PDSN packet inspection

Today Nortel presented their solution for monitoring and billing high bandwidth users of the wireless broadband network.  Software running directly in the Starent PDSN  basically uses deep packet inspection to implement traffic shaping.  The product is called Enhanced Charging Services (ECS) and it claims to provide integrated content-based billing.  The solution as presently sold might not truly be called “deep” packet inspection.  It only looks as deeply as layer 4, TCP and UDP packets.

It claims these features:

  • Content Billing via bearer packet inspection
  • Supported on PDSN for Simple IP, HA for Mobile IP
  • Protocol Analyzers supported: HTTP, IP, TCP, UDP, WAP 1.x & 2.0, RTSP, RTP, POP3, MMS, SMTP, WTP,WSP, FTP, TFTP, ICMP, SIP, etc.
  • integration with 3rd-party prepaid billing applications

Configuring ECS to analysyze these protocols uses a rules-based approach to instruct a protocol analyzer stack to evaluate a packet stream.  The resulting output can be piped to a charging engine that allows sophisticated actions to be taken against the stream, including interfacing with a prepaid billing application. The billing and accounting capability allows the operator to interface with a RADIUS or AAA server for finer control of network services.  An interface to the Camiant Policy Server is also supported.

An adjunct storage server also can be installed for longer term storage or to allow downstream applications to access the billing records produced by ECS.  Starent says deeper packet inspectio, into higher layers of the protocol stack, is on the product development roadmap for a future release.