Juniper to integrate mobile networks and edge routers

As mobile networks become IP-based router vendors' interest grows, says analyst

At next week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Juniper Networks will launch products that integrate mobile networks into its MX 3D Universal Edge routers and let third party vendors integrate their applications into mobile networks.

In the fourth quarter the router vendor will ship services cards for the MX 3D Universal Edge router family that come with built-in support for LTE (Long-Term Evolution) services, according to Paul Gainham, Juniper's director of service provider marketing for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Using its Junos Space network application platform, Juniper will also open up the mobile core network for third-party developers and the operators themselves, so they can develop and run their own applications, Gainham said.

"We are not stipulating what [those applications] might be, but we are providing the platform," said Gainham, who hopes this will result in more innovative services for users.

Built-in support for mobile networks is a new area for Juniper, and it isn't the only router vendor that sees next-generation mobile networks as an opportunity. On Tuesday, Cisco Systems also announced its first product resulting from its acquisition of Starent Networks, a company that specializes in equipment for the core of mobile networks.

Mobile networks are undergoing a transformation to become IP (Internet Protocol) based, and where IP is present both Cisco and Juniper want to be as well, according to Richard Webb, directing analyst at market research company Infonetics.

Juniper will also announce new features that will let the MX 3D Universal Edge router family off-load mobile networks and improve how the network copes with a growing amount of multimedia traffic.

Traffic Direct will off-load the central parts of the operator's mobile network, and introduce more intelligence to the edge of the network. For example, the authentication of users is handled as before, but using traffic monitoring, Internet-bound traffic can be off-loaded, according to Gainham.

Juniper is also looking to integrate content delivery network functionality into its edge router family. In October Juniper announced a partnership with Ankeena Networks, and that has now resulted in a feature called Media Flow. The goal is to get popular video content closer to the user, and not burden the network with excess traffic, Gainham said.

At first, Media Flow will use a separate appliance, but in the future Juniper is planning to integrate the feature into the router chassis.

Both Traffic Direct and Media Flow will start shipping in the second quarter, according to Gainham. Juniper isn't announcing any pricing, he said.

Mobile World Congress will run from Feb. 15 to 18.

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