In mid-February Telus became the third player to enter the Canadian LTE market, following its rivals Rogers Wireless and Bell Canada. An international trend is emerging: as one carrier launches LTE, another regional rival follows suit. LTE is breaking new ground, but operators have little historical reference to measure how their new data-focused networks are performing. This blog describes how operators can ensure that costly and complicated LTE technology performs to its much-hyped potential.
An expensive business
The transformation to LTE networks involves a complete overhaul of mobile infrastructure. According to Infonetics research, network improvement outlay will top $250 billion over the next five years; while LTE spending alone will be 46% on a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) over the same period. The growth has prompted carriers to search for the most efficient and cost-effective ways to upgrade their networks to 4G.
LTE represents an enormous opportunity for operators to successfully, and profitably, deliver mobile broadband services. The technology needs continuous optimization to ensure it is operating at peak efficiency, however. In order for operators to ensure that they can refine their LTE proposition, they require reliable, and accurate, network visualization and optimization tools.
LTE networks: Visualizing the challenge
Effectively, international carriers to date have been operating ‘in the dark’ in terms of LTE. This is because there is limited background on optimizing wireless data networks of this scale. Network visualization solutions can help operators with this challenge, however.
Visualization tools enable operators to understand their LTE network performance. Operators can drill down to individual subscriber calls, messages, and data sessions, pinpointing good--and sometimes bad--data rates and evaluating the impact of devices on the network to assess if certain models are problematic. Network visualization tools can also identify infrastructure problems and suggest potential solutions. Changes such as antenna tilts and power changes can be made in the field and the results viewed by engineers in real time to understand whether the issue is resolved.
Network visualization applications also let operators deploy and run their networks more cost efficiently. Reliance on costly and time consuming drive testing can be reduced, for example. Drive testing involves a vehicle, equipped with network measurement kit, traversing a geographic area and recording performance data. Through the use of network visualization technology, an operator can skip this expensive and time-consuming effort, and use its own subscribers to provide network performance data.
The information from visualization tools in 3G networks can also be used for site candidate prioritization of an LTE overlay. Once an initial 4G network design is on air, the visualization application can identify areas where further capital investment is best spent. The visibility provided by the application also allows operators to "sweat the assets" of their existing 3G network.
As mobile data drives the growth of LTE, operators must use every advantage provided to them by the wireless vendor environment when deploying the 4G technology. Network visualization applications provide operators with a wealth of information from their existing subscribers that can be used to optimize and streamline their LTE networks in real time. Perhaps more importantly, such technology provides a window into an operator’s LTE network--a genuine understanding of the subscriber experience. The information provides operators with a foundation to construct, and manage, cost-efficient and profitable LTE networks.
About the author
Warren Dumanski is VP of sales and marketing at Newfield Wireless and has been working in the wireless technology sector since 1990. Newfield Wireless http://www.newfieldwireless.com/ has developed TrueCall, the real-time call network visualization application for LTE. Prior to his tenure at Newfield, Warren worked at NextG Networks, where he was responsible for sales to wireless service providers. Before his time with NextG, Warren was President of Celletra, a wireless technology start-up. Warren also ran worldwide sales for Spectrian. Warren received a B.A.Sc in Engineering from the University of Waterloo in Canada and an MBA from McMaster University in Canada.