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GPRS operators can transform their data networks from a simple IP traffic medium to a rich service delivery channel by deploying an intelligent GGSN
For many years, mobile network technology - the Global System for Mobile communication (GSM) and Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) - has been the dominant means of making voice calls when away from home or the office. Today, mobile packet data networks are just starting to be deployed and have yet to be widely adopted. However, there are ambitious hopes for this technology.
World standards bodies, such as the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), have defined the General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) architecture for second generation GSM, and the packet domain architecture for the Third Generation Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (3G UMTS).1 Unlike telephony, which has been enhanced by numerous revenue-generating supplementary services, such as call transfer, voice mail and the Short Message Service (SMS), packet data transmission provides few supplementary services, making it necessary for operators to earn revenue primarily from basic data transport. Although the standard has defined mechanisms for providing supplementary packet services based on intelligent network architecture and the Customized Applications for Mobile network Enhanced Logic (CAMEL) protocol, their functionality remains limited, particularly when it comes to differentiated charging systems.
In addition, a growing number of service providers are interacting directly with users in a manner that is totally transparent to the network, based on the internet philosophy of locating intelligence at the ends, thereby requiring the minimum of network services. Examples include downloading video and audio clips, games, ring tones, screen savers and MP3 files. The GPRS operator has no part to play and is thus reduced to the role of a simple "pipe" supplier.
The challenge for cellular operators will be to evolve to become suppliers of high added value services. Naturally, mobile operators can offer their own "end-to-end" services. In addition, because of their position as infrastructure managers, they can offer profitable enhancements linked to data transport. The Gateway GPRS Support Node (GGSN) can help mobile packet network operators to achieve this aim.
Evolution Paths for the GGSN
The GGSN can play a major part in the mobile operator's strategy of evolving from simply being a "pipe" provider to a deliverer/enabler of mobile data services
Part of the subscriber's data experience
Some new services undoubtedly belong to the mobile operator's domain (e.g. content servers and applications). Nevertheless, a major part of the content will be created by third parties. Content services, such as gaming, music, audio and video streaming, are best provided by content partners whose core business is built around creating and/or managing compelling content. Network operators' profitability can partly come from offering an intelligent delivery channel to a large number of content partners.