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Can wireless networks cope with exceptional traffic loads?

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Network traffic profiles have been turned upside down by the current COVID-19 crisis and associated lockdowns. We have seen increased data traffic from homes, higher voice erlangs and unfortunately, also reduced operator staff for field work. This impacts radio network management and optimization processes in an overwhelming manner, especially at a time when people rely on good network quality and its availability 24x7.

Three questions that operators commonly ask me during these troubled times are:

  • How can I ensure seamless connectivity that continues to meet my subscribers’ needs?
  • How can I ensure my network copes with unprecedented loads and changing traffic patterns to keep pace with subscriber needs?
  • How can I ensure my network is running at its optimum and that costs are kept under control?

Amongst several steps, a key to achieving the above objectives is to have a reliable, closed loop automation system that keeps wireless networks optimized for each changing network condition. Here is where Self-Organizing Networks (SON) helps. Already implemented in more than 120 radio networks, Nokia’s truly multi-vendor, multi-technology EdenNet SON can help operators answer the questions they are asking today.

Ensuring seamless connectivity requires the detection of areas with insufficient coverage or capacity and then automatically adjust antenna tilt and power for optimal performance. Nokia SON solution capabilities in this domain has been shown to reduce manual operational effort by 90%, improve throughput and cut call drop rates by 30%.

To help the network cope with exceptional loads, it is important to instantly detect cell outages caused by traffic overloads and then adjust surrounding cells to compensate for the lost coverage and continue to optimally use available network capacity to serve subscribers. Besides, SON offers capabilities to continuously monitor the network and detect cells performing sub-optimally. This “sleeping cell” behavior can happen surprisingly often when loading patterns change in the network. EdenNet can automatically reset the cell intelligently without manual intervention to improve network reliability.

When it comes to ensuring costs are controlled, it is important to optimize the energy consumption by the networks. EdenNet’s Energy Saving Management capability monitors cell loads and can switch off low-traffic cells in areas such as business districts that have gone quiet during lockdown without impacting network accessibility. The feature will bring cells back to life automatically when needed. Not only is energy saved, but there is less radio interference, resulting in improved throughput for users. 

Operators with Nokia EdenNet SON already implemented in their networks can access these capabilities simply through software upgrades.

Be ready for any situation

Nobody knows how long the current healthcare crisis will last. Even when lockdowns are eased it will take a long time for people to return to offices. Most likely, work patterns have changed forever with organizations looking to run hybrid office environments with a mix of personnel working from home and at the office. Whatever happens, the impact on mobile networks will be sustained and operators will need to react to changing traffic profiles.

Implementing SON with its multitude of automated use cases, therefore makes sense for the long term, helping operators to be ready should COVID-19 infections rise again, or for future unpredictable situations. Nokia EdenNet SON supports multivendor mobile networks, regardless of supplier, and works with any radio access technology including 5G.

Furthermore, the solution is built on an open platform using Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that enable adaptation of SON capability to meet individual operator needs, ensuring timely availability of solutions when needed to meet network demands.

With 5G coming on stream, the complexities of network planning and optimization are becoming unmanageable through traditional manual means. Applying advanced automation is inevitable, but COVID-19 has made the need more urgent.

Share your thoughts on this topic by joining the Twitter discussion with @nokia or @nokianetworks using #5G #machinelearning #automation #SON 

Yatin Dharamshi

About Yatin Dharamshi

Yatin Dharamshi is Head of SON Products domain at Nokia Software overseeing its strategic evolution to meet the growing automation needs for network operations and optimization. In his spare time, Yatin is an avid field-hockey player and cyclist. He relishes being part of a large joint-family that is home to four generations.

Tweet me at @6dustypages

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