When it comes to developing new telecom technologies, there are hundreds of different factors to consider. Yet one crucial aspect of this process that cannot be overlooked is ensuring compliance with industry standards.
The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) is a collection of organizations that develop and recommend standards for the telecommunications industry.
The collective was initially formed in December 1998 when the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) partnered with other standard development organizations to evolve the new technologies for the third generation (3G) of cellular networks. Since its formation, 3GPP has developed the most widely used 3G standard, as well as global fourth-generation (4G) and fifth-generation (5G) standards.
Technology engineers are advised to follow these principles when developing their products. The global technical specifications ensure compatibility between components because those standards are governing how those different systems and devices are built around the globe.
The adoption of SIP by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) as a call control protocol was a major milestone for the standardization world as the IMS architecture became the first SIP-based standard commercial system, setting the guideline for following developments. Driven by the demand for multimedia communication services, the industry had to search for an efficient way to deploy those services in the existing and new networks. Wireless telecommunication operators and vendors had to adapt quickly, enabling a rapid introduction of IP and SIP services into their network through the IMS. The standardization effort has been driven by the 3GPP in close work with the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to ensure the harmonization of standards.
SIP standards set the baseline for the creation of CSCF and other functional elements in the IMS network, ensuring the interoperability of various network elements (UE, CSCF, etc), defining basic communication rules between the elements, and setting the guidelines for interconnecting with other network architectures. The standard body comprises the standards for data plane, user plane as well as session control in the SIP network.
Why is it important for vendors to be standards-compliant
There are a number of reasons why observing 3GPP principles is beneficial to vendors and operators alike, these include:
Operators will often look to integrate different technologies from multiple sources and vendors. Adhering to 3GPP’s standards allows vendors to incorporate best-in-class methodologies, processes, and engineering specifications, ensuring that the technologies required by operators all ‘speak the same language’ and can effectively integrate with one another.
Importantly, while 3GPP encourages companies to adhere to a specific standard, it does not stifle innovation or differentiation in the market as no limit is placed on how vendors develop and incorporate software together.
Talking of scalability, by meeting the standards set out by 3GPP, vendors, and operators can avoid a ‘rip and replace’ approach to existing infrastructure, making the deployment process faster and more cost-effective for all involved. Developing technologies in such a way that they’ll easily fit in with existing systems and can be easily adapted depending on growing subscriber bases, also allows for greater scalability as operator networks change and evolve.
The ability of customers and businesses to use their devices in multiple countries can also be attributed to the principles developed by 3GPP. Through these standards, network equipment can be manufactured and operated around the world, with no restrictions on usage – a huge development for the industry and a crucial factor for operators seeking scalability beyond their home borders.
Going one step further
The above factors are crucial to operators. However, the benefits of standardization go a step further and encourage greater collaboration across the industry. Technology developers are all working towards the common goal of furthering innovation in telecommunications, and by following the same standards and developing interoperable solutions, this can be done collectively, for the future of the industry.
ng-voice’s cloud-native IMS VoLTE / VoNR solution is standard-compliant, ensuring that it follows the principles laid out by 3GPP and can be integrated alongside other vendor technologies.
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Software engineer and team lead
After years of experience in VoIP in Ukraine and Austria, Andrii joined ng-voice as a Software Engineer and is using his vast knowledge of telco-specific protocols and Kamailio programming to further develop our fully cloud-native and standard-based IMS core.