Tag Archives: Telecom

Session Border controller for WebRTC

Session Border Controllers ( SBC )  assist in controlling the signaling and usually also the media streams involved in calls and sessions.

They are often part of a VOIP network on the border where there are 2 peer networks of service providers such as backbone network and access network of corporate communication system which is behind firewall.

A more complex example is that of a large corporation where different departments have security needs for each location and perhaps for each kind of data. In this case, filtering routers or other network elements are used to control the flow of data streams. It is the job of a session border controller to assist policy administrators in managing the flow of session data across these borders. – wikipedia

SBC act like a SIP-aware firewall with proxy/B2BUA.

What is B2BUA?

A Back to back user agent ( B2BUA ) is a proxy-like server that splits a SIP transaction in two pieces:

  • on the side facing User Agent Client (UAC), it acts as server;
  • on the side facing User Agent Server (UAS) it acts as a client.

B2BUAs keep state information about active dialog. Read more here .

Remote Access

SBC mostly have public url address  for teleworkers and a internal IP for enterprise/ inner LAN . This enables users connected to enterprise LAN ( who do not have public address ) to make a call to user outside of their network. During this process SBC takes care of following while relaying packets .

  1. Security
  2. Connectivity
  3. Qos
  4. Regulatory
  5. Media Services
  6. Statistics and billing information

Topology hiding

SBC hides and anonymize secure information like IP ports before forwarding message to outside world . This helps protect the internal node of Operators such as PSTN gateways or SIP proxies from revealing outside.

Explaining the functions of SBC in detail

1. Security

SBCs are often used by corporations along with firewalls and intrusion prevention systems (IPS) to enable VoIP calls to and from a protected enterprise network. VoIP service providers use SBCs to allow the use of VoIP protocols from private networks with Internet connections using NAT, and also to implement strong security measures that are necessary to maintain a high quality of service. The security features includes :

  • Prevent malicious attacks on network such as DOS, DDos.
  • Intrusion detection
  • cryptographic authentication
  • Identity/URL based access control
  • Blacklisting bad endpoints
  • Malformed packet protection
  • Encryption of signaling (via TLS and IPSec) and media (SRTP)
  • Stateful signalling and Validation
  • Toll Fraud – detect who is intending to use the telecom services without paying up

2. Connectivity

As SBC offers IP-to-IP network boundary, it recives SIP request from users like REGISTER , INVITE  and routes them towards destination, making their IP. During this process it performs various operations like

  • NAT traversal
  • IPv4 to IPv6 inter-working
  • VPN connectivity
  • SIP normalization via SIP message and header manipulation
  • Multi vendor protocol normalization

Further Routing features includes  :
Least Cost Routing based on MoS ( Mean Opinion Score ) : Choosing a path based on MoS is better than chooisng any random path . 

Protocol translations between SIP, SIP-I, H.323.

In essence SBC achieve interoperability, overcoming some of the problems that firewalls and network address translators (NATs) present for VoIP calls.

Automatic Rerouting

connectivity loss from UA for whole branch is detected by timeouts . But they can also be detected by audio trough SIP OPTIONS by SBC .  In such connectivity loss , SBC decides rerouting or sending back 504 to caller .

SBC 2 (1)

4. QoS
To introduce performance optimization and business rules in call management QoS is very important . This includes the following :

  • Traffic policing
  • Resource allocation
  • Rate limiting
  • Call Admission Control (CAC)
  • ToS/DSCP bit setting
  • Recording and Audit of messages , voice calls , files
  • System and event logging

5. Regulatory

Govt policies ( such as ambulance , police ) and/ or enterprise policies may require some calls to be holding priority over others . This can also be configured under SBC as emergency calls and prioritization.
Some instances may require communication provider to comply with lawful bodies and provide session information or content , this is also called as Lawful interception (LI) . This enables security officials to collect specific information rather than examining all the traffic that passes through a particular router. This is also part of SBC.
6. Media services

Many of the new generation of SBCs also provide built-in digital signal processors (DSPs) to enable them to offer border-based media control and services such as- DTMF relay , Media transcoding , Tones and announcements etc.

WebRTC enabled SBC’s also provide conversion between DTLS-SRTP, to and from RTCP/RTP. Also transcoding for Opus into G7xx codecs
and ability to relay VP8/VP9 and H.264 codecs.

7. Statistics and billing information

SBC have an interface with and OSS/BSS systems for billing process , as almost all traffic that pass through the edge of the network passes via SBC. For this reason it is also used to gather Statistics and usage-based information like bandwidth, memory and CPU.  PCAP traces of both signaling and media information of specific sessions .

