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Grid-locked: How to optimise your network for LTE

Joe Lipscombe | May 23, 2013
Operators are at their wits' end in an attempt to provide their customers with the maximum network resources due to an unprecedented volume of data demand. Mobile apps such as instant messaging, video messaging, picture sharing, social media, and Web-based games are guzzling bandwidth, expanding the demand and adding weight to the operator's job.

Optimisation tips?
With this in mind, one of the key elements for operators will be nailing optimisation techniques. The experts have laid out the crucial points.

"While optimisation is an ongoing process, it should not be done in a reactive mode. There should be a continuous proactive optimisation process supported by tools. Service providers should avoid optimisation in silos as the subsystems are all interlinked. Instead, a holistic end-to-end network optimisation approach should be driven to avoid creating a new issue while fixing one. Having a controlled environment with the right processes and tools in place is critical," says Younes.

"An exhaustive network optimisation should be viewed as the mandatory step before the services go live and should be repeated periodically. The old focus on drive tests and dropped calls should be augmented to include extensive data download and response time for real-time applications. Network operators should view a 'self-healing network' as the future of network optimisation," adds Verma.

Younes Abad, Head of Mobile Broadband Network Performance, Ericsson MEA, says that the two most important ingredients that need to be present in order to deliver expected results to the users are tools and methodologies, and people.

"Some key elements of success for operators are the advanced and sophisticated tools that allow as much automation as possible—like self-organising networks (SON)," he says.

With the complexity of the smartphone environment, average KPIs do not reflect the user anymore. KPIs were traditionally developed for voice, where customer expectation is clearly defined and quite predictable.

"Smartphone users' expectations are much more complex to define and very hard to predict now. The way KPIs are defined and measured sometimes do not keep up with the changes brought by smartphones. For example, KPIs are still network-centric instead of user-centric, and are domain-centric instead of end-to-end," Abad adds.

On the people front, he says that with the fast change in technology, it is important to continuously invest in competence to make sure resources are up to date. Incentives should be tailored in a way that encourages actions geared towards improving end-user experience instead of merely improving network KPIs.

The new customer demand
Above all, it's the influx of mobile applications and the availability to work extensively on a mobile platform which has changed the way a customer works and lives. As a result, the demands on operators and bandwidth providers have been completely intensified. Not half a decade ago, operators would not have predicted this paradigm shift into the mobile world—a world which is only growing as we speak. The demands will also continue to grow.

"The explosive growth of connected broadband, wireless devices and its usage have created a new bandwidth-demanding customer. Specific to the region where adoption of the latest gadgets is very quick, MNOs have been led to look for the best way to fine tune the network according to changing requirements," says Verma.


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