Moving to an all-IP core network presents fresh challenges for operators. The Evolved Packet Core (EPC) provides operators with the platform for the delivery of basic data services, such as best effort Internet access. However, operators need to prepare the EPC to deliver enhanced services beyond basic data services.
- Centralized or Decentralized Approach. Unlike with the legacy 3G networks, it is possible to separate the control plane from the data plane with EPC. By taking this approach the operator is able to customize its core network architecture so that it involves a combination of centralized network elements (e.g., the P-GW) and decentralized network elements (e.g., the MME and S-GW), if they so choose. The ultimate decision then comes down to a number of factors that we discuss.
- The Diameter Protocol. The impact of core network signaling is also a huge consideration point when it comes to determining the optimal EPC architecture. This belief is reinforced because literally every network signaling transaction is based on Diameter, including state transitions, mobility management, policy control, authentication, roaming, and charging.
- Network offload and optimization. Network offload solutions, which apply to the RAN and the Core Network, include a mix of small cells and Wi-Fi, as well as new technologies/standards, such as LIPA, SIPTO, and ANDSF. We examine these consideration points in the context of Mobile Core Network 2.0.
- Content Deliver Network. Once the data traffic leaves the operator’s network, it has virtually no control over the QoE. This is where CDN can play an important role.
- Policy Control. Today, policy control is fairly limited and it largely applies to basic traffic management. However, the opportunity exists for it to support other features and services, such as the ability to monetize OTT services.
- Odds and Ends. To conclude this report, we examine the programmable network, or SDN, subscriber data management in the context of new challenges, such as M2M interactions, and the virtualization of the EPC to create the so-called Cloud EPC.