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!
The explosion in mobile data is transforming the way mobile network operators manage spectrum usage, traffic balancing, coverage, and network capacity issues.
Listening to all the hype about LTE, you would be forgiven for thinking that once LTE networks are rolled out they will sweep away everything that went before, and we will all benefit from continuous fast mobile data connections. In fact, by 2016 LTE will still only account for 10% of the world’s subscribers, and coverage will be far from ubiquitous.
During the LTE Masterclass at the LTE World Summit in Barcelona, Ajay Khanna, CTO and VP of Engineering, discussed the challenges of rolling out an efficient and profitable LTE network on top of the existing 2G /3G technologies and multiple vendor equipment deployments.