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Overview of ISUP

The ISDN User Part (ISUP) has been used in U.S. networks for many years now as an alternative to the European equivalent, the Telephone User Part (TUP). In early im- plementations of Signaling System 7 (SS7), TUP was found to be far too limited for the scope of North American networks and was modified to align with the future services of Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) and many other network features still under development. Today, many of those features are under implementation, and the SS7 network is being utilized more and more. However, much of its potential is still untapped.

ISUP has been a good protocol for circuit-related messages, but is already under mod- ification to support new broadband services soon to be offered by major telephone com- panies. The new broadband services being offered for tomorrow\u2019s networks will require a new version of ISUP called broadband ISUP (BISUP).

The ISUP is used to set up and tear down all circuits used for data or voice calls in the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). In addition to its usage in the PSTN, ISUP can also be found in wireless networks for establishing trunk connections be- tween switching centers.

ISUP is not widely used throughout the world; in fact, the United States was the first to adopt ISUP for usage in its networks. The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is currently developing an international version of ISUP, which will be used in the international plane. Other countries use ISUP\u2019s predecessor, the TUP.

TUP does not offer the same services and capabilities as ISUP, which was designed with the ISDN in mind, and is fully compatible with the signaling in ISDN. It was for this reason that ISUP quickly replaced TUP in U.S. networks.

In fact, the TUP is considered almost obsolete for those wanting to offer more control over their circuits. TUP is good for physical circuit connections, but is not capable of handling virtual circuits, which are permanent in digital networks.


Another shortcoming of the TUP is its incapability to supportbearer circuits. In a dig- ital network, there are both physical and logical circuits that are dependent on the amount of data being sent by the user. This bearer traffic determines how many virtual circuits will be needed to accommodate the data. The ISUP provides the mechanisms for supporting bearer traffic, but does not fully support broadband signaling, which uses a different scheme altogether.

Additional work is currently underway to accommodate the new broadband services
to be offered by the telephone companies.Asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) and
broadband ISDN(BISDN) are making their way into the PSTN, replacing the existing

DS3 and DS1 facilities that were used for so many years between exchanges. These new facilities will bring new configuration parameters and choices to be made by the protocol.

The support of BISDN (which will become the subscriber interface to the broadband network) through the SS7 network is accommodated by a new signaling protocol\u2014 BISUP. Many similarities exist between ISUP and BISUP; in fact, the same procedures and message types are used in both. The exception in BISUP lies in additional message types and changes in how circuits will be assigned to a call connection.

Another fundamental difference being introduced with broadband signaling is the advent of fully associated signaling rather than quasi-associated signaling. Fully asso- ciated signaling is accomplished by using the same path as the voice circuit, as would be the case when a channel from a DS3 circuit is used for signaling, and the other chan- nels are used for voice and data. Once ATM has been deployed in the telephone net- works, SS7 will be sent through the ATM network along with the voice and data.

This will work just fine and accomplishes the same task as quasi-associated signal- ing, which relies on signal transfer points (STPs) to relay the messages from the origi- nating exchange to the destination exchange. ATM will not eliminate the need for SS7 networks, but it will change the protocols and add additional functions.Signaling ATM

adaptation layer (SAAL) will eliminate Message Transfer Part(MTP) level 2, for exam-
ple, on ATM links.

The STP will not disappear, but its role may change somewhat. The STP is still needed as a gateway into networks or even as a gateway into certain regions within a network. The STP continues to provide global title translation services as well as data- base access. Additional features and functions are likely placed on STPs to justify their existence.

There is no problem with sending all of the BISUP traffic through the ATM network and leaving the SS7 network for database access and other control functions. In fact, as the Advanced Intelligent Network (AIN) is deployed and implemented in existing networks, the traffic mix within the SS7 network will become predominantly based on

Transaction Capabilities Application Part(TCAP) and Signaling Connection Control
Part(SCCP) anyway.

BISUP has been included in this chapter because of its similarities with normal ISUP. The new protocol is explained in less detail than normal ISUP as the standards are still being defined.

300 Chapter 9
ISUP Services

There are two types of ISUP services: basic and supplementary. Basic service provides the support for establishing connections for circuits within the network. These circuits can be audio circuits for voice transmission or data circuits for any digital information, voice or data. Supplementary services are all other circuit-related services, which typ- ically encompass message transport after a call path is established.

In addition to the two types of services, ISUP uses two methods for end-to-end sig- naling. End-to-end signaling is the process of sending circuit-related information from one exchange to a distant exchange. These two exchanges may be adjacent to each other or across Local Access Transport Areas (LATAs).

The method currently used for passing signaling information to the distant exchange is called the pass-along method. With the pass-along method, the signaling information moves from one exchange to the next. All subsequent information related to the same circuit is then passed using the same path that was used to send the initial call setup information. This, of course, means that information must follow the same ISUP hops as the setup messages, which is not the most efficient method of routing.

The alternative method is called the SCCP method and uses the services of the SCCP protocol to route the message through the network. When using the SCCP protocol, the information does not have to follow the same path as the call setup information. In fact, it can follow any path, provided the final destination is the same.

The SCCP method uses true network routing and is probably more favorable for serv- ices that require information to be shared between exchanges when a call is in progress. However, this method is not used today.

The ISUP message provides important data regarding the service being requested of
the remote exchange. These services are related to the circuit specified in the initial ad-
dress message(IAM), which is the initial setup message used in this protocol. The re-
ceiver of an IAM then must determine if it has the resources necessary to provide the
type of service being requested.

The IAM provides the distant exchange with the calling and called party numbers as well as information regarding the availability of SS7 signaling, whether or not the ISUP protocol is required end to end, and the type of network signaling available (if SS7 is not used throughout the network). The IAM also indicates whether or not further in- formation will be available using subsequent messages.

The ISUP protocol uses the services of the MTP to send signaling messages from one signaling point to another. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) stan- dards and the ITU standards do allow for the use of SCCP services as well, although currently no applications in U.S. networks are available. The concept of using SCCP with ISUP is to allow end-to-end signaling without having to send messages to each in- termediate exchange.

An example of how ISUP messages travel from one exchange to another is found in the diagram in Figure 9.1. This diagram shows that an ISUP setup message or IAM is used to connect both ends of the voice trunk between the originating exchange and the next exchange or tandem exchange. Once the connection is established, another

Overview of ISUP 301

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