The 5G migration: SON solutions must become the brains of the network

Self-optimising network (SON) technology deployments have been limited and our survey indicates that most mobile network operators (MNOs) have reduced their 1-to-2-year investment expectations as they wait for more functionality. This report offers advice for vendors that are developing SON solutions.

Table of contents

 

About this report

 

Executive summary

 

SON solutions have not met MNO expectations; without an acceptable SON 2.0, MNOs will struggle to implement 5G

 

Operators are looking for two major changes from SON 2.0 – commercial alignment and 5G enablement

 

Recommendations

 

DRIVERS AND INHIBITORS OF SON

 

High expectations for SON among operators, but so far commercial progress has been disappointing

 

There are real drivers to adopt SON solutions, but the goalposts are moving, and none has yet been urgent enough to spark mass adoption

 

Meanwhile, new functions alone will not break down barriers – SON 2.0 vendors must address end-to-end platforms and processes

 

MNOs remain wary of automation, but they must be equipped to compete with new rivals that take automation as a starting point

 

Vendors need to unlock revenue by convincing MNOs that safe choices will put them at a competitive disadvantage

 

SON 2.0 ESSENTIAL TO UNLOCK MNO SPENDING

 

To make SON essential, vendors must outline a clear SON 2.0 roadmap to improve revenue/cost ratio, enable new services and lead to 5G

 

Densification makes SON solutions essential, not nice to have, and from 2016 this will be a key element of MNOs network evolution

 

Efficiency, density, flexibility and integration are the critical success factors for SON 2.0

 

SON vendors must also prove a direct link to new revenue enablement and service agility in order to make the business case

 

As networks and services become more complex, cloud-SON will be essential to deliver full benefits

 

HOW VENDORS CAN PUSH SON TO THE TIPPING POINT

 

Five pillars of the new SON will help overcome resistance to automation and unlock MNO investment, laying the ground for 5G

 

Very high level of innovation is driving SON towards the tipping point, but fragmentation is still a potential barrier to mass deployment

 

With interoperability, the market is better placed to take off, for those vendors that can deliver simple deployable systems

 

SON vendors need to learn lessons from the open-source community and embrace open models to kickstart deployment

 

5G will make SON into an open, service-centric platform and vendors will gain advantage if they provide a smooth migration path for customers

 

Appendix

 

About Analysys Mason

 

List of figures

 

Figure 1: SON solutions will be the brains of 5G and cloud-RAN

 

Figure 2: MNOs expected investment in SON tools and services, 2016–2020

 

Figure 3: MNOs expected spend on SON tools and services, 2016 and 2020

 

Figure 4: The evolution of SON in line with changing MNO requirements

 

Figure 5: MNOs expected spend on SON tools and services, and the reality, 2015 and 2016

 

Figure 6: MNOs expected investment in SON tools and services, 2016–2020

 

Figure 7: Percentage of MNOs placing key factors in their top-four most important drivers for SON deployment, 2014 and 2016

 

Figure 8: Percentage of MNOs placing each inhibitor in their top-three factors delaying SON deployment

 

Figure 9: Facebooks Telecoms Infra Project (TIP) vision

 

Figure 10: Drivers and inhibitors of MNO adoption of automation and SON solutions

 

Figure 11: Commercial impacts of conservative and proactive approaches to SON

 

Figure 12: The evolution of SON solutions in line with changing MNO competitive requirements

 

Figure 13: Density of cells per km2, at which SON becomes desirable or essential

 

Figure 14: Percentage of MNOs planning to embark on upgrade, by timeframe and technology

 

Figure 15: Percentage of small cells in dense environments (more than 75 cells per km2) that are actively managed by SON solutions, 2018

 

Figure 16: Percentage of small cells in non-dense environment that are actively managed by SON solutions, 2018

 

Figure 17: Information used by SON 2.0 to create an optimised experience

 

Figure 18: Cloud-SON in a centralised cloud-RAN scenario

 

Figure 19: The five key requirements of a SON 2.0 system, according to the MNO survey, and the way those will lay the foundations for 5G

 

Figure 20: The fragmented SON landscape

 

Figure 21: Investment in SON products (not services), with and without interoperability

 

Figure 22: The interdependency of SON and densification

 

Figure 23: Facebooks open-source SON-driven small cells


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