New feature rich SBCs also have built-in digital signal processors (DSPs). Thus able to provide more control over session’s media/voice . They also add services like Relay and Interworking, Media Transcoding, Tones and Announcements, DTMF etc.

Session Border Controller (SBC)

Session Border Controller for WebRTC , SIP , PSTN , IP PBX and Skype for business .

Diagram Component Description

Gateways provide compression or decompression, control signaling, call routing, and packetizing.

PSTN Gateway : Converts analog to VOIP and vice versa . Only audio no support for rich multimedia .

VOIP Gateway : A VoIP Gateway acts like a translator converting digital telecom lines to VoIP . VOIP gateway often also include voice and fax. They also have interfaces to Soft switches and network management systems.

WebRTC Gateway : They help in providing NAT with ICE-lite and STUN connectivity for peers behind policies and Firewall .

SIP trunking : Enterprises save on significant operation cost by switching to IP /SIP trunking in place of TDM (Time Division Multiplexing). Read more on SIP trunk and VPN  here. 

SIP Server : A Telecom application server ( SIP Server ) is useful for building VAS ( Value Added Services ) and other fine grained policies on real time services . Read more on SIP Servers here . 

VOIP/SIP service Provider :   There are many Worldwide SIP Service providers such as Verizon in USA , BT in europe, Swisscom in Switzerland etc .

 

Building a SBC

The latest trends in Telecommunications industry demand an open standardized SBC to cater to growing and large array of SIP Trunking, Unified Multimedia Communications UC&C, VoLTE, VoWi-Fi, RCS and OTT services worldwide . Building an SBC requires that it meet the following prime requirements :

  • software centric
  • Cloud Deploybale
  • Rich multimedia (audio , video , files etc) processing
  • open interfaces
  • The end product should be flexible to be deployed as COTS ( Commercial Off the shelf) product or as a virtual network function in the NFV cloud.
  • Multi Configuration , should be supported such as Hosted or Cloud deployed .
  • Overcome inconsistencies in SIP from different Vendors
  • Security and Lawful Interception
  • Carrier Grade Scaling

Flow Diagram 

SBC WebRTC to SIP

Thus we see how SBC became important part of comm systems developed over SIP and MGCP. SBC offer B2BUA ( Back to Back user agent) behavior to control both signalling and media traffic.


 

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Legacy Telecom Networks

I use the term legacy telecom system many a times , but have not really described what a legacy system actually is . In my conferences too I am asked to just exactly define a legacy system . Often my clients are surprised to hear what they have in current operation is actually fitted in our own version of definition of ” Legacy system ” . This write up is an attempt to describe the legacy landscape . It also describes its characteristics , elements and transformation .

Characteristics of Legacy Systems

1. Analog Signals

1G , introduced in 1980s , used analog signals as compared to digital in 2G onward. In 1G voice was modulated to higher frequency and then converted to digital while communication with radio towers .

2.Legacy system have ATM / Frame Relay transmission .

This  is basically Hardware  Specific and results in High Expenses.

3. Legacy systems have POTS / PSTN / ISDN as their access layer technology .

Access layer is the first layer of telecom architecture which is responsible for interacting directly with the end use / subscriber . Legacy system technologies are again Hardware  Specific , bear High Expenses and offer Low stability.

Physical transmission media include :

  • Twisted wire (modems)
  • Coaxial cable
  • Fiber optics and optical networks – Dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM)

4. Legacy system use Traditional Switches / ISDN in their Core Layer

Core layer is the main control hub of the entire telecom architecture . Using old fashioned switches render high CAPEX ( capital Expenditure ) and OPEX ( Operational Expenses ) .

5. In the service delivery front legacy system employ Traditional IN switches

These are very Hardware Centric.

Services part of Legacy Telecom Networks

a)Virtual Private Network (VPN)

An Intelligent Network (IN) service, which offers the functions of a private telephone network. The basic idea behind this service is that business customers are offered the benefits of a (physical) private network, but spared from owning and maintaining it

b)Access Screening(ASC):

 An IN service, which gives the operators the possibility to screen (allow/barring) the incoming traffic and decide the call routing, especially when the subscribers choose an alternate route/carrier/access network (also called Equal Access) for long distance calls on a call by call basis or pre-selected.

c)Number Portability(NP)

An IN service allows subscribers to retain their subscriber number while changing their service provider, location, equipment or type of subscribed telephony service. Both geographic numbers and non-geographic numbers are supported by the NP service.

