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3G Americas Publishes Report on LTE SON Self-Optimizing / Self-Organizing Networks to Improve Network Management

12/22/09 - 3G Americas announced that it has published an educational report titled, "The Benefits of SON in LTE" , to increase understanding of the improvements in network management that have been developed through 3GPP standards -- Release 8, Release 9 and beyond.

Self-Optimizing and Self-Organizing Networks, called SON, can significantly improve network management performance, helping operators and their customers. The 3GPP standards organization is standardizing self-optimizing and self-organizing capabilities for LTE. LTE SON will leverage network intelligence, automation and network management features in order to automate the configuration and optimization of wireless networks, thereby increasing efficiency as well as improving network performance and flexibility.

"The time is right for SON as wireless carriers' networks have increasing mobile broadband demand and a high level of complexity," said Chris Pearson, President of 3G Americas. "The good news is that smartphones, netbooks and emerging classes of mobile devices are driving significant growth of wireless data usage. However, operators will need to continue to significantly improve network management capabilities to efficiently meet the demands of this new mobile broadband world."

"The Benefits of SON in LTE" describes the motivation behind SON and provides an overview of key SON features contained in Releases 8 and 9 that will serve as a solution for network operators. Motivations for operators to deploy SON include:

  • Wireless service providers must now support a growing number of higher- bandwidth data applications and services on their networks
  • Operators must drive down the delivery cost per bit
  • Radio access network complexity will increase through additions of small cells such as femtocells, picocells as well as WiFi access points to increase and improve coverage and capacity

These and other trends portend ever-increasing demands upon service providers in the areas of network performance and operations.

Initial solutions are offered in the 3GPP Release 8 specifications, which were completed in March 2009, and include SON features such as automatic inventory, software download, neighbor relations and PCI assignment that would be built over 3GPP network management architecture. LTE SON features begin with 3GPP Release 8 and evolve with the expected LTE network evolution stages. In 3GPP Release 9, other SON features are addressed, such as the optimization of coverage and capacity, mobility, RACH, load balancing and support of SON features in multi-vendor network environments.

Other organizations such as the Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) have contributed significantly to the development and standardization of SON at 3GPP.

"Self-optimizing networks are a key part in the future-proofing of network reliability and operational efficiency," said Dr. Peter Meissner, Operating Officer of the NGMN Alliance. "NGMN established a set of initial requirements and since then has worked with its partners to define the remaining requirements and to drive forward the early adoption in the standardization."

Previous 3G Americas white papers and technical studies have shown that LTE -- with its wideband, highly spectrally efficient, low latency and cost-effective technology -- is ideally suited to serving new higher-bandwidth applications. LTE is the next-generation wireless technology adopted by leading GSM and CDMA operators worldwide.

"SON is supported by a host of global organizations as well as leading vendors and operators, and will be an essential and well-developed solution for the successful management of wireless networks in our future," Pearson said.

The white paper, "The Benefits of SON in LTE" , was written collaboratively by members of 3G Americas and is available for free download on the 3G Americas website at www.3gamericas.org . The recommendations on SON, in the document, "NGMN Recommendation on SON and O&M Requirements," are available for free download on the NGMN website at www.ngmn.org .

By Robert Hoskins

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