Self-Organizing Networks in 5G
Mobile network operators are looking for more automation in order to efficiently manage their large networks, which consist of thousands of base stations with hundreds of settings each. The role of Self-organizing Networks (SON) is to enable efficient, and in some cases programmatic means of fine tuning cellular networks.
SON can fix fundamental problems (i.e. the tire is out of alignment analogy), such as poor coverage and/or dropped calls in an area and it can also be used for short-term, real-time issues (and then potentially be put back the way the network was in the first place. For example, the network may need optimization locally for a specific event such as a sporting event or live show/concert. In all cases, SON is designed to support wireless carriers desire to provide a multitude of different services with high quality of experience for the end-user.
Within the next few years, we estimate that approximately 80-85% of global providers focus on SON only in the 4G portion of their networks today. This is because they want to first optimize what is stable and most of the network, while they work out other issues on 5G. The ultimate implementation of SON on combined LTE and 5G networks will bring many advantages. For example, LTE has something called “Reserved Quality” as a means of managing Quality of Service (QoS) and Quality of Experience (QoE). This represents a benefit of SON on LTE in terms of optimizing network to support the QoS/QoE metrics. Leading vendors, such as Amdocs (who acquired Celcite) recognize this and are building solutions for improving customer experience.