17th July 2019

IP migration at your own pace

The trend of telecommunication operators migrating their legacy transmission networks to all-IP technologies continues to accelerate. The adoption of all-IP equipment is fuelled by end-of-life systems and the explosion in next-generation of high bandwidth applications. But what about the customers who don’t want to fully move to IP right now?

Applications which use legacy equipment are a lot more common than you may think, with equipment such as radio & mobile backhaul, automated teller machines and lottery terminals still very much in everyday use. But with the additional costs and added complexity of replacing systems, it is now common for telecoms operators to migrate core network technology to IP in order to take advantage of new features, improve SLAs and avoid disrupting end customers.

These end customers, who have made huge investments in expensive legacy equipment, need to easily migrate to new IP networks. As such, specialised legacy migration solutions continue to be developed to essentially ‘bridge’ the gap and provide the gateway between the old and new.

Extending the life of current applications

There are many organisations already benefiting from IP migration. For example, many rail operators’ radio system equipment currently connects to a leased line with the radio traffic backhauled over the TDM network. Existing TDM networks are now being replaced by an IP network and migration products are used to convert TDM to an IP stream. The traffic is sent over a secure IP network to the central site where migration gateways convert the traffic back to TDM. This enables a more efficient and cost-effective migration of the back-end system, with reduced service disruption for end users.  

Another example is mobile backhaul. Mobile operators’ radio base stations receive mobile phone traffic and backhaul over ATM. When the ATM network is being switched off, a migration solution is used to convert the ATM traffic at the radio base station to Ethernet and transport the IP over Ethernet to the mobile network.

Different solutions are available depending on the type of legacy network. For IP migration products, end customers can retain equipment running legacy protocols, such as X.25, leased line and ATM typically using pseudo-wire technology.

Why pseudo-wire?

A pseudo-wire provides a mechanism that emulates the attributes of a service over a Packet Switched Network (PSN), such as Ethernet, IP or MPLS – allowing customers to transport legacy ATM, TDM and Frame Relay traffic over a carrier IP network. “Conversion” devices, placed at the points in the network where legacy equipment interfaces with the carrier network, give customers a number of benefits:

Flexibility - offer a flexible means of converting between various different types’ legacy (ATM, TDM, SDH) payload types and packet based traffic. They offer a standardised and easy to maintain solution in providing the mechanisms to deliver the packetisation and encapsulation required to cope with the latency and jitter inherent from the packet network.

Cost efficiencies - for customers who do not wish to replace legacy equipment, but still require access to services carried over the latest packet based networks pseudo-wires provide cost effective solutions. They give customers and service providers the ability to still deliver solutions providing the same quality of service and meeting their existing SLA’s, whilst giving them the opportunity to defer major capital expenditure.  

With an upturn in demand for these migration products, it would appear that manufacturers of IP migration products are playing an increasing key role in allowing customers and operators to deliver IP migration in a more manageable timeframe that suits them both.