ISUP (ISDN User Part) defines the messages and protocol used in the establishment and tear down of voice and data calls over the public switched telephone network (PSTN), and to manage the trunk network on which they rely. Despite its name, ISUP is used for both ISDN and non–ISDN calls. In the North American version of SS7, ISUP messages rely exclusively on MTP to transport messages between concerned nodes.
ISUP controls the circuits used to carry either voice or data traffic. In addition, the state of circuits can be verified and managed using ISUP. The management of the circuit infrastructure can occur both at the individual circuit level and for groups of circuits.
Services that can be defined using ISUP include: Switching, Voice mail, Internet offload. ISUP is ideal for applications such as switching and voice mail in which calls are routed between endpoints.
When used in conjunction with TCAP and SIGTRAN, ISUP becomes an enabler for Internet offload solutions in which Internet sessions of relatively long duration can be isolated from relatively brief phone conversations.
A simple call flow using ISUP signaling is as follows:
Call set up: When a call is placed to an out-of-switch number, the originating SSP transmits an ISUP initial address message (IAM) to reserve an idle trunk circuit from the originating switch to the destination switch. The destination switch rings the called party line if the line is available and transmits an ISUP address complete message (ACM) to the originating switch to indicate that the remote end of the trunk circuit has been reserved. The STP routes the ACM to the originating switch which rings the calling party's line and connects it to the trunk to complete the voice circuit from the calling party to the called party.
Call connection: When the called party picks up the phone, the destination switch terminates the ringing tone and transmits an ISUP answer message (ANM) to the originating switch via its home STP. The STP routes the ANM to the originating switch which verifies that the calling party's line is connected to the reserved trunk and, if so, initiates billing.
Call tear down: If the calling party hangs-up first, the originating switch sends an ISUP release message (REL) to release the trunk circuit between the switches. The STP routes the REL to the destination switch. If the called party hangs up first, or if the line is busy, the destination switch sends an REL to the originating switch indicating the release cause (e.g., normal release or busy). Upon receiving the REL, the destination switch disconnects the trunk from the called party's line, sets the trunk state to idle, and transmits an ISUP release complete message (RLC) to the originating switch to acknowledge the release of the remote end of the trunk circuit. When the originating switch receives (or generates) the RLC, it terminates the billing cycle and sets the trunk state to idle in preparation for the next call.