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SON: A Paradigm Shift in 4G Network Operations
Self-organizing networks (SON) are generating their fair share of hype in the mobile industry as key enabling technologies for the next generation in mobile networks and, in particular, for Long Term Evolution (LTE).

It is still early days for SON, although real and deliverable solutions are emerging. In reality, SON is a vast field of disparate technologies and features, some of which fit neatly into the evolutionary path followed by many 3G and prospective LTE operators, while others do not.

The SON vendor landscape may be roughly split into three sectors: Large network vendors pushing largely standards-based SON-type features, a few smaller vendors supporting proprietary solutions and, in some cases, software and IP for incorporation into OEM base station equipment, and vendors providing tools and services for network monitoring and optimization.

One of the difficulties with SON is defining exactly what technical network management functions fall into the category of SON, and what functions should be viewed as a part of the continued evolution of radio resource management that has been part and parcel of mobile networks since their inception in the 1980s. To make matters worse, some industry players are doubtless capitalizing on the SON hype to highlight systems and features that are likely more correctly categorized as advanced functions for radio resource management.

In the long term, if SON development proceeds as expected, network opex savings for mobile broadband operators may reach as much as 40 percent according to some sources. In the short to medium term, speculative calculations indicate that opex pressures may be relieved by 10 percent to 15 percent compared to the case without SON, while conservative estimates suggest that network capex could be reduced by a few percent. Capex reductions arise from reductions in network rollout costs. More complex business modeling if available may also reveal SON benefits from delays in investments into radio network capacity and reductions in churn.

SON: A Paradigm Shift in 4G Network Operations identifies and analyzes key issues driving the SON market. It discusses SON drivers, architecture debates, challenges, the marketplace, among other issues. Finally, the report profiles 10 leading SON vendors.

Sample research data from the report is shown in the excerpts below:
Table of Contents (4gltei0411_toc.pdf)
Current 3GPP standards for SON are a far cry from the very detailed standards and specifications pertaining to other parts of 3GPP LTE networks, including radio interfaces, radio resource management protocols, etc. But to be fair, the standardization work on SON is still in its infancy. The following excerpt shows the step-wise, conceptual framework for SON functions as viewed by the 3GPP standardization body. Available SON features fall mainly into self-configuration and self-optimization categories.
[click on the image above for the full excerpt]
Companies analyzed in this report include: Actix Ltd.; Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU); Airhop Communications Inc.; Eden Rock Communications LLC; Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC); Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.; Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT); NEC Corp.; Nokia Siemens Networks, a joint venture of Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) and Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE); and ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763).
Total pages: 25
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