At a time when end customers look for high-speed data to power their new age device form factors, operators look for cost effective methodologies to enable this growing thirst for data and also put efforts to ease out pressure from their networks.
This data intensive challenge can successfully be met by innovating on delivering connectivity to the users by intertwining next generation cellular technologies such as LTE with Wi-Fi and deliver carrier-grade Wi-Fi coverage regions that can offload the operator traffic in a cost efficient manner.
Internet Protocol or IP is the underlying fabric upon which networks are built and IP defines the structure of information packets and most importantly, it also defines how they are transported between two end-to-end IP-devices across an interconnection of networks.
Driven by global standards, IP protocols are designed to be agnostic to the underlying characteristics of any of the intervening networks and have provided the highway architecture for the modern internet today.
And owing to these technology agnostic characteristics of IP, it has become a natural choice of selection for interworking Cellular and Wi-Fi Networks, since It is a common language that be supported by both the networks and seamlessly integrates the both to deliver best in class carrier grade Wi-Fi capability that can deliver exactly what users need and where they need it.
The world over, including in India, operators are fast realising the full potential of Wi-Fi and as a result, today, Cellular Wi-Fi Integration is seen as a technique that can smartly manage difficult data traffic scenarios in a mobile operator network. And hence, in such a situation, a successful amalgamation of Wi-Fi and Cellular technologies such as LTE can dynamically route data to use the optimal radio interface that is just ideal for particular data application at the user end.
The best part of this technological integration is the fact that at the end user level, nothing changes, while at the operator level cellular network handshake of Wi-Fi ensures a considerable reduction of stress on operator’s backhaul as well as optimal usage of network resources such as spectrum.
As there is an upsurge in the usage of mobile devices such as iPhone, tablets and phablets, delivering the right user experience is becoming increasingly important for operators as consumers expect to receive the same quality of service whether they use Wi-Fi, 3G or LTE.
But at the operator level, as a intertwining technology, Wi-Fi must provide operators with the right tools to manage Wi-Fi networks in a similar fashion that operators are used to operate and maintain their existing 3G or LTE networks, and hence delivery of carrier grade Wi-Fi solutions becomes important.
In a 4G scenario where operators are looking at incorporating best possible LTE strategies, Wi-Fi is an intertwining technology that can very well integrate the trusted and untrusted Wi-Fi networks with operator’s packet core and this way operators can provide a seamless integration of their mobile and Wi-Fi access.
LTE – Wi-Fi Interworking
LTE – Wi-Fi interworking is a methodology which can enable an operator to offload their LTE driven subscriber data requirement on to a Wi-Fi Access network and still be able to control LTE packet core infrastructure for subscriber Authentication, Policy and Charging functions.
While operators device strategy to interlink LTE and Wi-Fi, authentication of the end user is surely a very critical aspect for any network and that is why operators need a converged AAA that supports DIAMETER based EAP authentication along with RADIUS based authentication for RADIUS supportive networks like Wi-Fi. And this is where Elitecore can provide a much needed boost for operators Wi-Fi strategy.
Seamless Integration of LTE and Wi-Fi
Elitecore has an advanced AAA known as Evolved 3GPP AAA compliant to industry standards of 3GPP which plays an important role in LTE interworking with Wi-Fi.
Converting challenges into opportunities for operators, this compliant by Elitecore can support diameter based EAP Authentication required for integration with LTE type of network or where Access network is on DIAMETER as well as authentication for RADIUS supportive networks like Wi-Fi. And hence this can enable a platform on which LTE and Wi-Fi interworking can be established in a seamless manner.
Elitecore’s Evolved 3GPP AAA also holds functionalities that can provide the Wx interface support for HSS authentication over LTE network. It is capable to provide support for 3GPP standard compliant SWa interface for EAP authentication with HSS as well as capable to support SWm – for additional Authentication parameters based on subscriber profile, authorization information update, ePDG initiated session termination and S2b interface support towards PGW over GTP or PMIPv6 tunnelling. It will also provide support for S6b interface between 3GPP evolved AAA and P-GW for tunnelling authentication.
Business Benefits of LTE-Wi-Fi Interworking
- LTE- Wi-Fi Interworking allows the operator to provide the same set services which are already available in existing LTE network – Product plans
- Operator can use Wi-Fi as alternate technology to LTE where LTE radio coverage weak or cost of coverage is higher compare to Wi-Fi
- LTE- Wi-Fi Interworking allows operator to grow their network into rural / distant area and save on transport and OPEX cost
- Allows Operator launch bundled services – with Wi-Fi
- With packet core network integration an operator can enable improved visibility and control over Wi-Fi traffic and gain enhanced customer experience.
- Furthermore, users are able to reach their LTE services via both mobile and Wi-Fi accesses. This makes Wi-Fi a truly integral part of mobile broadband access.
- It enables even closer control over traffic with seamless network-controlled handovers between radio and Wi-Fi even during roaming.
- Session continuity assures that applications are not affected when the user device moves between different Wi-Fi networks as the same IP address is preserved