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Self Organizing Networks Driving down HetNet cost

As technology continues to advance, Self organizing networks drive down mobile Hetnets cost.  Known as SON, it has promise for the large cellular carriers that run LTE but additionally for smaller networks running on Wi-Fi and femtocells.  The goal of all carriers is to lower their overall operating costs and increase cost effectiveness.  Should SON use HetNet (heterogeneous networks), there are some advantages and disadvantages.  This article will look at each side.

Self Organizing Networks Advantages

 

The innate autonomous SON can function without users.  This means base stations and access points are configured and optimized automatically.  Macrocells still require technical interface, but the advent of self organizing networks within combination of small-cell technology meant a powerful shift in resource management – there was no reason to send a technician to each new small cell in a selected market area.

Ultimately, and the technology is still in its infancy if not even created, is to have the Self organizing networks implemented in the RAN.  The autonomous nature of SON means no human intervention for organizing and optimizing.  All a carrier would need is to create the cell site. The SON would handle all the RF frequencies and their channels, determine power levels, lists of neighboring elements and the other necessary configurations which historically required input.

In a sample case: a cell site within a SON-capable network goes down in an act of nature or accident.  The sites around the downed cell immediately and automatically organize themselves to provide coverage for the affected area. This gives carriers time to make logistical decisions or wait until normal working hours to dispatch technician for repairs. Clearly, the self-operating and repairing functions of the self organizing network have clear profitability for carriers.  This includes the larger service carriers and smaller ones who depend on communication besides LTE.

 

Self organizing Network Disadvantages

 

While the innate abilities of the self organizing networks to make the necessary reconfigurations to neighboring cells, the surrounding network within the down cell’s immediate area may prove difficult because of the SON’s sensing abilities.  There are two potential scenarios: a SON-capable base station passively finds and configures, or the information can come from queries around neighboring stations.

self-organizing-networks-for-HetNet

Here is the fundamental issue.  Base stations are uplink only; they receive transmissions from the carriers to the network, but stations additionally must be able to receive downlink signals for levels and neighboring parameters.

This means SON-capable stations must be frequency-agile for both links.

Receivers, set only for dedicated downlink and time-division-duplexed, TDD, systems, mean a SON-capable station will require time when it can receive downlink transmissions, a situation that can lead to unintended additional downtime during the process.

The disadvantages are not as harsh as they may seem.  So long as the SON is a part of a HETNET, the cost can be kept to a minimal amount.  Here is how. The HETNET is a web of base stations and wireless, up to and including macro stations, small cells, the preferred element of SON, and Wi-Fi.  The largest cellular carriers use HETNET in large, metropolitan areas (think New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, etc.) because of the user saturation macro base stations are grossly ineffective.

However, the needs of the many mean all markets, even smaller, rural ones, will eventually have a need for HETNET.  This means all the intricacies become of critical need for carriers in all wireless markets and mobile networks.

This is where self organizing networks is so important.  It is one technology that will meld the small and macrocells while providing a superior user experience for the carriers and their customers.  Expect the SON to evolve dramatically in the coming years. Some major U.S. carriers have plans to expand from 100,000 active sites to over 500,000.  This massive growth will require SON with the HETNET.

Initial upfront costs are a concern for some smaller carriers, but the long-term savings on technicians more than offsets the initial investment.  It should go without saying the profit margins will take a dip on the front end but will rapidly recover as self organizing networks saturation increases.  Success will depend on all the previous factors and full implementation with proper logistical planning.

Based on this, what is your opinion?  Is the potential upfront cost and dip in profits advantageous in the overall scope of the business or is the on-call skilled technician a safer and more dependable alternative?  Certain factors certainly must be considered on both, but exactly what are those factors outside of forces of nature?  Feel free to provide your personal thoughts on this.

