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Building an end-to-end architecture that supports fixed mobile convergence

Posted: 08 Sep 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:fixed mobile convergence? fmc? agere systems? ericsson?

Building an end-to-end architecture that supports fixed mobile convergence

The concept of convergence emerges from telecom service providers' need to find new revenue streams, reduce their operating expenses and simultaneously invest in future-proof network architectures and technologies. Some service providers are looking for a multitude of new services including mobile and fixed access, while others seek only a combination of TV, Internet access and telephony.

There are numerous standards activities that contribute to the concept of convergence. From the wireless perspective, the 3G Partnership Project (3GPP) has standardized the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS)1,2. IMS is an architecture that will allow emerging IP multimedia applications to run over a GPRS/UMTS environment. A group called the 3GPP2 Forum also is standardizing a similar architecture, which is a subset of the 3GPP2 IP Multimedia Domain (MMD) 3,4. Much of the 3GPP's IMS work is reused and/or adopted in the 3GPP2 IMS standards process. On the fixed network side, the ETSI Telecoms & Internet Converged Services and Protocols for Advanced Networks (TISPAN) Group was formed to develop standards for next-generation fixed networks and the evolution to FMC.

The underlying transport technology for convergent networks and applications is Internet Protocol (IP). IP brings the globally successful Internet service creation environment and paradigm into next-generation wireless and fixed wireline networks. The signaling protocol that will enable users to access networks and experience services is session initiation protocol (SIP). SIP is an application layer protocol that can establish, modify and terminate multimedia sessions over the Internet.5

On the access side, technologies and standards continue to evolve and become more mature. On the fixed side, for example, broadband access on digital subscriber lines (DSL) promises speeds of up to 24Mbit/s downstream and up to 3Mbit/s upstream using the latest ADSL2+ standard.6 The DOCSIS 3.0 initiative, launched by CableLabs in late 2004, promises to deliver 200 Mbit/s to end users by grouping multiple 6MHz television channels into a single wideband carrier.

The emerging WiMAX standards7 deliver bandwidth and coverage under non-Line-of-Sight (NLOS) conditions and promise what other broadband wireless access (BWA) technologies have failed to achieve: coverage, bandwidth and cost-effective terminals and base stations. As 3G cellular networks are deployed and become mature, new 3GPP-promoted access technologies such as high speed downlink packet access (HSPDA) 8 and high speed uplink packet access (HSUPA) promise to increase downlink and uplink speeds respectively.

For CDMA2000 systems, the 3GPP2 recently completed the enhanced reverse link standardization effort of the 1 x Evolution for High Speed Integrated Data and Voice (1xEV-DV) access technology that will deliver increased bandwidth in the upstream direction. 9

Finally, a key factor for integrating all different applications under a common IP-based transport network is traffic management. Mechanisms such as IP Diffserv/Intserv, multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) and policy-based networking will interwork with QoS mechanisms defined in access networks (wireline and wireless) to provide the concept of end-to-end QoS support, which is critical to multiservice and converged networks.

This article will present the network architecture that will enable fixed mobile convergence and address key issues that remain to be resolved by standards groups and the research community.

Definition and issues

FMC can be defined as the merging of wireline and wireless networks and services. Three aspects of these networks are merging:

- Network

- Services

- Terminals

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