SON (self-organizing or self optimizing network) has been one of the most discussed and least implemented new technologies in the mobile world. That is about to change. With operators deploying ever-smaller cells, SON stops being a ‘nice to have’ and becomes critical to the business case.
Mobile operators hope SON will make their mobile broadband investments commercially viable. By automating many planning and management tasks, it can speed time to market and save on the operating costs of manual processes. This is especially critical when carriers start deploying large numbers of small cells, in order to ensure they deliver targeted capacity, rather than radio chaos, and in challenging cost and time parameters.
To read some discussions, it could be imagined that SON was already a widely deployed technology, but in fact it is in its infancy. There has been some activity, mainly in 3G – for which it was not originally designed – but while nearly all cellcos have a high level of interest, widespread commercial implementation for 4G or small cells remains weighted to 2015 and later.