LTE Diameter Signaling Traffic to Grow More than Three Times

MORRISVILLE, N.C. — Sept. 12, 2012 — According to the new Tekelec LTE Diameter Signaling Index™, Diameter signaling traffic growth will more than triple mobile data traffic growth through 2016. Tekelec forecasts Diameter Messages per Second (MPS) to increase to 47 million Diameter MPS by 2016, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 252% between 2011 and 2016.

The Index is an industry first – intended to help business executives, network architects and engineers forecast Diameter signaling traffic growth associated with:

  • Policy management which intelligently orchestrates the subscriber experience;
  • Communications among policy servers, charging systems, subscriber databases and gateways; and
  • Mobility management functions, including subscriber authentication onto networks and roaming between partner networks.

The Tekelec LTE Diameter Signaling Index is an important tool for service providers to measure network intelligence and manage and monetize mobile data. Service providers can refer to the Tekelec LTE Diameter Signaling Index for guidance on how data sessions, video streaming, voice over LTE (VoLTE), and sophisticated policy and charging rules impact Diameter signaling traffic growth.

As an LTE Diameter traffic demand model, the Index serves as a reference point from which service providers can layer on critical factors such as network architecture, topology, capacity requirements, geo-redundancy and other implementation-specific factors that are needed to architect a robust, reliable and scalable Diameter Network.

Key Findings

  • Tekelec estimates that more than 87,000 Diameter MPS traversed mobile networks globally in 2011. By 2016, Diameter MPS will reach 47 million MPS, for a CAGR of 252 percent.
  • Policy has the largest impact on total Diameter signaling traffic with nearly 24 million MPS crossing LTE networks by 2016 in support of policy use cases. This represents a CAGR of 269 percent over the 2011-2016 period. Sophisticated data plans, personalized services, and over-the-top (OTT) and advertising models will introduce new complexity policy use cases, driving increased Diameter signaling traffic.
  • Online charging is the largest area of growth for Diameter signaling MPS as service providers migrate their charging networks to all IP-based architectures. Online charging Diameter MPS is forecast to increase from nearly 18,000 MPS to nearly 14 million MPS by 2016, for a CAGR of 280 percent.
  • Tekelec also modeled Diameter signaling growth by service type. Results indicate that subscriber authentication will generate 5.4 billion messages in 2016. Social networking activity is forecasted to spike from about 155 million Diameter messages in 2011 to 17 billion in 2016.
  • VoLTE and video streaming will sharply increase Diameter signaling with about 36 billion and 30 billion Diameter messages, respectively, in 2016. These two services generate high amounts of Diameter signaling due to Quality of Service (QoS) requirements.
  • The growth in Diameter signaling traffic directly correlates with innovative LTE services and new business models, such as:
  1. oRate plans based on usage, quality of service, application and time of day
  2. oMobile cloud services
  3. oOTT application services such as video and social networking
  4. oMachine-to-Machine (M2M) services
  5. oMobile payment and advertising services

Geographic Forecasts

  • North America: Diameter signaling traffic will rise to 15.9 million in 2016, for a 216 percent CAGR. North America will be the largest contributor to global Diameter traffic through 2015.
  • Asia-Pacific (APAC): Diameter signaling traffic will rise to 16.7 million MPS in 2016, for a 263 percent CAGR. APAC will lead the world in Diameter MPS starting in 2016.
  • Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA): Diameter signaling traffic will rise to 13.8 million MPS in 2016, for a 320 percent CAGR.
  • Caribbean & Latin America: Diameter signaling traffic will rise to nearly 540,000 MPS in 2016, for a 962 percent CAGR. A sharp rise in LTE subscribers is expected in the region beginning in 2013.

Supporting Quotes

  • Doug Suriano, chief technology officer, Tekelec: “Diameter signaling growth is more dramatic than mobile data traffic growth. The rise is steeper, the time to plan for it is shorter and there are no offload solutions like there are for data traffic. But here’s the good news: service providers now have a way to forecast Diameter signaling traffic on their LTE networks. This is critical because an increase in Diameter signaling means an increase in personalized services, higher revenues, and happier customers.”
  • Jim Hodges, senior analyst, Heavy Reading: “While a number of factors will drive an increase in Diameter signaling over the next five years, LTE subscriber growth will have a profound impact. As a result, operators are adopting a centralized Diameter routing architecture and utilizing more extensive forecasting tools to ensure they maximize the scalability potential and efficiency of their next-gen signaling networks.”
  • Mike Thelander, CEO of Signals Research Group: “Unlike the ongoing 3G signaling storm which is being created by smartphone-based applications and social networking services, the eminent Diameter signaling phenomenon can also have positive implications in the form of new revenue-generating opportunities for service providers and differentiated service offerings for subscribers. The industry, however, first needs to fully understand and appreciate the Diameter signaling implications associated with various policy control and enforcement initiatives, new services, such as VoLTE and M2M, not to mention the underlying network architecture.”

About Diameter

Diameter is the signaling protocol service providers use to deliver personalized services. It is essential for authorization, authentication, policy, charging, and mobility management. Diameter messages enable subscriber network access, secure interconnection with roaming and over-the-top application partners, accurate charging, and usage-based services.

Forecast Methodology

The Tekelec Diameter Signaling Index calculates LTE Diameter MPS based on assumptions relevant to LTE services such as third party LTE subscriber forecasts, subscriber usage, the number of active subscribers, the number of concurrent sessions, mobility busy hours, subscriber busy hours, policy sessions and online and offline charging interactions.

3GPP and GSM Association standards and documentation are used to establish Diameter traffic profiles based on service type. Assumptions are validated in Tekelec’s Diameter Signaling Lab at the Morrisville, North Carolina Customer Experience Center.

This information is incorporated into the Tekelec Diameter Signaling Index Calculator™ available to service providers to forecast Diameter signaling traffic growth on LTE and 3G networks.

Usage & Citation

Tekelec permits media, financial and industry analysts, service providers, regulators and other third parties to cite our research with the following attribution: “Source: Tekelec LTE Diameter Signaling Index: Forecast Report and Analysis 2011-2016.”

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