Introduction to SS7 Infrastructureand Signaling
Because the primary application of signaling gateways is to allowTDM networks to interconnect with emerging IP-based IMS networks,the demand for signaling gateways will grow until IMS networksachieve the same subscriber capacity as TDM networks. At thisinflection point, demand for signaling gateways will be driven bythe need to provide carrier-to-carrier signaling demarcation (orfirewall). A number of factors have energized SS7 signaling growthbeyond simple “call control” to provision enhanced services forTDM and IP domains. These factors include new subscribergrowth rates in emerging markets, steady growth in SMS messaging,VoIP-enhanced services, and interoperability between the legacypublic switched telephone network (PSTN) and next-generationnetworks. The market for network elements using SS7-basedsignaling (MSCs, SSPs, STPs, HLRs, SMSSs, and SS7 gateways)remains strong and is expected to grow to $8 billion by 008.
A signaling gateway transports application signaling between theSS7 network and the IP network, serving to bridge legacy PSTNwith the packet-switched, next-generation network. When used inconjunction with softswitches, media gateways, application servers,and media servers, a signaling gateway provides the call controlfunctionality and service processing capabilities of traditional PSTNswitches. Signaling gateways implement SS7 protocol stack andrelated SS7-over-IP SIGTRAN subcomponents.Signaling Transport (SIGTRAN) addresses issues of transport, includingsignaling performance within IP networks, and interworking withthe PSTN. It also addresses SIP/MEGACO/ISUP interworking suchas translating the MTP-based SS7 message (such as IAM) to anIP-based message (such as IP IAM), and translation from pointcode to IP address.
Signaling Protocol Stacks
Figure 1 shows the signaling protocol layers for SIGTRAN and SS7in the boxes on the left and right, respectively. The center box showsthe protocol layers that are the focus of a signaling gateway.There are many different SS7 application protocols specific tovarious SS7 network elements in both wireline and wirelessnetworks. ISUP and TCAP, shown in Figure 1, are only two ofthese protocols. It is important to note that the signaling gatewaydoes not need to be aware of the protocols used above the Layer 4signaling connection control part (SCCP).Figure shows the relationship between the SS7 (blue) and SIGTRAN(gray) protocol layers. The signaling gateway maps the SS7 protocolsto the equivalent SIGTRAN protocol (and vice versa) at the same layerwhen SS7 messages need to be sent between TDM networks and IMSnetworks. As the diagram shows, there are typically different optionsfor protocols in each of the layers. The signaling gateway needs tosupport all these options.
Signaling Gateway IP SignalingEnd PointSS7 Node
NIFApplicationISUPTCAPSCCPM3UAMTP3MTP2MTP1SCTPIPSCCPM3UA MTP3ATMMTP2MTP1SSCFSSCOPSCTPIPIP SS7ApplicationISUPTCAPSCCP
SIGTRAN and SS7 protocol stacks