3 perspectives on 5G SON (self-organizing networks)
Tech leaders agree self-organizing network technology will be key to managing complexity of next generation 5G mobile networks
“5G” technology is envisioned as a network of networks, blending different types of access technologies to create a seamless user experience marked by incredibly high throughput and ultra-low latency delivered to a massive number of consumer devices and intelligent machines.
Futuristic use cases like autonomous driving and the tactile Internet, along with more traditional voice and data applications, will force a fundamental change in the way networks are managed, bringing automation and dynamic, predictive resource allocation to the forefront. Self-organizing network technology is expected to play a pivotal role according to several key telecom ecosystem players. Let’s take a closer look at 5G SON.
Ericsson, in a white paper discussing the vision for 5G, said the flexibility of 5G would require “management overhead – as a result of network complexity.” That’s where 5G SON comes into play.
“Finding faults, for example, may take time and require manual intervention in legacy systems,” Ericsson noted. “For 5G base stations, this will not be the case; self-healing applications will detect anomalies and try to repair any issues without impacting network reliability. The self-organizing networks concept as it is today, which basically allows base stations to automatically configure themselves including automatic neighbor relations, will be much further developed in 5G systems. Advanced SON techniques will not only apply to physical network elements, but will enable operators to, for example, balance load in a multi-radio-access technology environment and support traffic steering as well as dynamic spectrum allocation.”
Paul Gowans, wireless strategy director for Viavi Solutions, said 5G SON techniques will be a necessary network management tool and also crucial to service provider return on investment as it relates to network functions virtualization and software-defined networking deployments.
“Self-organizing networks are essentially the key to a connected future,” Gowans said. “By automating configuration, optimization and healing of the network, this frees up operational resources to focus on what’s truly important – better quality of experience and aligning revenue to network optimization. And, with the number of connected ‘things’ positively exploding, managing and keeping up with the sheer number of devices requires an automated approach that also yields a new set of network-assurance challenges operators will have to deal with in 2016.”
Gowans said predictive analytics help operators get a new level of insight into the network and how it is being used.
“The network will become more sporadic and this will manifest in several forms: time, subscriber, location and application,” Gowan explained. “For example, take subscriber and location: a recent Viavi Solutions customer study found just 1% of users consume more than half of all data on a network. The study also found 50% of all data is consumed in less than 0.35% of the network area. To achieve significant performance gains via SON, operators can apply predictive approaches using analytics that reveal exactly which users are consuming how much bandwidth – and where they are located. This level of foresight is key to not only unlocking the full potential of SON in the RAN, but also to maximizing ROI for software-defined networking and NFV in the core.”
In a white paper discussing 5G, Huawei noted the importance of SON to streamlined radio deployments as well as spectral allocation.
“New breakthroughs in the integrated access node and backhaul design are required to enable the very dense networking of radio nodes,” the vendor said. “Plug-and-play will become essential to deployment where such nodes will need to access and self-organize available spectrum blocks for both access and backhauling. This capability will be key for enabling high-frequency spectrum radio access.”