LTE SON Self Organizing Networks

- LTE, Long Term Evolution and the requirements for LTE SON, Self Organising Networks

With LTE requiring smaller cell sizes to enable the much greater levels of data traffic to be handled, there networks have become considerably more complicated and trying to plan and manage the network centrally is not as viable. Coupled with the need to reduce costs by reducing manual input, there has been a growing impetus to implement self organising networks.

Accordingly LTE can be seen as one of the major drivers behind the self-organising network, SON philosophy.

Accordingly 3GPP developed many of the requirements for LTE SON to sit alongside the basic functionality of LTE. As a result the standards for LTE SON are embedded within the 3GPP standards.

LTE SON development

The term SON came into frequent use after the term was adopted by the Next Generation Mobile Networks, NGMN alliance. The idea came about as result of the need within LTE to be able to deploy many more cells. Femtocells and other microcells are an integral part of the LTE deployment strategy. With revenue per bit falling, costs for deployment must be kept to a minimum as well as ensuring the network is operating to its greatest efficiency.

3GPP, the Third Generation Partnership Programme has created the standards for SON and as they are generally first to be deployed with LTE, they are often referred to as LTE SON.

While 3GPP has generated the standards, they have been based upon long term objectives for a 'SON-enabled broadband mobile network' set out by the NGMN.

NGMN has defined the necessary use cases, measurements, procedures and open interfaces to ensure that multivendor offerings are available. 3GPP has incorporated these aspirations into useable standards.

Major elements of LTE SON

Although LTE SON self-optimising networks is one of the major drivers for the generic SON technology, the basic requirements remain the same whatever the technology to which it will be applied.

The main elements of SON include:

  • Self configuration:   The aim for the self configuration aspects of LTE SON is to enable new base stations to become essentially "Plug and Play" items. They should need as little manual intervention in the configuration process as possible. Not only will they be able to organise the RF aspects, but also configure the backhaul as well.
  • Self optimisation:   Once the system has been set up, LTE SON capabilities will enable the base station to optimise the operational characteristics to best meet the needs of the overall network.
  • Self-healing:   Another major feature of LTE SON is to enable the network to self-heal. It will do this by changing the characteristics of the network to mask the problem until it is fixed. For example, the boundaries of adjacent cells can be increased by changing antenna directions and increasing power levels, etc..

Typically an LTE SON system is a software package with relevant options that is incorporated into an operator's network.

Note on SON, Self Organizing Networks:

SON mainly came out of the requirements of LTE and the more complicated networks that will arise. However the concepts behind SON can be applied at any network enabling its efficiency to be increased while keeping costs low. Accordingly, it is being used increasingly to reduce operational and capital expenditure by adding software to the network to enable it to organise and run itself.

Click on the link for further information about Self Organising Networks, SON

LTE SON and 3GPP standards

LTE Son has been standardised in the various 3GPP standards. It was first incorporated into 3GPP release 8, and further functionality has been progressively added in the further releases of the standards.

One of the major aims of the 3GPP standardization is the support of SON features is to ensure that multi-vendor network environments operate correctly with LTE SON. As a result, 3GPP has defined a set of LTE SON use cases and the associated SON functions.

As the functionality of LTE advances, the LTE SON standardisation effectively track the LTE network evolution stages. In this way SON will be applicable to the LTE networks.

By Ian Poole

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