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MWC: Tellabs launches new 3G data offload gateway

Moving WiChorus’ SmartCore from the core to the backhaul network, Tellabs seeks to head off Internet-bound traffic before it hits the 3G core

Tellabs (NASDAQ:TLAB) is wasting no time in putting its acquisition of next-generation mobile gateway vendor WiChorus to work in the vendor’s IP backhaul portfolio.

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Tellabs today unveiled the Smart Internet Breakout Gateway, which is essentially the WiChorus SmartCore platform picked up from its accustomed place in the mobile packet core network and plopped down in backhaul network where it will act as a traffic cop, intercepting bulk Internet bound traffic before it hits the mobile core.

Tellabs estimates that 70% of all mobile data traffic is heading for the Internet, and under current network architectures that traffic hops over several core network nodes unnecessarily to reach its final destination. By offloading that traffic onto the Internet right after the radio network controller, operators can bypass their core networks entirely, saving enormous data plane capacity for the operator’s own services or for third-party services to which it can add value (and presumably collect revenue).

Mobile data offload has become a hot topic lately as carriers look for ways to ease the enormous amounts of data traffic on their 3G networks. Most of those efforts have focused on offloading traffic from the radio network using fixed mobile convergence (FMC) technologies such as WiFi and femtocells. But recently a group of smaller vendors have emerged offering solutions to unburden operators’ core networks as well, by offloading Internet-bound traffic before it ever sees its first core gateway. Along with Tellabs, Stoke has begun selling an offload gateway that sits between the RNC and service gateway support node (SGSN). Stoke has even managed to land one of the biggest customers in the business, NTT DoCoMo (NYSE:DCM), though it is initially using Stoke’s SSX-3000 as a 3G base station aggregator and a future 4G femtocell gateway. Even the bigger vendors have started showing an interest. At Mobile World Congress next week, Juniper Networks (NASDAQ:JNPR) is unveiling new mobile data offload functionality for its MX 3D router line, though it sits behind the core not in front of it, offloading traffic before it hits the carriers services complex.

The WiChorus SmartCore platform was originally designed as a high-capacity mobile broadband data core that functions as the access service node (ASN) gateway in a WiMax network, a GPRS gateway support node (GGSN) in high-speed packet access (HSPA) network or as the data and signaling gateways in the long-term evolution (LTE) evolved packet core. But WiChorus loaded the platform up with a series of other goodies, such as deep packet inspection (DPI) and policy management, data analytics and reporting software, that allow it to function as much more than a gateway. Tellabs is now attempting to utilize those components in different parts of its networks, particularly to complement its major product area, IP backhaul. According to CEO Rob Pullen, Tellabs has been quite successful in the strategy adding five service provider customers since the acquisition closed last fall, giving it 15 customers for the SmartCore total, including its big name contract with US WiMax provider Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR).

“Our philosophy is to have a common services delivery model using a common packet core, like the Tellabs SmartCore platform,” Pullen said in a recent interview. “Then we interoperate with all the RAN vendors to help them lower the capex for the service provider on the radio access gear...That message is resonating with customers.”

Reconfiguring the SmartCore as the Breakout Gateway is the first of what will be several initiatives to peel off specific applications from the platform for deployment in their optimal network locations, according to Eric Andrews, director of product management at Tellabs.

By moving the gateway in front of the core network, Tellabs isn’t just providing an off ramp for Internet bound traffic, but also moving many of the functions typically performed in the core closer to the edge of the network. DPI sniffs out the destinations of Internet-bound traffic but policy management can prioritize traffic for specific over-the-top service providers, customers or applications, and analytics functions give detailed reporting on network use, Andrews said.

But if the operator wants to access the full core functionality of the breakout gateway, they can. As an operator deploys 4G, the gateway can evolve into the packet data network gateway (P-gateway) or serving gateway (S-gateway) of an LTE network, Andrews said.

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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