Understanding LTE, inside and out

July 07, 2014 // By Marc Bensadoun, Newfield Wireless
LTE expansion continues at a rapid pace. Competition is particularly high in markets like the UK, France and Germany where operators are launching commercial 4G services, offering exclusive new devices and more recently turning to VoLTE. Marc Bensadoun, CEO of Newfield Wireless, a Tektronix Communications company, discusses how the shift to 4G services and the resulting growth of new mobile use cases has presented operators with a fresh set of challenges. When it comes to LTE, optimizing the RAN for voice and messaging is no longer enough; traffic patterns are changing and operators need real-time intelligence about what is happening at the network edge. In this article, Bensadoun explains how information collected from the RAN can be used to inform operational and business decisions.

LTE changed the paradigm for mobile network operators and now, 4G is rapidly becoming standardized across the globe. Recent figures published by the Global Mobile Suppliers Association indicate that 288 operators have already launched LTE and it is now available in 104 countries around the world. The move has brought with it a number of new use cases such as video streaming and online gaming, plus the highly anticipated Voice over LTE (VoLTE) which is leading to high-quality voice and video calling services being delivered over mobile networks.

Yet, with this transformation taking place, it is no longer enough for operators to simply maintain their networks for traditional voice, messaging and data. As a result of this paradigm shift in telecommunications, it is now vital that operators develop a much better understanding of the network complexities and the ways subscribers engage with the network. However, this needn’t be an expensive or time consuming process, as operators already have access to this information – it’s hidden within the mobile network; all that’s required are the right keys to uncover it.

Operators that implement end-to-end service assurance and optimization tools covering the entire network from the RAN to the core can unlock this valuable data. RAN management and optimization is vital to delivering on the potential of LTE as it holds the keys to ensuring quality network performance for subscribers. But it comes with its own set of challenges, as historically it has been a very costly exercise for mobile operators. Not only that, but 70 percent of subscriber issues now occur inside the RAN, and at least 10 percent of those problems are not resolvable with existing monitoring workflows. So it comes as no surprise that having a better and more affordable approach to tackling the RAN is now a key technical and financial differentiator for operators, particularly as they’re also looking to recoup the considerable investments they’ve made on LTE network build-outs.

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