SON - Self-Organizing Networks

Self-organizing networks (SON) are the attempt to simplify and speed up the planning, configuration, management, optimization and healing of mobile communications networks. LTE and LTE-Advanced-based networks are the first cellular technologies that will take advantage of this enhancement. SON is embedded in different architectures including distributed, centralized and hybrid, and is subdivided into three functional categories: self-configuration, self-optimization and self-healing.

Ideally a base station or cell that is to be added to an existing network deployment should configure itself, following a “plug & play” principle (self-configuration). Parameters usually configured manually by the network operator should be set automatically based on the measured radio conditions. Moreover, already deployed base stations should optimize themselves by adapting parameters in response to their network load and performance as well as based on measured and reported radio conditions (self-optimization). The self-healing function aims to overcome temporary bottlenecks in system capacity, such as an equipment outage.

One of the first standardized SON features, related to the “self-configuration” category, is automatic neighbor relation (ANR). ANR significantly reduces the time required to set up a base station by automatically managing neighbor cell relations, thus replacing time-consuming manual setup. ANR relies on the mobile terminal’s capability to report cells that it has detected but that are not part of the neighbor list broadcasted by the LTE network. This device capability requires intensive testing due to the fact that today’s service providers operate their LTE networks on different frequency bands, typically a combination of high and low bands, which may overlap and create different neighbor cell scenarios. Furthermore, the anticipated massive deployment of small(er) cells, such as femtocells or picocells, as part of moving towards a heterogeneous network (HetNet) deployment strategy will push the ANR functionality, because the manual management of neighbor relations between cells will become even more challenging if not impossible.

Resources for SON – Self-Organizing Networks

Products for SON – Self-Organizing Networks

  • R&S®CMW Platform
    • CMWcards, a graphical test script tool, remarkably eases test script creation
    • Hopscotch wizard and clear “playing card rules”
    • Test script creation, parameterization, execution and analysis in a single tool
    • Inter-RAT procedures for LTE, WCDMA, GSM and CDMA®2000®
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