Reducing Wireless Network CAPEX through Streamlined Planning

MNOs need to embrace comprehensive, unified systems over individual tools... in order to provide an instant and accurate view of network quality and performance.

Improving the margins

Paramount to identifying and reducing stranded capacity, thus reducing the cost of network extensions and maintaining MNOs’ margins, is the ability to shorten the planning and optimization cycle. But again, the annoying catch-22 is that while MNOs are deploying multiple new technologies to increase capacity and handle the rising usage demands of subscribers, those are the very technologies that make the process longer and more complex. 

Because network traffic is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 66 percent over the next four years, according to the Cisco Visual Networking Index’s report “Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2012-2017, MNOs can’t afford to approach the planning and optimization process with a segmented strategy in which multiple siloed tools operate independently of one another and are based on data snapshots that are already three to six months old.

This is where next-generation planning and optimization solutions come into play. MNOs need to embrace comprehensive, unified systems over individual tools, for which data and plans across multiple technologies throughout the network can be properly synchronized in order to provide an instant and accurate view of network quality and performance. 

With the right platform, RAN engineering and optimization departments can gain access to up-to-date network intelligence, information traditionally controlled by transport or service-quality departments, allowing them to automatically generate usage and coverage simulations based on current network intelligence and streamline network planning and optimization processes so that new capacity and technology deployments are made strategically, at the right times and in the right places. Planning and optimization tools with real-time network intelligence will ultimately minimize OPEX and CAPEX and improve MNOs’ margins.

An additional benefit is the ability to innovate by providing predictive coverage maps to departments like marketing or customer care. The most accurate planning solutions allow you to leverage predicted traffic levels from the network-intelligence platform to identify the exact locations where subscribers are about to experience service-quality degradations, offering companies another advantage when it comes to stopping problems before they start, and allowing them to stand out among the competition by improving their subscribers’ quality of experience.

Improving small cells’ ROI

The most efficient planning methodologies begin with a thorough analysis of the current state of the network, the key word being “current.” In order to conduct such an analysis, you need access to real-time network intelligence, but thoroughly analyzing outdated information will never yield the return on investment (ROI) that MNOs need to protect their margins.

Optimizing the strategic deployment of small cells is a perfect example. Due to the nature of today’s heterogeneous networks, or HetNets, and the constant evolution of new network technologies, there’s no single, all-encompassing small-cell strategy. Instead, there is a wide range of potential strategies, all with their own merits and applications based on the specific needs of individual MNOs. From a technical point of view, it’s important to remember that small cells are primarily deployed to build out cellular networks and capture more traffic, easing the stress on those networks’ macro layers. 


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