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RADIUS-Initiated Change of Authorization (CoA) Overview


The AAA Service Framework uses CoA messages to dynamically modify active subscriber sessions. For example, RADIUS attributes in CoA messages might instruct the framework to create, modify, or terminate a subscriber service. You can also use CoA messages to set or modify usage thresholds for current subscriber services.

CoA Messages

Dynamic request support enables the router to receive and process unsolicited CoA messages from external RADIUS servers. RADIUS-initiated CoA messages use the following codes in request and response messages:

  • CoA-Request (43)

  • CoA-ACK (44)

  • CoA-NAK (45)

Qualifications for Change of Authorization

To complete the change of authorization for a user, you specify identification attributes and session attributes. The identification attributes identify the subscriber. Session attributes specify the operation (activation or deactivation) to perform on the subscriber’s session and also include any client attributes for the session (for example, QoS attributes). The AAA Service Framework handles the actual request.

Table 1 shows the identification attributes for CoA operations.

Table 1: Identification Attributes



User-Name [RADIUS attribute 1]

Subscriber username.

Acct-Session-ID [RADIUS attribute 44]

Specific subscriber session.


Using the Acct-Session-ID attribute to identify the subscriber session is more explicit than using the User-Name attribute. When you use the User-Name as the identifier, the CoA operation is applied to the first session that was logged in with the specified username. However, because a subscriber might have multiple sessions associated with the same username, the first session might not be the correct session for the CoA operation.

When you use the Acct-Session-ID attribute, it identifies the specific subscriber session, avoiding that potential error. Although the Acct-Session-ID attribute can include an interface specifier in addition to the session ID—when the attribute is in the description format—only the session ID is used for subscriber matching. For example, if the subscriber has a subscriber session ID of 54785, then the subscriber is matched when the Acct-Session-ID attribute is 54785 (decimal format), or jnpr demux0.1073759682:54785 (description format), or indeed any value:54785 (description format).

Table 2 shows the session attributes for CoA operations. Any additional client attributes that you include depend on your particular session requirements.

Table 2: Session Attributes



Activate-Service [Juniper Networks VSA 26-65]

Service to activate for the subscriber.

Deactivate-Service [Juniper Networks VSA 26-66]

Service to deactivate for the subscriber.

Service-Volume [Juniper Networks VSA 26-67]

Amount of traffic, in MB, that can use the service; service is deactivated when the volume is exceeded.

Service-Timeout [Juniper Networks VSA 26-68]

Number of seconds that the service can be active; service is deactivated when the timeout expires.

Service-Volume-Gigawords [Juniper Networks VSA 26-179]

Amount of traffic, in 4GB units, that can use the service; service is deactivated when the volume is exceeded.

Update-Service [Juniper Networks VSA 26-180]

New values of service and time quotas for existing service.

Message Exchange

The RADIUS server and the AAA Service Framework on the router exchange messages using UDP. The CoA-Request message sent by the RADIUS server has the same format as the Disconnect-Request packet that is sent for a disconnect operation.

The response is either a CoA-ACK or a CoA-NAK message:

  • If the AAA Service Framework successfully changes the authorization, the response is a RADIUS-formatted packet with a CoA-ACK message, and the data filter is applied to the session.

  • If AAA Service Framework is unsuccessful, the request is malformed, or attributes are missing, the response is a RADIUS-formatted packet with a CoA-NAK message.


The AAA Service Framework processes one dynamic request at a time per subscriber. If the framework receives a second dynamic request (either another CoA or a Disconnect-Request) while processing a previous request for the same subscriber, the framework responds with a CoA-NAK message. Starting in Junos OS Release 15.1R5, CoA-Request retry messages are ignored and no CoA-NAK is sent in response to them.

Bulk CoA Transactions

Starting in Junos OS Release 17.2R1, bulk CoA requests are supported to improve the processing efficiency of RADIUS-based subscriber services on the BNG. The bulk CoA functionality enables the accumulation of a series of CoA requests and commits all of them together, in bulk, automatically.

Bulk CoA transactions are particularly valuable for business services. RADIUS-based subscriber services use the Juniper Networks VSAs, Activate-Service (26-65) and Deactivate-Service (26-66). The VSAs are provided in RADIUS-Accept messages during login or in CoA requests after login.

For conventional, dynamic service profile-based services, up to 12 service activations can easily fit within either RADIUS message. However, the op-script based services used by businesses typically have scaling requirements that exceed the capacity of either message. This means that specifying and activating all the services needed in a given subscriber session may require using an Accept-Access message and multiple CoA requests.

Each CoA request message is independent of previous and future CoA requests in the same subscriber session. All service-activations and deactivations in a message are processed before a CoA response is offered. The CoA request provides a way to incrementally modify a subscriber session without affecting existing services that are already present.

For op-script based services, the service sessions are collaboratively created by the authd and essmd processes such that the last operation initiates a commit to apply all resultant static business logical interfaces from the CoA request. Because the commit time is generally the largest part of applying a static business service, there is an advantage to packing as many service-activations or deactivations as will fit within a RADIUS message to efficiently use the commit window. Until the commit operation completes, the BNG cannot accept a subsequent CoA request to apply additional business services for the same subscriber session.

Bulk CoA improves the efficiency of commit processing by using a single commit action for all services in the bulk transaction. The bulk transaction has the effect of managing a series of requests as a single meta-request. It defers the commit processing until the final CoA request in the bulk transaction is received.

Bulk CoA requires each individual request to contain a single instance of the Juniper Networks Bulk-CoA-Transaction-Id VSA (26–194). This VSA identifies requests as belonging to the same bulk transaction; 26–194 must have the same value in all CoA requests in the bulk series. Each successive bulk transaction in the session must have a different identifier; for example, three successive bulk transactions can have IDs of 1, 2, and 1, but cannot have successive IDs of 1, 1, and 2. In practice, the Bulk-CoA-Transaction-Id value typically is incremented for multiple bulk transactions, but this is not required. An ID value used in a given subscriber session can also be used in different subscriber sessions.

Each CoA request within a bulk transaction has its own unique identifier, provided by a single instance of the Bulk-CoA-Identifier VSA (26–195) in each CoA. An increasing series of values for the ID is typical but not enforced. Values can be reused within a given session and between sessions. The final CoA request in the series is identified by having a value of 0xFFFFFFFF for the Bulk-CoA-Identifier.

Benefits of Radius-Initiated Change of Authorization

Enables changes in attribute values to be dynamically pushed to subscriber sessions, as well as dynamic activation and deactivation of subscriber services.

Release History Table
Starting in Junos OS Release 17.2R1, bulk CoA requests are supported to improve the processing efficiency of RADIUS-based subscriber services on the BNG.
Starting in Junos OS Release 15.1R5, CoA-Request retry messages are ignored and no CoA-NAK is sent in response to them.