Building intelligent mobile data services using deep packet inspection.

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The introduction of mobile data services has proven to be a great success. Perhaps too great! The subsequent pressure on mobile networks is placing mobile carriers in the same dilemma that fixed-line carriers have already experienced; namely the "revenue gap" or "scissor effect" where traffic and network costs grow faster than revenue. By building more intelligence into the network, it is possible to address this dilemma by offering user friendly services with more intelligent pricing models that are user rather than network focused. Deep Packet Inspection is a key technology in making this a reality. Napatech Inc.

WHAT IS DEEP PACKET INSPECTION?

Deep Packet Inspection is a term that is now well known in mobile networks. In essence, Deep Packet Inspection allows critical information to be extracted from packet data. This information can be used for traffic management and security purposes, but in the context of this whitepaper, Deep Packet Inspection relates to the extraction of network and service management information from Ethernet and IP packets.

Since Ethernet and IP protocols were not designed with network and service management in mind, it is more difficult to find the same network information that is an integral part of traditional telecom protocols. Deep Packet Inspection systems can extract the relevant information from Ethernet and the protocols encapsulated by Ethernet (e.g. IP, TCP and UDP) that can then be used to manage networks and services.

One of the ways of implementing such a Deep Packet Inspection system is to use Deep Packet Capture technology. Many Deep Packet Inspection systems are based on proprietary hardware development, but by using Deep Packet Capture technology, it is possible to use standard, off-the-shelf PC server platforms. This provides a powerful, yet cost-effective hardware platform for system development.

Deep Packet Capture provides fast extraction of network and service management information at line-speed with zero data loss. This includes information on well-defined services (1). This capability is provided by the intelligent network adapters, which are designed to interact with application software hosted on the PC server's multi-core CPU architecture. This approach provides both scalability and flexibility in meeting growing bandwidth and complexity demands.

In the context of this whitepaper, Deep Packet Inspection provides the foundation for Policy Enforcement (2) and intelligent billing solutions that can help mobile carriers to avoid the commoditization of mobile data services. By basing development on Deep Packet Capture technology and standard PC servers, Telecom Equipment

Manufacturers have an opportunity to quickly address the growing concerns of carriers regarding the mobile data explosion they are facing. Before looking at Deep Packet Inspection and Deep Packet Capture in more detail, we will examine the mobile data explosion, what it means for mobile carriers and what they can do to address it. Having set the scene, we will look at the opportunity this situation presents for Telecom Equipment Manufacturers.

THE VALUE OF MOBILITY AND THE MOBILE DATA EXPLOSION

The ability to complete tasks while on the move has proven to be a highly valued feature for consumers. This can clearly be seen by examining the sales of computing devices:

According to iSuppli, mobile PCs, such as laptops, have replaced desktop PCs as the preferred personal computing device. However, sales of smartphones are set to outshine sales of both these devices in the near future.

The stage is thus set for mobile data success. According to Heavy Reading, there will be over 500 million mobile data subscribers by the end of 2010 (3). This should be compared with the 580 million fixed broadband subscribers forecast for the end of 2010 (4).

In addition, Heavy Reading expects the number of mobile data subscribers to grow rapidly to 1.5 billion by 2014. This is echoed by other analysts and network companies, such as Cisco, who are predicting an annual doubling of mobile data traffic:

As can be seen, the majority of mobile data traffic will be generated by laptops and similar devices, but smartphone traffic is expected to grow rapidly with annual growth rates of 140%.

According to Cisco, the mobile data connection rates in different regions are today in the kbps range, so there is plenty of room for improvement when compared with the mufti-Mbps fixed-broadband connections that consumers use at home:

AVERAGE SMARTPHONE MOBILE SPEED BY REGION (in kbps) Asia Pacific 280 Japan 690 Western Europe 691 North America 418 Latin America 321 Middle East and Africa 106 Central Europe 263 Table 1: Average smartphone mobile speed by region (Source: Cisco VNI Mobile, 2010, www.ciscovnipulse.com) Those carriers that are first to provide higher connection rates will capture the largest share of the smartphone market...

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