The Future of RAN – How SON, 5G and the IoT are Impacting Network Investments Today
Below is an interview with Thomas Neubauer, Vice President of Business Development and lead for TEOCO’s RAN product portfolio. In this interview, Thomas shares his ideas about the future of radio networks and many of the challenges operators are dealing with today to prepare their networks for tomorrow.
Q: Thomas, what are some of the new challenges that operators are facing today in planning their radio networks?
Today’s key challenges relate to the fact that data volumes are growing exponentially, while at the same time the average revenue per user has remained more or less flat, and in some instances, it is even declining. This is a real challenge for the operator. They have to squeeze out more from their existing network assets, and they also have to be very careful with where and how they make additional CAPEX investments into their network.
At TEOCO we help solve both of these issues. With regards to extending network assets, we help service providers analyze and optimize their radio networks in various ways, including through spectrum re-farming, optimization of spectrum use, analyzing and optimizing the bottlenecks in the network. We also then automate all of these optimization processes to help reduce operational costs.
We also provide a full set of services and solutions that help operators to better plan and prioritize their next investments into the network. This is one of our particular strengths at TEOCO, because we don’t just look at operational data for planning the next network upgrade; we also look at the cost aspect. This allows our customers to maximize their return on investment for anything that comes in the future.
Q: How will the IoT and 5G impact future RAN planning and optimization requirements?
One of the key requirements for 5G is scalability. This means that we have to get a good broadband service from usave.co.uk broadband who can provide wireless access that spans the gamut- from massive data requirements to very low data requirements for services that come very infrequently. The latter is actually one of the key requirements for applications related to the Internet of Things. Coverage is critical for these applications, and speed and capacity are often compromised in order to achieve consistent coverage. From a planning and optimization perspective on the radio network, this means that we also need a lot more flexibility to address these future needs.
Also, we need to consider the different business cases that are arising from a new ecosystem of partners. Operators and CSPs have to consider not just the end user as their customer, but planning and optimization also becomes more important for third-party providers of services – particularly in the field of the Internet of Things.
Q: How do you see Self Organizing Networks (SON) changing the role of RAN planning and optimization?
This may surprise some people, but SON, or self-organizing networks, is already well established today. SON is really just about automating processes that have been done to a great extent manually in the past. For example, introducing an LTE small cell or base station into the network happens a lot faster and requires a lot less manual interaction than it did with UMTS about 10 years ago.
At TEOCO, we are addressing SON by providing software solutions that allow our customers to completely automate the process of radio optimization and network optimization. For example, we have SON solutions deployed in the field today where our software automatically identifies issues in the radio network, determines what is needed to fix them, and implements everything into the radio network without human interaction. As you can imagine, this helps to reduce operational costs significantly.
Q: What makes TEOCO’s offerings different in how they help operators?
At TEOCO, we provide a number of advantages. First of all, we have a global footprint with more than 15 locations around the world. This helps us to have a better understanding of the local requirements of our customers, which are actually quite a bit different.
Secondly, we have a complete solution set. In other words, we don’t just provide radio network knowledge, skill sets and software solutions; we also can analyze and understand valuable business information and how this impacts the bigger picture. This includes cost data and financial information that we bring together with network data. At the same time, on the radio side, we provide a full closed loop of services. We begin with planning and service assurance, where we focus on analysis and optimization, and then we fully automate the entire process. This means we look at operational data and analyze the trends we see from this data. Then we use it to plan for the next round of network infrastructure investments. As just one example, we might look at how traffic is growing and where, and based on this information, we can plan exactly where we should build out the next small cell. Then we go a step further and determine how this impacts the business case for backhaul availability and cost. This ‘closed-loop’ process helps ensure our customers are getting the best ROI on their investments.
For more information on TEOCO’s RAN planning and optimization solutions, click here.