Everything Under the SON
Everything Under the SON
Opportunities and challenges for SON
04/25/2013 | 44 pages
Like most industry buzzwords, Self-optimizing Networks (SON) means different things to different people. Regardless of what technically classifies as SON, we firmly believe that SON will play an extremely critical role in the future evolution of wireless networks. In fact, we believe that LTE without SON would be no better than HSPA+ with SON from the perspective of CapEx and OpEx efficiency.
For this research project we examined all of the pertinent 3GPP specifications and read numerous engineering and marketing whitepapers. We also interviewed five major macro RAN + SON suppliers, countless SON-specific suppliers, unnamed operators, and individuals from the SEMAFOUR project.
In this issue of Signals Ahead, we examine all things under the SON. Topics discussed include the following:
- The Background. We examine the history of SON, dating back to the simultaneous work of 3GPP, the NGMN Alliance, and the SOCRATES/SEMAFOUR projects.
- The Basics. We present the laundry list of SON and SON-like features that are standardized within various 3GPP specifications, explain how they work, and what they mean for operators and vendors alike.
- The Present and Future Requirements. Although the NMGN and SOCRATES pretty much defined the SON requirements as they exists today, there is a slight disconnect between the requirements and the specifications. The future of SON, however, looks to be quite bright, thanks to the work taking place within the SEMAFOUR project which could spill into 3GPP Release 12 and beyond. We examine what might be in store.
- The Motivations and Challenges. Without question, the growing role of small cells is the single biggest motivator for SON since the vast number of deployed small cells will intensify the need for self-optimization/configuration/healing/interference management, etc. SON has its hurdles, however, including multi-vendor integration, vaguely-defined use cases, OSS limitations that curtail real-time adjustments with a centralized approach, very little focus on 2G/3G SON, and the likelihood that two discrete SON functions will provide conflicting optimization instructions without a centralized SON policy.
- The Opportunities and Realities. 3G SON wasn’t well-defined so it created opportunities for third-players, but with LTE there is a very close coupling with SON – suggesting that the macro RAN vendors have an advantage. One must also take into consideration the current maturity of today’s SON solutions, the likelihood for multi-vendor SON, the role of network managed services, the operator’s understanding of its network/needs, and the distribution of SON functions between a centralized, decentralized and hybrid SON architecture.