Intelligent Networks

Mar 23, 1999

Shunxing Chen
Department of Surveying

Linfeng Yang
Department of Computer Science

Helsinki University of Technology  


IN has become one of the most critical technologies in the information industry because of its promise of quick service deployment, efficient network resource utilisation, vendor independence through standardisation, and the separation of intelligence and switching functionality. This essay gives a general description of IN technology and application.

1. Introduction

An intelligent network (IN) is a service-independent telecommunications network. That is, intelligence is taken out of the switch and placed in computer nodes that are distributed throughout the network. This provides the network operator with the means to develop and control services more efficiently. New capabilities can be rapidly introduced into the network. Once introduced, services are easily customized to meet individual customer's needs. The orginal IN networks were introduced by BELLCORE organization in the US in the mid 80's. The concept was a success over there and manufacturers all over the world - especially in Europe - began to develop it. [1]

Intelligent Network systems enable service providers to differentiate themselves from their competitors, increase revenue, and enhance the quality and scope of services to their subscribers. Services may be customized for each user, and end users can control their service through reconfiguration via the telephone or PC workstation. Because Intelligent Network systems often comply with standard interfaces, service providers are less likely to find themselves locked into their suppliers.

The basic promise of the Intelligent Network is to separate the core intelligence and databases for controlling services from the switching elements. This separation results in the optimization of software, database and hardware architectures, permitting developers and operators to implement value-added network and subscriber services, such as optimal routing, satellite-cellular roaming, voice mail, single number service, alternate billing, call forwarding, call barring and conference calling. These services translate into expanded network capacity and revenue while increasing subscriber-base and customer satisfaction. [3]

There are two types of INs in the world today. One has been developed by ITU and is called IN CS-1 (Capability Set 1). This is an international IN standard . The second one, is the Advanced Intelligent Network, AIN which has been standardized over the past 15 years by Bellcore in the United States.

2. Why intelligent networking?

The main benefit of intelligent networks is the ability to improve existing services and develop new sources of revenue. To meet these objectives, providers require the ability to:

Introduce New Services Rapidly

IN provides the capability to provision new services or modify existing services throughout the network with physical intervention.

Provide Service Customization

Service providers require the ability to change the service logic rapidly and efficiently. Customers are also demanding control of their own services to meet their individual needs.

Establish Vendor Independence

A major criteria for service providers is that the software must be developed quickly and inexpensively. To accomplish this, suppliers have to integrate commercially available software to create the applications required by service providers.

Create Open Interfaces

Open interfaces allow service providers to introduce network elements quickly for individualized customer services. The software must interface with other vendors' products while still maintaining stringent network operations standards. Service providers are no longer relying on one or two vendors to provide equipment and software to meet customer requirements. [1.Topic 3]

Local Number Portability

Intelligent networking seems tailor-made for local number portability deployment. It can be used to centrally deploy local number portability from one or more service control points (SCPs) that act as the network "brain," providing the service ubiquitously and immediately to all service switching points over an SS7 network.

The SCP centralizes local number portability service data, allowing for quick and relatively inexpensive administrative changes by a third party. All service providers have equal access to local number portability data . As following figure:

The intelligent network is likely the most viable solution to fulfill the FCC(Federal Communications Commission)'s mandate. Once it is deployed, LECs (local exchange carriers) will find they have not only met the FCC mandate, they also have a new competitive advantage through intelligent network service deployment.

Intelligent networking allows a wireless handset to be used as a cordless phone--charged at landline rates--when the user is close to home, or as a cellular phone when the user is farther away. The intelligent network services architecture also allows for easier customization of a service, further strengthening the LECs' competitive edge as they tailor offerings to their individual markets.

And once the intelligent network infrastructure is deployed for local number portability, the incremental cost of installing new intelligent network services is reduced. [6]

3. Architecture of IN

Figure 1

[1.Topic 5]

An IN infrastructure typically involves service logic on network platforms, an out-of-band signaling system, and IN-capable software in the network switch. With this infrastructure in place, service providers, end users and third parties can, in theory, create and modify services independently of switch vendors. [5]

No one knows exactly when the term Intelligent Networks first entered the telecom lexicon. Nor is it all together clear what differentiates an Intelligent Network from an Advanced Intelligent Network (AIN) outside of the latterās greater receptiveness to Independent Peripherals (IPs). What is clear is that the introduction of SS7 was a turning point. Eyeing the considerable revenues even such elementary services held, telcos moved quickly during the late 1970s, and early 1980s to leverage their burgeoning SS7 platforms accordingly.

