Network evolution demands SON revolution
25 February 2013, Mobile World Congress, Spain –With “customer experience” replacing “OPEX savings” as the primary concern of many mobile operators, the issue of Self-Optimising Networks (SON) is in vogue once again. SON – the ability to automate network architecture planning and management – is expected to radically improve customer experience, whilst reducing OPEX. However, Arieso has found that the network complexity causing customer experience problems is also frustrating operator attempts to implement SON. Arieso believes the benefits of SON will only be realised by operators who take a multi-layer, multi-vendor and location aware approach. Today, most SON solutions are based on network-centric metrics measured at cell level rather than the actual experience of the customer, and their locations.
In order to effectively inform SON implementation, operators must take a more customer-centric view of their networks. As subscribers move about, whether they know it or not, their devices see and use an array of radio access technology layers from a range of access points, manufactured by dozens of different companies.
“In a typical one square kilometre, semi-urban environment – an average European market town – there is a LOT of telecoms infrastructure for subscriber devices to interact with,” said Shirin Dehghan, CEO, Arieso. “Despite all the hyperbole, there is no such thing as an ‘LTE subscriber’. There are only subscribers bouncing between different technologies and infrastructure vendors.”
“We recently found 15 GSM macro cells, seven UMTS macro cells, three LTE macro cells, three UMTS small cells and in excess of 20 WiFi access points provided by six different network equipment vendors in a one square kilometre semi-urban environment. Any attempt to implement SON without taking all of those customer-centric complexities into consideration is flawed,” continued Dehghan. “Single-layer SON approaches without the intelligence of location are, at best, short-term. At worst, they are solving the wrong problem.”
In May 2012, Arieso announced that its intelligent, location aware solution, ariesoGEO, now supports GSM, UMTS and LTE technologies within a single platform. Arieso is currently adding further capability to support small cell, femto cell and WiFi platforms. This kind of agnostic, pan-dimensional level of insight and intelligence is essential if Self-Optimising Networks are to become a reality.
“Guaranteeing a positive customer experience is the biggest challenge for operators seeking to reduce churn and engage with revenue-generating users. SON solutions need to utilise the experience of every single customer in the locations they use their services. This gives operators the ability to set customer-centric policies - from focusing network resources on their most valuable customers, to “anti-SON” for those subscribers that operators would rather churn from their networks. Processing every mobile connection for every subscriber across every device requires significant scalability and the ability to geo-locate billions of connections every day,” concluded Dehghan. “With the unending evolution of network technologies, operators introducing SON need to think in more radical terms. They need to wrap SON around their entire customer-facing network, not just one or two layers. That’s the way to solve the customer experience puzzle.”