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The Diameter Signaling Controller Market is Exploding Due to Mobile Device Traffic

February 03, 2014

Diameter is the signaling protocol that handles Authentication, Authorization and Accounting or the AAAs of messages in the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) architecture. As more subscribers move to IMS-based 4G/LTE (News - Alert) networks, service providers are expecting an exponential growth in Diameter traffic generated by smartphones and other mobile devices.

There are two signaling protocols that drive most of the communications in IMS networks. They are the Session Initiation Protocol (News - Alert) (SIP) and Diameter. SIP is the industry standard for message signaling in real-time communications such as Voice over IP (VoIP) and videoconferencing sessions.

Diameter is the industry standard for data signaling from mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. The two protocols are designed to perform separate but complementary functions in IMS/LTE networks.

An example of this is that when a SIP session is initiated, Diameter messages are working behind the scenes within the core network to authenticate that the subscriber is who they say they are, is authorized to use certain network services or applications, and is charged correctly for using those services.

A new report from Infonetics (News - Alert) Research entitled “Diameter Signaling Controllers” explains that the controllers handle and secure Diameter signaling traffic on service provider networks triggered by mobile devices and machines.

The main prediction is that we can expect to see strong growth in the Diameter Signaling Controller market. According to Sonus Networks, until now, Diameter traffic has not been a big issue for service providers simply because of the limited number of IMS subscribers. However, as service providers begin to deploy more 4G/LTE networks to meet the mobile broadband demand of smartphones and tablets, the number of Diameter signaling messages in service provider networks will grow exponentially.

Smartphones, for example, generate a lot of Diameter signaling messages in the core network. When they are accessing an application, downloading data, roaming or simply being turned on and off, they generate Diameter signaling messages.

If you multiply dozens of Diameter signaling messages by millions of smartphones and you now have potential chokepoints in the network that can disrupt service or even take down the network. This in turn will spur the Diameter Signaling Controller market to grow quickly.

In much the same way that a Session Border Controller handles SIP, Diameter Signaling Controllers handles Diameter. It routes messages more efficiently, thus preventing network overloads. Instead of a complex mesh of Diameter signaling messages that flow between dozens of IMS elements, a Diameter Signaling Controller acts as a central mediator that streamlines the flow of Diameter signaling messages in the network.

Diane Myers, who is principle analyst for VoIP, UC and IMS at Infonetics, said, “The Diameter Signaling Control market is still relatively new, but in 2013 it matured through the success of a broader range of vendors and strong growth worldwide, with revenue more than doubling over the previous year.”

This is because the market is attracting vendors from various backgrounds. This include everything from telecom hardware and software vendors such as Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Huawei (News - Alert) and Oracle to traditional signaling vendors such as Ulticom, to pure play vendors like Diametriq and vendors in the policy and control space that include Amdocs (News - Alert), Comptel and Openet.

Myers continued to say, “The vendor landscape continues to shift with acquisitions and new entrants. Oracle, via its acquisition of Tekelec and Acme Packet, is the Diameter Signaling Control market leader in 2013, followed very closely by F5 and Huawei. Ericsson and Huawei have made significant pushes into the Diameter space and should be viewed as formidable threats. As exploding traffic from mobile devices, smartphones and machines further vexes mobile operators, we expect competition in the Diameter signaling controller market to intensify in 2014.”

Some of the highlights for the Diameter Signaling Control Market include:

  • Infonetics forecasts global Diameter Signaling Controller revenue to grow at a 54 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) through 2018
  • The number one use case for Diameter signaling Control remains centralized routing, but roaming via Diameter Edge Agent (DEA) is close behind and policy and charging rules function (PCRF) binding continues to see significant activity
  • Key areas of diameter signaling controller product development in 2014 include virtualization and a more widespread integration of interworking function (IWF)
  • North America controlled nearly 80 percent of the Diameter signaling controller market back in 2011, but Asia Pacific quickly caught up in 2012 and EMEA came close to parity by 2013 due to the significant ramping of LTE in these regions; Latin America is starting to show more activity as LTE expands there

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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