There’s no doubt about it; as service providers move towards optimizing their networks through automation, the adoption of self-optimizing networks (SONs) is growing. The last year couple of years have seen double digit growth for the network optimization and SON software market, particularly for existing 3G networks.
Self-optimizing networks (SON) have the potential to massively improve the running of an operator’s network and business. It can dramatically cut OPEX and CAPEX associated with running a network and make life simpler for network managers and engineers. But before leaping into implementing SON, there are key considerations that mobile operators need to think through. Awareness of potential challenges can serve as a guide, helping to maximize the technology’s potential and prevent problems down the line.
This year marks the 30th anniversary when cinema goers were introduced to one of the most successful science fiction franchises of all time. In 1984 James Cameron launched the first Terminator film. As well as helping cement Arnold Schwarzenegger as one of Hollywood’s greatest action heroes, it also introduced the idea of an intelligent self-managing network. Skynet, was a fully automated system that did not require human management of its technology.
With the widespread introduction of self-optimizing network (SON) features within the radio access network (RAN), customer experience measurements are rapidly shifting toward the more relevant metric of active customer experience improvement.
Just over a decade ago, the idea of a self-optimizing network (SON) seemed far-fetched. But sometime during the mid-2000s, the idea of a smarter network that could identify and respond to issues automatically started to take shape.
With Mobile World Congress 2014 only a few weeks away, a new acronym is likely to be on the lips of infrastructure vendors and third-party software companies in Barcelona: SON.
SON, or self-optimizing networks, has become an important consideration for mobile operators because almost all the headaches that operators face, both from an investment and customer satisfaction perspective, relate to network performance.
Self-organizing networks (SON) address the challenges posed by increasingly complex mobile networks by automating the provisioning, configuration and reconfiguration of the radio access network (RAN) for optimal capacity and performance. The benefits are clear. Operators who have installed it have seen more than a 15 per cent improvement in capacity utilization and greater than 20 per cent improvement in the dropped call rate. However, like any powerful technology, it needs to be put in the right hands.
Almost since the first mobile network was installed, drive testing has been the main focus of network engineers who want to measure network performance and customer experience. Drive testing involves packing a vehicle with special optimization software, test devices and scanning equipment and then setting off for a drive around a targeted route.
Celcite started life as a services company, helping tier one mobile operators in the US with their resource needs. This experience on the front line of a mobile operator’s network operations gave Celcite invaluable insight into what keeps the network operations team awake at night. Networks were becoming increasingly complicated, evolving from being a one-technology one-vendor environment, to being multi-technology and multi-vendor battlefields.
The long-awaited, LTE-enabled iPhone 5 launched recently on most mobile operators’ networks worldwide, and has become the latest must-have device. Operators were hoping that their networks would be able to withstand the onslaught of data traffic driven by the iPhone 5 and other devices boasting similar LTE functionality. But it is wreaking havoc!