The mobile industry has made a bold move with LTE having an all-IP core, shedding the circuit switched legacy of its predecessors. By embracing an all-IP environment, LTE will ultimately enable network simplification and heightened service innovation, with the elimination of traditional vertically integrated operational silos. However as service providers migrate to all-IP, a variety of challenges emerge. Two notable challenges include:

  • Support for legacy systems - Even as LTE embraces all-IP, there is a need to ensure adequate service integration and feature transparency with legacy systems, which we believe will remain in mobile networks foreseeable future. The most notable example is in the delivery of voice services over LTE. A variety of solutions, including circuit switched fallback, proprietary software upgrades to pre-IMS switches and full IMS implementations are proposed. Other cases include both proprietary and standardized approaches to encapsulating services like SMS in an IP payload.
  • Business and operational support system upgrades - All-IP architectures enable tremendous improvements in service velocity and in service lifecycle management. To capture this benefit, upgrades to business and operational support systems are necessary. With these upgrades, traditional boundaries between business and operational support systems become blurred. Traditional operational silos must evolve to enable end-to-end service centric business and operational support.

In addition to the specific challenges associated with all-IP, the proliferation of IP is placing tremendous pressure on the IPv4 address space. Finally, after more than a decade of false starts, IPv6 is looking imminent. In the past industry players have deferred the need for IPv6 by using techniques such as network address translation (NAT) to increase the scale of IPv4. However with the proliferation of Internet enabled mobile devices, IPv6 overlays are inevitable. Service providers like Verizon have recognized this trend by requiring all of its LTE devices to be IPv6 capable. As IPv6 is adopted, legacy IPv4 installations will prevail for the foreseeable future and dual mode capabilities will be mandatory and require costly system upgrades.

As the LTE fever takes hold over the next 36 months and as industry players eagerly anticipate the new capabilities that LTE offers the marketplace, we believe that there are two important messages that the industry must embrace:

  • Don't forget the extensive legacy installed base. Without adequate integration and backward compatibility, service providers run the risk of creating LTE silos.
  • Address challenges with business and operational software early in the upgrade planning and design process. Too often, software issues are not identified and addressed until late in the overall design and planning process, result in complex and sub-optimum designs. This is particularly important with the increased role that software will play in the overall delivery of mobile broadband services in the future.

Original Source: Phil Marshall; 4G Trends (