4G Network Profitability May Depend on SON Development
Self-organizing network (SON) technology is emerging as a critical enabler for effective deployment of 4G mobile networks, potentially offering up to 40 percent opex savings for mobile broadband operators and making a much stronger case for long-term 4G service profitability, according to the latest report from the Heavy Reading 4G/LTE Insider.
"SON is generating hype as a key enabling technology for the next generation of mobile networks and, in particular, for LTE," says Claus Hetting, research analyst with Heavy Reading 4G/LTE Insider and author of the report. "As mobile network complexity increases, SON simplifies everything from network deployment to the complex processes of network planning, optimization and maintenance, enabling operators to cut back on capex and opex."
SON is expected to be critical for the success of LTE, Hetting says. "In the long term, if SON development proceeds as expected, network opex savings for mobile broadband operators may reach as much as 40 percent," he says. "Capex reductions arise from reductions in network rollout costs. More complex business modeling may also reveal SON benefits from delays in investments into radio network capacity and reductions in churn."
Key findings include:
- SON is driven by fierce pressure on operators to reduce opex in the face of growing network complexity.
- Many believe using SON is necessary for LTE femtocell/picocell and multi-standard network deployment.
- SON enables mobile broadband operators to self-configure, self-optimize and self-heal LTE networks.
- SON faces significant challenges in interoperability, standardization, and use case complexity.
- Major LTE radio network vendors are in control of the SON marketplace.
- SON could reduce network opex for mobile broadband operators by as much as 40 percent in the long term.
- All major infrastructure network vendors offer plug-and-play SON features for faster LTE deployment and automatic neighbor relations for initial planning.