The 5th generation of networks is going to be built around the seamless integration of multiple different types of radio technologies; LTE, LTE-U, WLAN. Operators want to deploy a combination of different network infrastructure and then use the most appropriate among what is available to provide the user the services she needs. A current example is the ability to move the user between standard cellular and VoWifi, already being deployed in many countries. There will also be a great deal of heterogeneity when it comes to network nodes; macro base-stations, cloud RAN infrastructure, WLAN outdoor units, and small cells will all need to reside together. While the operator will not want to be involved in device management and maintenance, he will be interested in controlling customer level issues including network discovery, service provisioning, and end-to-end customer service monitoring.
Figure 1 Enhanced Hetnet Optimization Service
The eHOP platform, at its very lowest level, manages dynamic information about network nodes in a HetNet. The network nodes may be built around different technologies and standards; the eHOP offers a simple Web-based API which can be used by any network node to advertise its location, status, and other parameters. Based on this information, the eHOP uses a proprietary algorithm to organize network nodes in terms of location, load, security level and other features. This is supplemented with a simple API which allows applications to query the dB about the network services available at different locations with specific service level parameters. For example, there is a query to determine the optimal node for a user at location X, requiring service Y, with security association Z with organization P. The eHOP dB will then return a list of network nodes matching the above requirements which can then be further refined by the top-level application.
On top of the Network Node Information layer, various applications can be built using a simple set of REST-based APIs. The purpose of the eHOP is to allow easy development of remote applications (like, say, Google Maps) in a virtualized or cloud-based environment. HSC is in the process of developing a basic set of fundamental applications – it is our belief, however, that network operators will choose to define and build their own applications customized for their specific environments and user requirements.
The OND application can be used to implement a location broker between diverse network nodes on the one hand and users on the other. For users, it offers multiple interfaces (XML over SOAP, REST based, ANQP for WLAN) by which the UE can declare its current location and other parameters and ask for the optimal network point to attach to. It responds to the query with a set of network nodes, along with a description of each of the nodes in terms of estimated signal strength, node acquisition parameters, radio technology specific parameters and services. The description uses a 3gPP standardized XML format.
This application is based on earlier work done by HSC regarding power control of enterprise networks for optimal power management. The Dynamic Energy Management app (expected to be completed around 2017) looks at energy hot-spots in the network; regions with unutilized or excess coverage or high interference cases. The app considers a mix of network node reported information and user demand to identify hot-spots in the network and provide feedback to external applications. This information can then be used by external SON applications to reduce power and aid in ‘greening’ the network.
The eHOS allows direct integration with user management functions, such as Hotspot 2.0 based user and device authentication, admission control, mobility monitoring, etc.
HetNet management for 4th and 5th generation wireless networks will require a different approach to service provisioning and discovery. The eHOP is HSC’s product offering, targeting an operator-centric view of the network and enabling integrated service visibility across a gamut of networks.