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Convergence of Mobile and Fixed Telco Architectures

The architectures of mobile networks (through 3GPP) and fixed-line networks (through ETSI TISPAN) have gradually converged over the last decade, here's how...

There has been substantial momentum behind the development of GSM and UMTS standards for some years, largely driven by the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), a collaboration between regional standards bodies including ETSI. 3GPP has driven the development of standards for the evolving network, and these have been grouped into releases, each of which has traditionally added substantial functionality to the mobile network.

Actual implementation has normally followed some way behind the standards process, but has also been well aligned with its principles. At the time of writing (mid 2008), many mobile operators are still deploying services standardised in 2002 (IMS and HSDPA) for the first time.

Telecoms and Internet converged Services for Protocols and Advanced Networks (TISPAN) working group was formed by the merger of the previous Services and Protocols for Advanced Networks (SPAN) and Telecommunications and Internet Protocol Harmonisation Over Networks (TIPHON) groups within ETSI in 2002. It leads the architectural roadmap for the development of fixed line networks in Europe; in practice much of the ETSI work is adopted by other regional standards bodies, in the absence of an effective local effort.

The main purpose of the slide opposite is to shown that the architectural components of both fixed and mobile networks in the core are becoming increasingly aligned. In particular TISPAN adopted the IMS system of 3GPP as a mainstay of their Next Generation Network architecture at release 1. Release 2 of the NGN architecture is scheduled to be developed and released jointly with 3GPP release 8, during late 2008. It is widely expected that the two sets of standards will be even more aligned as of that release.

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