Alcatel-Lucent Expands Wireless Packet Core

By Sean Michael Kerner | Mar 19, 2010 | Print this Page
http://www.enterprisenetworkingplanet.com/nethub/article.php/3871766/AlcatelLucent-Expands-Wireless-Packet-Core.htm

Mobile service providers around the world are considering evolving their networks to the next-generation Long-Term Evolution, or LTE, 4G standard. It's an effort that networking vendor Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE:ALU) is aiming to support with a series of new products and devices announced this week.

The new Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) products are targeted at helping service providers grow their current network infrastructures with technologies that will support both existing wireless deployments as well as future LTE rollouts.

"Wireless data traffic growth is the fundamental problem statement we're addressing here and we're addressing it with a massive increase in performance and scalability for the packet core gateways," Lindsay Newell, vice president of marketing at Alcatel-Lucent, told InternetNews.com. "The second piece is making the network more intelligent and linking that in with a policy management that addresses the issue of new business models and the potential for things like usage-based data plans."

At the gateway, Alcatel-Lucent is expanding the wireless capabilities of its two-year-old 7750 Service Routers (SR) to support 2G, 3G GGSN (Gateway GPRS Support Node) as well as LTE. Newell noted that not all carriers will be making the jump all the way to LTE, with some first deploying and supporting other wireless technologies like HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) first.

"For operators doing HSPA upgrades, bringing new smartphones onto their network, they may be reaching a point where their existing packet core gateway is reaching capacity exhaustion," Newell said. "So our proposition is that this platform that will meet HPSA/HSPA+ requirements and will also meet LTE requirements several years down the road. It's all about intercepting the discontinuity in the network upgrade cycle and providing a platform that has a lot of runway in front of it."

Improving the capacity of the packet core for next-generation wireless demand is an area in which rival networking vendors also have been active lately. For instance, Juniper and Cisco recently rolled out their own new networking gear for wireless operators.

Both Cisco and Juniper are pushing the benefits of their respective wireless network intelligence capabilities -- an approach that Alcatel-Lucent is likewise taking. One of its new wireless network intelligence products is the 5780 Dynamic Services Controller (DSC).

"The 5780 DSC provides all of the policy management, which allows network operators to do fine-grain network performance control and optimization on a per-subscriber per per-session basis," Newell said.

As to why Alcatel-Lucent doesn't combine the same policy management with its 7750 SR as one mobile platform, Newell noted that the products solve two fundamentally different problems.

"The routers and packets core in wireless networks really need to be optimized around high-capacity data packet forwarding, so it's a network processing problem that you're trying to solve," Newell said. "A thing like the policy control is more of a compute-processing problem."

The move towards LTE is already underway in the U.S. with both AT&T and Verizon Wireless now testing out the technology and building their networks.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.