For soon after the break up of AT&T in 1984, Bell Communications Research Inc. (Bellcore), the Baby Bellsā newly formed R&D facility, began modeling an AIN architecture that regional holding companies could use to deploy value-added services quickly and cost effectively. In Bellcoreās now classic AIN Model, Signal System 7 is used in one of two ways. If the call is an ordinary one, SS7 maps out and then initiates the necessary connections via established out-of-band procedures. But if the call entails an enhanced service like voice-activated dialing, a more elaborate process is triggered. Here SS7 intervenes to divert the mainstream POTS call to specially dedicated databases called Intelligent Peripherals where the enhanced service resides. The call begins as any call would, its set-up signal directed to a service switching point (SSP), a multi-port network-server installed next to a matrix switch housed at a Class 5 Central Office Switching Station. The SSP reads the incoming signal first and realizes from its coding that special treatment is required.

At this point, SS7 takes on the added responsibilities. It temporarily suspends call completion and queries a companion database server called a service control point (SCP) about where to reroute the incoming call. The SCP rapidly scans the service logic and associated addresses to intelligent peripherals (IPs) contained either in its resident hard drives or in a remote host system. An answer in hand, the SCP then signals the correct forwarding address back to the SSP. The call, still idling at the SSP, is then released and transported through the in-band trunk to its updated destination.

The Service Management System (SMS) sits atop an AIN much like the STP sits atop a SS7 switching system. It literally runs everything below it. The SMSās hegemony does not end there, however. Service Operators additionally configure the SMS to manage such mission-critical tasks as billing or access authorization. Without SMS terminals to access detailed customer databases, delivering and charging subscribers÷the raison dāźtre of any AIN service-provider÷would not be nearly as practical.

An Intelligent Peripheral (IP) is no more than a computer linked via an open interface to a switch. The link most widely in use today is ISDN basic rate, the switch a Service Control Point, the IP typically an enhanced service providers (ESP) standalone. The latterās front-end, furthermore, often contains a switching component in addition to the media cards that hold the ESP systemās presentation layer ÷ the messages you hear and the functions you subsequently select. The IP directly queries the SCP for operating instructions since the callerās service profile is stored at the SCP. ISDN communications between IP and SCP is faster now that higher-layer protocols groom these transmissions just prior their leaving their signaling ports. And if powerful enough, the same intermediary SCP switch can serve multiple off-network IPs. If not, an array of complementary SCPs can be configured for the task. [2]


4. AIN/IN services

There is a list of what types of services that have been developed for the use within AINs is here. These are some typical examples:
Other servives that have been created and might be on the more curious side are, for example: Calling Party Pays (where the calling party is notified that it is trying to reach a cellular number); Inmate Service (routes prisoners' calls, tracks the call information, blocks certain numbers etc.); Work-at-Home (where an individual can be reached at home by dialing an office number as well as allowing the employee to have calls billed and tracked to a business phone number); Advertising Effectiveness Service (which collects information on incoming calls which is then used by advertisers to determine the demographics of their customers) and Inbound Call Restriction (which allows a customer to restrict some calls from coming into his location and is able to restrict calls by area code or particular phone numbers); [1.Topic11] and so on.

5. Conclusion

What is the future of AINs? What things will a customer be able to do with the AIN? Probably, anything you can imagine. You could do interactive home shopping, have music on demand, have the Internet on TV, have video links that allow complex images to be displayed hundreds of kilometers away. What is very probable is that SS7 together with IN functions will take over more and more of the service and traffic handling in the whole telecommuncations network.

# References

References are listed in alphabetical order and numbered.

[1]  Bellcore, Intelligent Network(IN) Tutorial[referred 28.3.1999] 
[2]  Communication Industry Researchers,Inc. Advanced Intelligent Networks: Opportunities in Network Control for the Coming Decade, [referred 28.3.1999] 
[3]  Edward Neubauer, IEX David Curran, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Intelligent Networks in Regional Mobile Satellite Systems, [referred 31.3.1999]
[4] Ericsson Telecom.Competence Development: Signalling System No 7.
[5]  Market Research Reports, The Market for Wireless Intelligent Networks 1997-2002, April 1997[referred 27.9.1998] 
[6]  RAMACHENDRA P. BATNI, The intelligent network's new role, November 11, 1996[referred 28.3.1999] 

# Further Information

Discribe the reasons of stupid networks.
Ireland Intelligent Network Group
Researching in Intelligent Networks and Services.
AIN bookmark
A reference list of AIN related.