Tools for a Telecom software Engineer

evernote    desktop

  • Evernote for notekeeping
  • Eclipse to do real programming

github  mysql

  • Github to upload download code
  • MySQL  workbench to take care of Database Management

 

 

Technologies to Work with

 wenrtc players icon

  •  IETF
  • W3C
  • WebRTC
  • HTML
  • Java
  • GSMS standards

 

 

 

tools

Frameworks

frameworks

  • Struts
  • Hibernate
  • Spring
  • EJB

 

Unified Service Delivery Stack

The Unified Communication Solution leads to Network Agnostic, Agile, Cost Effective  & Customer Experience Centric Services Platform.

unified ccommunication

 

The Way from Copper -> Fiber -> 2nd Generation -> 3rd Generation -> LTE , depicts evolution of Telecommunications over the decades , in the Network layer Infrastructure area

The Sevice Layer Infrastructure is built  using techniques as Switching , Home Location Register (HLR) ,  Authetication (  AuC) etc  . The Services vary over ranges such as IN , Voice , SMS , VOIP , IM , IPTV , IMS  , Presence , MMS etc .

Top of this lies the Harmonization layer that performs the inter networking between different platforms and protocols .

The Application Layer consists of various usecases as Enhanced Screening , Social Networking Integration , Education Trade etc .

Telecommunications convergence

First, the mobile phone network enabled universal, affordable, personal communication, regardless of your location.

Then in the second wave of the communication revolution, the smartphone redefined all aspects of the way we communicate with people, businesses, information and entertainment access whilst on the move. As bandwidth has increased, so has the proliferation of VoIP systems.

From the user’s perspective, modern mobile devices deliver the converged, multi-media communication and entertainment experience.

VOIP

VOIP , short for Voice over IP , is called so beacuse it not only converts your voice calls in analog voice into digital packets but also channels voice data through IP networks such as LAN , WAN , Internet etc using the Internet Protocol (IP) .

  • VOIP system on LAN ( Local Area Network ) can use it as its backbone system to establish communication between endpoints . For example : Office communication system within the same enterprise/building  .
  • Similarity  VOIP over WAN ( Wide Area Network ) use the help  of IP PBX and VoIP service provider to enable communication across Internet . For example : OTT providers and internet calls .
  • By using the services of telecom providers in support with above plan it is also possible to land a VOIP call onto a real phone over GSM / PSTN via gateways .

 

As you opt for a IP telephony system , number of factors come into picture such as :

  1. Bandwidth
    Low bandwidth has always been a big concern for IP calls . While a LAN connection ensures good experience , calls over internet or VOIP PBX are not necessarily as neat. Network switching between different Internet service providers is factor.
  2. Inter-operability
    connecting remote works / employees to the VOIP network requires interoperablity between their hand held device like android , ios , tablets , smart watch or other types od communication devices such as hardphone, desktop-systems , kiosk , surveillance cams etc
  3. Traffic
    max simultaneous call ie peak traffic rate can create bottlenecks in comm channel or worse still result in high bandwidth usage . for example as p2p conf call between 5 parties will create a mesh network between each participant resulting in 4 outgoing and 4 incoming channels .
  4. QoS (Quality of service )
    call drops , prioritize important calls
    Security
    preventing the attacks and hacks , keeping information secure by encryption end to end ,
  5. AAA
    managing Authentication , Authorization and accounting
  6. Reuse existing Hardware
    replacing old hardware or installing softphone apps on mobiles etc .
  7. Scaling
    Will the comm system grow as your business grows ?
    If yes then how easy will it be to accommodate new users , office location , remote centers etc ?
  8. Codecs
    Under low bandwidth condition it is a good idea to switch to low resolution ( in case of video ) and low bandwidth codec ( in case of audio ) .

Some of the positive aspects of using VOIP are :

  1. ROI
    Return of investment is a big factor for SME before making the switch to IP telephony inplace of traditional established system like landline phone and cables. However it is for a fact that once the VOIP comm system is setup , it most certainly reduces call costs by 70%.
  2. Third party Interations
    It is often a necessaity to integrate communication system with CRM ( content realationship management ) systems or Sales management systems . Since most web portals are on IP , VOIP fits very well, with the click to call on webpage itself .
  3. VAS
    Value Added Services , refer to services such as IVR , call recoring , find-me-follo-me , voicemail , re-routing , called ID etc . In short it can add intelligence to the way calls are managed .

Hosting the PBX

Unified communication Solutions as SaaS or IaaS refer to on-premise or cloud-hosted IP PBX Solutions. Comparison of both is as follows

On -premise Cloud Based
The solution is usually of the SaaS nature ( software as a service ) which is hosted by the consumer / business unit itself . The service provider offers his infrastructure to the consumer as a service and bills monthly / yearly etc .
Hosting the solution system on premise and setting up the infrastructure means more customization and flexibility but it also means more investment and maintenance . On the other hand hosting the solution on cloud is often a quick setup with relatively lower upfront payment. The billing is either carried out per per user basis or based on consumption . The data is synced to cloud servers for storage and can be fetched from there when required such as cloud synced Call-logs or contact-book .

