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Cellular Network Optimisation

- an overview or tutorial of the fundamentals of cellular network optimisation

One major requirement for any cellular network operator is to ensure that the network is operating to its maximum efficiency. As a result cellular network optimisation is a major feature of many modern cellular networks.

If a cellular network is not performing to its maximum this can directly result in poor performance: dropped calls, insufficient bandwidth causing phones to reduce the audio bandwidth, even barred access, or slow response times for data downloads. As a result, network performance and hence the service quality seen by users is a key differentiator. A good level of perceived quality will help retain users, whereas poor service will lead to high levels of churn for the cellular network operator.

In view of the huge amounts of investment that cellular operators require to set up their systems, it is necessary to ensure that they operate to their greatest efficiency. Optimisation might enable lower levels of infrastructure to be used. This could then reflect in a lower level of investment being required, and the resulting considerable cost savings being made. Additionally cellular network optimization can enable problems to be identified and the network to overcome the results while the problem is being fixed.

As a result, cellular network optimization tools are an essential requirement for any network these days. They enable a faster response to be gained for performance issues, a better service quality across the network, lower operating costs for the cellular network, and a much more efficient use of capital investment. Accordingly a number of network optimisation tools are available on the market, both from network vendors as well as from the independent suppliers.

Areas for cellular network optimization

There are many areas of cellular networks that can be optimised. Some cellular network optimisation schemes operate on elements of the network. Other schemes may adopt to optimise the cellular network as a whole. However for the sake of looking at cellular network optimization there are two main areas that can be considered:

  • Air interface
  • Core network

These element of the network may be optimised separately, or many newer networks are combining these functions to enable a far greater level of flexibility to be obtained in optimisation and "healing" when problems occur.

Self Optimising Networks

With network optimisation now playing a major element of many networks, a form of network optimisation known as Self-Optimising Networks (SON) is growing feature in network planning and optimisation. Standards bodies, equipment representatives and mobile operators are now working to set the standards for self optimizing networks.

Self optimizing networks, SON are seen as a key feature of the evolving cellular network architectures and as a result they are seen as a key feature in the next generation networks.

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