LIMA Lawful Intercept11 December 2023Read more
5G technology and design choices are changing LI requirements, part 2. Capacity and Filtering needs for LEA’s.
This is the second blog post in our blog series: “How 5G technology and design choices are changing Lawful interception requirements”. In the first blog post of this series, I provided a brief overview of the not-so-obvious implications that each of the introductory phases of 5G technology will have on Lawful Interception. We continue this series with a deep dive about the impact of the increased capacity of 5G networks.
In 1998, Jakub Nielsen of the Nielsen Norman Group introduced the Nielsen law of Internet Bandwidth. The law says that the bandwidth available to high-end broadband connections will grow by 50 percent each year, leading to a 57x compound growth in capacity in a decade. So far, the law has held with minor variations.
Recent bandwidth capacity increases are mainly related to the increased adoption of high bandwidth networks like fiber broadband and the eMBB (LTE / 5G).
Not only does the bandwidth increase per device, but 5G networks can also handle significantly more simultaneous connected devices. This latter impacts the overall data increase even further. This would be best illustrated during a large sports event, where many connected devices are simultaneously sharing content with e.g., friends and family.
Having more bandwidth and capacity available will also change the usage behavior. E.g., more streaming, downloading, and broadcasting of video content will happen at a higher quality as users no longer face bandwidth limitations or capacity caps.
Lawful Interception infrastructure should be able to handle this increase in data. Not only the Mediation Function and the LEMF are impacted but also the connectivity between the Mediation Function and the LEMF.
With the increasing amount of high throughput data streams, the costs of processing this data will increase as well. Not all data is relevant for an investigation. However, for example, Netflix applications and OS updates carry no user data. Filtering out high-bandwidth content such as streaming of (multi-)media is more important than ever.
Existing LEMF equipment is often limited in the capability of filtering-out data before long-term storage and before in-depth reconstruction takes place. Filtering out non-relevant data will positively impact the capacity needs of the LEMF, the required human resources to analyze this data, and, depending on the overall solution architecture also, the connectivity costs towards the LEMF systems.
Filtering out non-relevant data would need to take place on content originating from specific data sources or based upon the type of content. Preferably this filtering would take place as part of the Mediation Function within the service providers domain, as this would reduce the capacity needs throughout the entire Lawful Interception chain from the Mediation Function to the handover interfaces up to the LEMF.
Unfortunately, in most jurisdictions, this is not (yet) allowed as service providers are generally obliged by law and regulations to hand over all content unaltered. As such, for broadband service providers, there would be a growing need for a High-Performance Mediation Function.
However, for the LEA, an alternative would be to add a filtering function within the domain of the LEMF. With this approach, the impact due to possible limited capabilities of a LEMF for the ingesting, storing, and analysing of increased amounts of data would be reduced or completely taken away. In addition, this approach would also positively impact the human resource needs to analyse the data. The result: no time needs to be spent anymore on non-relevant data.
History shows that due to Nielsen’s law, service providers will continue to invest in faster (mobile) broadband services.
As a result, each broadband service provider would ultimately require a high-performance mediation function, and smart-filtering capabilities for lawful intercept will become a mandatory necessity for each LEA/LEMF.
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