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What happened to SON in LTE?


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I was reading this article in




When you start digging into LTE, you find it’s a pretty amazing technology – not just the speeds and feeds, but the way it was thought out from the bottom up. With technology migration always a painful problem for operators, LTE was designed to simplify deployment, maintenance and reduce operating costs with the concept of Self Organizing Networks (SONs) running over a flat IP infrastructure. Base stations are much more sophisticated than in 3G and other wireless models: they are responsible for managing their radios, optimizing service quality, discovering neighboring cells, and connecting themselves to the backhaul network.

But perhaps the most important change in LTE base stations (or “evolved Node Bs”as they are known), is their responsibility for managing the service itself. Where 2G and 3G networks rely on centralized radio network and base station controllers (RNC/BNC), LTE goes without: each tower communicates with its nearest peers to hand-off users as they roam from cell to cell. Both control plane (roaming and call control) and user data traffic pass directly between towers, connected in a mesh-style backhaul network. This distributed networking and intelligence can reduce latency and free core capacity by sending data directly to its destination without passing through a centralized aggregation point.




So what happened to the mesh nature of LTE networks now that they have to go through centralized switching architectures?

Edited by bigsnake49
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Oh, yeah, I forgot abt Masayoshi Son :P . Good one, AJ!


If this guy has a lot of money, Do you think he might just want to fix that tooth of his as he smiles, let alone build out a LTE network?

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If this guy has a lot of money, Do you think he might just want to fix that tooth of his as he smiles, let alone build out a LTE network?


Better to take a byte out of AT&T and Verizon.

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So what happened to the mesh nature of LTE networks now that they have to go through centralized switching architectures?


I am not an RF engineer (though I play one at S4GRU). But if I were an RF engineer, I would do anything that I could to downplay Self Organizing Networks because they have the potential to put me out of a job.


It is not far fetched to imagine base stations that could dynamically allocate carriers/subcarriers and coordinate power levels with no human intervention, just a little bit of assistance from GPS and "the cloud." Contractors could install a base station, plug it in, and after the base station self gathered some info about other base stations nearby, it would be ready to roll. Effectively, this is what the Airave/Airvana already do.


RF engineering would not be rendered obsolete. There still would be some RF planning and drive testing to do. But SON would reduce the need for RF engineering, could make cellular network construction far more "plug and play."



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