By Beecher Tuttle
The widespread use of smartphones, tablet computers and other Web-enabled mobile devices has caused wireless data services to explode. While this is good news for application developers and mobile device manufacturers, it presents several challenges for service providers whose networks see more bandwidth-hungry traffic each day.
This concern is compounded by the fact that the increase in traffic is surpassing the growth rate for wireless revenue. To survive, service providers need to decrease their cost per bit while simultaneously optimizing their LTE network to handle more traffic....
As explained in a blog post by Alcatel-Lucent's Director for Wireless Chief Technology, Kamakshi Sridhar, these evolving market conditions have forced operators to manage overlapping 2G, 3G and 4G technologies as well as leverage the power of Wi-Fi access points, wireless femtocells and picocells to attain greater spatial reuse.
Sridhar believes that SON (Self Optimizing Network) and Alcatel-Lucent's Extended SON are critical for service providers that are looking to respond to these wireless trends and complete a network optimization strategy.
"Their self-configuration and self-optimizing features provide an essential means of reducing operational expenses (OPEX) as well as increasing network performance, to ensure the continuing viability of wireless networks," he wrote.
Sridhar explains that Alcatel's vision for Extended SON is not to replace or enhance SON – which is used to automate configuration, optimization and healing aspects in the RAN only – "but rather to extend the SON concepts into the core and across layers up to the application layer."
Extended SON optimizes the performance of end-to-end user flows by coupling together the RAN and the core. Extended SON optimizes network performance through feedback from the network itself, created from real-time and near-real-time data input sources.
Alcatel-Lucent is looking to leverage Extended SON to cover complete 3G and 4G networks. The telecom giant believes that the implementation of both SON and Extended SON will help service providers thrive in today's difficult market by reducing operating expenses, improving capacity and performance, and monetizing their underlying infrastructure.
Sridhar says that SON and Extended SON, when introduced in a phased manner along with considerable field verification, can help service providers address several challenges through the optimization of their LTE network. These include reducing time-consuming manual analysis and minimizing error-prone operations.
In addition, SON and Extended SON can improve the quality of experience (QoE) for the end user, minimize churn, enhance network quality and reliability, and decrease deployment and operating costs.
"Extended SON provides a range of options for the service provider, from generating additional revenue to the intelligent deprioritization of users when network congestion is present," says Sridhar.