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Aerospace - Aviation Articles

IFEC Profit Margins Wireless Connectivity for Airlines

IFEC profit margins for business jets and commercial airlines is of  vital importance.  In the not too distant past, airlines depended on essentially the same technology for IFEC, aka In-Flight Entertainment Connectivity, as in most any movie theater.

A film was shot directly onto a screen using a projector, and customers could listen to the film via proprietary headsets or listen through in-cabin speakers.  For many passengers, this was not an ideal situation.

This has changed and changed drastically in a very positive way for all parties involved.  The main reason for going to this new system is the same as any reason a business makes changes – to increase IFEC profit margins and satisfy shareholders.  It all comes down to weight on the plane.  Weight is a major issue on flights.  Some airlines have removed the seat back screens from their airlines, cutting weight by 1,200 lbs.  A lighter plane means less fuel; less fuel means a better profit.

People have not seemed to mind this change for IFEC.  The main reason is the advent of newer and newer technologies as gone are the bulky, heavy laptops of old (remember that weight issue) requiring lots of storage space.  Touchpads, smartphones, and the like have changed computing in a way like Bill Gates did with Windows 3.1.  Research already points to handheld devices reaching over 2 billion this year based on previous information from 2014.

Weight is Equal to IFEC Profit Margins

 

This is a welcome change for airlines, where again, weight is equal to profits.  IFEC has certainly gone through its own growing pains from silent films to bulky 8mm, grainy machines to DVD’s and projectors.  Along the way, passengers have been kept happy, entertained, and not as concerned about long delays, waits and unforeseen circumstances that kept a plane grounded for an indeterminate amount of time.

IFEC profit marginsJump forward several years, and now we have streaming video, movies and more coming in over wireless and data from cellular providers.  For the airline industry, this is an absolute goldmine in IFEC profit margins.  

Gone will be the days of the same film showing for all passengers, young and old.  Finding a movie suitable to keep all passengers entertained for a flight can be virtually impossible.

Instead, passengers will be able to use personal devices to log into the plane’s on-board wi-fi system.  

Watching personal devices for Netflix, Hulu and YouTube is obviously a preferred method of IFEC over a single, one-size-must-fit-all movie.

 

 

Power of Choice will Increase IFEC Profit Margins

 

A customer, or in this case a passenger, who has some degree of choice in a situation is likely to be much happier and willing to accept certain situations and possible additional fees for the trade-off of continued in-flight entertainment.  Families traveling with young children certainly understand the value and power of a portable DVD or gaming system to entertain, and adults benefit just as much when left in a similar situation.  In other words, on a plane, everyone is a child wanting to know, “Are we there yet?”

On-Board Servers

 

The early Internet was certainly filled with its share of mistakes, drops and vicious lag that kept most everyone more annoyed than anything.  Companies who provided Internet needed vast storage often kept at temperatures where a jacket or coat would be necessary due to the enormous amounts of heat generated by the systems.  Today is a completely different story.  Adding a server and the wiring for a completely wireless system in an airplane is almost no different from wiring a new business and networking computers and printers.  The chief difference is the use of the Internet for pleasure over business, but one can realistically expect business to be happening as well during flights with free Internet as essential for IFEC profit margins.

Advertising Revenues

 

While many would like to think of the wireless as free, nothing is free.  Passengers interested in using the on-board wireless may have to listen to the occasional commercial interruption or pause during their movies or videos, but it is a small price to pay for the absolute convenience this offers.  Consider this: many of the YouTube channels that are run by commercial entities often preview their own videos with a brief commercial often about their own product.  An airline would do quite well with this content marketing strategy, particularly when they have a captive audience of sorts.

Future of IFEC Profit Margins

 

There is and will be plenty of room to grow from this point with IFEC profit margins.   Commercial lines still must balance their customer needs and wants with shareholder expectations and desires.  Wireless connectivity and IFEC on an airplane, however, is quickly advancing like the ideal window seat.

 

Charles Moore

Charles Moore

DX / CX / CDP IoT & 5G Wireless
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