Cellular networks have grown exponentially over the past years, and future growth is equally promising. Not only has this been a growth in scale and subscriber numbers, but also a rapid evolution in the technology itself. Modern cellular networks incorporate multiple radio access technologies (MultiRAT) and combine macro, micro and pico cells (Hetnet) to offer a flexible, adaptive solution to the ever-expanding needs of the consumer. These co-existing but different technologies have contributed to the growth of wireless networks, but have also made them more complicated to configure, organize and optimize. Research has shown that OPEX costs account for almost 30% of total expenses associated with a network. Therefore, in order to deliver new services and invest in networks that improve subscriber experience, it is important for operators to reduce their operational costs.
HSC started its initiative in SON (self organizing/optimizing networks) while the specifications were still in their early phases. 3GPP has made significant push in LTE standards to make them more self-manageable and to increase level of automation in operation and maintenance of LTE nodes. Some of the SON areas that HSC has been focused on are:
HSC has been working in the SON space both as an independent research initiative, as well as for our customers.
HSC has leveraged its extensive OSS, EMS and embedded software development experience in implementing Central SON solutions. The next phase of self organizing network technology is gradually embracing a distributed approach to mitigate the risk of depending on a single entity for decision making.
HSC has worked on implementing distributed algorithms in which each node contributes to converging a network to a steady state.
HSC believes that distributed SON is the key to widespread deployment of self optimizing networks, as it pushes SON functionality as far to the edge of the network as possible while reducing single points of failure. A distributed solution offers ease of deployment, robustness to network outage and the ability to react rapidly to local and global events. HSC’s distributed SON solutions have been demonstrated for enterprise WiFi networks and are currently being developed for LTE small cells as well.
An exciting new area for self optimizing network technology is the ability to use the cloud to deploy a distributed SON solution. This kind of topology is in between the classic centralized solution and the fully distributed approach. Using the cloud makes it possible to deploy resources locally while maintaining a unified control and management interface.
One of the challenges in cloud SON is the communication mechanism between the network nodes and the SON server in a secure, scalable and flexible format. The communication needs to be able to handle disparate functions such as event reporting and firmware upgrades. HSC has worked with our customers to design the cloud SON network topology and validate the operation of different SON functions.
Energy efficiency in SON is of increasing interest, especially in the enterprise. In the context of a wireless network, this refers to the ability of the network as a whole to respond to reduced load by selectively switching off network nodes, without compromising coverage. HSC is working in the area of energy efficient enterprise wireless networks based around our distributed self organizing network solution.
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