Convergence Vision 

We already know some of the latest trends of industry with respect to telecom convergence such as :

FMC

Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC) stands for integrating user’s fixed desk phone with his mobile phone. Call continuity is a VAS( Value added service ) which lets him to switch calls between different call devices even softphones , mid call also. It has multi-faced advantages such as not missing any call on account of being out of office , having the same call preferences on each device such as blocked numbers , IVR settings etc .

UC

Unified Communication refers to the accessibility of all communication and collaboration services from the users call agent ( phone / soft-phone ) . These services can include file transfer , chat , conference , call settings , blocking , white-listing , fax , cloud sync , call logs , called ID , favorites , recording .
Read more about Unified communication and collaboration here .

BYOD
Bring your own device is one of the hottest trends in industry almost across all domains where user is expected or is given to option to bring his personal laptop for official use . It is the responsibility of enterprise comm system to seamlessly integrate it with in-office communication system and provide the same privileges and security to business critical applications as preset in configuration settings .
It increases the flexibility and productivity while keeping the infrastructure cost down.

IMS provided Network Interoperability and Access Independence

ims-access-network-independence

IMS based tele-coommunication convergence described in figure below

  • clients get direct connectivity to IP PBX in offices or hotels
  • home users connect through cable wires or Wifi/WiMax
  • non SIP based legacy endpoints connect via signalling and media gateways

The access endpoints connecte to a single managed core IP network which intercoonectes with IMS core . The back end system not only manages calls and sessions but also registration  ,  billing , operations and adminstartion.

IMS convergence vision

picture courtesy – unknowni

 Intelligent Network   —>    Next Generation IMS System 

The signalling protocols migration like from signalling system 7 (SS7) to session initial protocol (SIP) have been taking place in Telco-Industry. Similarly nodes of legacy network like signal transfer point (STP) of legacy network are being migrated to call session control function (CSCF) of IMS  that allows the rapid development and deployment of enhanced, revenue-generating multimedia services for fixed, mobile and cable operators.

IMS architecture enables operators to seamlessly run a plethora of next-generation converged services over their fixed, mobile and cable networks, achieve a faster time-to-market for new services and have fewer performance bottlenecks.

converged telecommunications

Business benefits of IMS 

  1. Delivering Services: Delivering services and applications on a “wherever, however, whenever” basis.
  2. Multimedia services: Enabling service providers to offer multimedia services across both next-gen, packet-switched networks and traditional circuit-switched networks.
  3. Protocol stack: IMS architecture provides pipes and protocols onto which service providers can attach no. of applications very conveniently.
  4. Open Source standard: IMS architecture is based on open standard which makes it possible for different vendors of hardware and software to integrate with each other seamlessly.

As a subscriber, one of the main benefits of the IMS architecture is the capacity of the network to deliver the same set of services whatever the access network used.

convergence

This is made possible thanks to the centralization of the service execution process. A specific call server of the control plan (called Serving Call Session Control Function, S-CSCF) is responsible for invoking the application servers based on criteria provisioned in the central database. The S-CSCF gets these criteria (called Initial Filter Criteria) during the user’s registration in the IMS network.

Circuit Switched Voice –> Packet based VOIP 

Voice over IP revolutionized in the Telecommunication space.It also makes your communication experience much richer and nicer with a series of enhanced features and extended possibilities. The no. of user migrating from traditional circuit switched network to IP has been quite substantial in recent years. CSP are embracing VOIP technology as a potential revenue generator and investing huge chunk of money to create value propositions for themselves in VOIP.


 

Conclusion

In conclusion here are the top business benefits of adopting a converged and unified IP telephony solution such as IMS and SIP are

Cost Savings:
Saving money is the number-one reason most businesses and households make the switch to a VoIP system, VoIP systems don’t require a phone cabinet or on-site routing equipment- just phones.

Features:
VoIP also allows users to take advantage of advanced features only available on internet-based phone systems. Features like online call monitoring, and online phone system access to add or configure extensions are also available with VoIP systems.

Flexibility:
VoIP allows people to go mobile and call directly from their cell phone and be charged at low VoIP rates

Tracking Options:
Since VoIP is an internet-based system, user can track and manage their system from their computer. Most VoIP systems allow user to track call volume and call time fairly easily- a feature that can be especially helpful for businesses that bill clients hourly or for time spent on the phone.