What is new 4G/5G Great SON – Self Organizing Networks ?

4G RAN, 5G RAN, Radio Access Network


SON is Self Organizing Network is an initiative taken by 3GPP towards standardizing Self-Optimizing and Self-Organizing capabilities for 4G LTE in Release 8 and Release 9. SON is designed to make planning, configuration, management, optimization of cellular networks to be easy and fast. SON is expected to be an adaptive intelligent system, where networks can detect changes that occur on the network, and based on these changes SON is able to make decisions to anticipate the change process itself .

SON can be divided into three working mechanisms as These mechanism enables the Cellular Network to automatically process, configure, and repair networks.

  • Self Configuration : Self Configuration is a process where the installation process of a new Node is configured automatically aiming faster On-Air the new Node. Configuration is also needed if there are changes in the system, such as a failure in the node, decreased performance, or changes related to the service. eNodeBs will automatically configure PCI, transmit power and frequency, enabling cell planning and rollout faster. So the general framework of self configuration in future LTE addresses issues related to the construction of new sites without human intervention, but Nodes on the network itself will automatically configure all parameters including IP addresses, neighbor lists and radio access parameters.
  • Self Optimization: After starting with the self configuration stage, it is required to optimize system parameters to ensure efficient performance. In cellular systems, optimization is usually done by periodically carrying out drive tests or analyzing the results of log reports generated from the NOC. But drive test approach will not be forever maintained in the future network, because the need for a network that can carry out self-optimization will be the main focus of current research. The discussion framework that can be developed in relation to self-optimization includes load balancing, interference control, coverage extension and capacity optimization.
  • Self Healing: In cellular networks, errors or failures are often found that are caused by non-functioning components or human errors. These failures could be software or hardware failure. Most failures are detected by a centralized OAM software and an alarm is raised as a warning. When the alarm is not cleared and cannot be repaired remotely, it must be solved by sending a technician who comes directly to the problem site repair manually. This requires a lot of time and uncertainty to bring system to normal. In SON system, these problems can be overcome by self healing mechanism. Self healing process can detect, diagnose an issue remotely, to do recovery actions automatically in an effort to minimize the effects of errors/failures on a network equipment.

SON Characteristics 

  • The key goal of SON features standardization has been kept to support multi-vendor network
  • SON is expected to be an adaptive intelligent system with scalability, stability and agility
  • SON standardization has been devoted to defining the appropriate interfaces to allow exchange of common information which can then be used by different SON algorithm
  • SON goal to provide optimal coverage where UE should be able to get access to a network any time/anywhere if they want. Once a UE get connected to a network, it should be able to maintain the connection as long as it want and maintain the default quality of service.
  • It also aim to provide optimal capacity where network should be able to support as many subscribers as possible with enough service quality.

3GPP Release 8 SON Features
In 3GPP Release 8, SON functionality focused on features associated mostly with Self Configuration dealing with initial equipment installation and integration to support the commercial deployment. These feature included:

  • Automatic Inventory
  • Automatic Software Download
  • Automatic Neighbor Relation (ANR)
  • Automatic Physical Cell ID (PCI) assignment

3GPP Release 9 SON Features
In Release 9, SON functionality focused moved to operational aspects of already deployed commercial networks, in particular key aspects related to network optimization procedures. The Release 9 standardization scope included following additional features:

  • Mobility Robustness/Handover optimization (MRO)
  • Random Access Channel (RACH) Optimization
  • Load Balancing Optimization
  • Inter-Cell Interference Coordination (ICIC)

3GPP Release 10 SON Features
3GPP Release 10, provides a richer suite of SON functions for macro and metro networks overlaid on and inter-operating with existing mobile networks. It includes enhancements to existing features and definition of new feature supporting new use cases:

  • Coverage & Capacity Optimization (CCO)
  • Enhanced Inter-Cell Interference Coordination (eICIC)
  • Cell Outage Detection and Compensation
  • Self-healing Functions
  • Minimization of Drive Testing (MDT)
  • Energy Savings

3GPP Release 11 SON Features
3GPP Release 11, provides enhancements to the following features:

  • Automatic Neighbor Relations
  • Load Balancing Optimization
  • Handover Optimization
  • Coverage and Capacity Optimization
  • Energy Savings
  • Coordination between various SON Functions
  • Minimization of Drive Tests

3GPP SON References

  • 3GPP TS 32.500 – Self-Organizing Networks (SON); Concepts and requirements
  • 3GPP TS 32.501 – Self-configuration of network elements; Concepts and requirements
  • 3GPP TS 32.502 – Self-configuration of network elements Integration Reference Point (IRP); Information Service (IS)
  • 3GPP TS 32.503 – Self-configuration of network elements Integration Reference Point (IRP); Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA) Solution Set (SS)
  • 3GPP TS 32.505 – Self-configuration of network elements Integration Reference Point (IRP): eXtensible Markup Language (XML) file format definition
  • 3GPP TS 32.506 – Self-configuration of network elements Integration Reference Point (IRP); Solution Set (SS) definitions
  • 3GPP TS 32.507 Telecommunication management; Self-configuration of network elements Integration Reference Point (IRP): SOAP Solution Set (SS)
  • 3GPP TS 32.541 – Self-Organizing Networks (SON); Self-healing concepts and requirements
  • 3GPP TR 32.821 – Study of Self-Organizing Networks (SON) related Operations, Administration and Maintenance (OAM) for Home Node B (HNB)
  • 3GPP TR 32.823 – Self-Organizing Networks (SON); Study on self-healing
  • 3GPP TR 32.836 – Centralized Coverage and Capacity Optimization (CCO) Self-Organizing Networks (SON) function
  • 3GPP TR 32.860 – Study on enhancement of OAM aspects of distributed Self-Organizing Network (SON) functions

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