Voice and media processing as service enablers – the evolving role of SRF and MRF
Voice processing is a key capability that provides valuable functionality for many services. Operators depend on carrier-grade SRF and MRF functions for regulated and key B2B services. These need to adapt to fit new service logic handling, spanning complex service chains and network slices.
We’re very used to the role voice and media processing play as key elements that contribute to user experience in call handling. They provide the capabilities to support interactive voice sessions, as well as to enable multi-party communications, for example. As such, they are fundamental to any business communications system – and are integral to the solutions we deliver.
In the Intelligent Network and CAMEL worlds, voice processing was handled by the Specialised Resource Function, or SRF. With the advent of IMS, this evolved to a general purpose – but still carrier-grade – Media Resource Function. This was intended to deliver the additional benefit of providing resources to enrich many other services too. However, in practice, the MRF was typically dedicated to a few key applications. That’s because it’s not enough simply to access such functions, specific service logic needs to be activated in order to ensure that the required capabilities are delivered.
Increasingly, voice processing is also becoming a temporary function that is required only if certain conditions are met. We’re moving from classical services, in which a preconfigured logic dictates what happens, according to trigger conditions, into a more fluid environment in which voice processing may be called for only occasionally and by a wider range of applications, across a number of logical networks.
This service volatility is one consequence of the need for service chaining, which is key to unlocking service interaction in virtual and future 5G-enabled networks. It builds on efforts to remove silos of resources that are dedicated to specific applications.
These service logic chains mean that SRF / MRF processing needs to be maintained inside the protected boundaries of operator networks – ensuring that real-time, regulated performance can be offered for critical services.
In the new network model, operators will need robust, carrier-grade media resources that can support key, regulated functions and which can also be available for other applications and services, on an as-needed basis. In other words, they will perform all voice and media processing functions, across a growing range of static (fixed logic) and volatile (dynamic logic) services. Operators need to be able to protect key resources while federating access behind core security processes.
This is an area we were we are delivering new solutions as our operator partners look to replace key silos (e.g. for emergency call handling, which is highly regulated) with consolidated platforms that can also extend capabilities to other services, on an as-needed basis. This will be particularly important as operators move towards enabling network slices, in which different virtual networks share the same physical resources, creating complex chains that connect different logical networks to shared physical resources.
If you are an operator that needs to consolidate media services for different applications, we can help orchestrate the service logic and ensure smooth access, with full carrier-grade protection. Our approach ensures that combined SRF / MRF functions can provide the robust capabilities operators need for current and future services, across complex service chains, ensuring consistency and optimised performance.