GTP or GPRS Tunneling Protocol is a mobile network specific protocol that came to life during the 2.5G days in the late 90s when a technology known as General Packet Radio Services (GPRS) was defined for data communication over a mobile network. The standard has evolved and is used in both 4G LTE and emerging 5G networks.
GTP is an IP-in-IP tunneling protocol in the sense that an original IP packet created by a mobile device such as a phone or tablet–for example to access google.com–is sent into a mobile network core. This original IP packet must be delivered unadulterated to the Internet, however there are various interactions within the mobile network core itself that are required to successfully deliver the packet. These interactions include procedures such as cell handover, QoS, billing, network routing and more. In order to seamlessly accomplish these actions, the mobile network embeds or tunnels the original IP packet inside another IP (using UDP) packet that uses local addressing and a well-defined tunnel endpoint identifier (TEID) to track the specific phone or tablet that originated the message.
An ANIC adapter can be used to monitor traffic in a GTP tunnel and correlate that traffic to a specific subscriber or set of subscribers. This level of visibility is critical to service providers so they can improve session performance and the subscriber’s quality of experience. It is also helpful for lawful intercept when a service provider is compelled by law enforcement to track a specific subscriber.
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