NGMN to focus on small cells, content delivery, RAN evolution and OSS

Operator group to define requirements for Network-to-OSS integration, Content Delivery and Optimisation, Small Cells and RAN Evolution.

The NGMN announced on 11 March that it will be working on four project areas over the coming year. These projects are intended to define operator requirements for specific scenarios that are then fed into the standards bodies that are forming technical specifications in these areas. As such, they give a good indication as to what items operators would like to see benefit from some cross-industry participation and input.

The Mobile Network spoke to Philipp Deibert, Executive Programme Manager, NGMN about the scope of the organisation’s work over the coming year. He said that the aim is to focus on areas that the NGMN can have a specific short to medium term impact, working with multiple standards organisations to feed in the resulting NGMN outputs and requirements.

“There’s a lot you can address from devices to radio access, backhaul and the core but these four projects fulfil the criteria for NGMN projects: we are technically driven with a business perspective and we focus on areas where we can have a short to mid-term impact, over 1-3 years. We’re really looking at the technical issues that will have an impact in the coming years in terms of deployment and operation,” Diebert said.

The four new projects are:

Next Generation Converged Operations Requirements
This project will build upon Phase One of the NGCOR project, which is intended to “reduce complexity and integration costs in the area of network management by achieving standardised interfaces between the Telco infrastructure and the OSS.”

The final output of this project is expected in the summer of 2013. The project is led by DT, together with Orange, Telia-Sonera, Telecom Italia and China Mobile.

Deibert: “For NGMN this area is quite new; we approached this OSS area one and a half years ago. OSS and operation of networks is getting more important, for example in areas such operations on self optimising networks. NGMN has provided use cases and prioritisation for use cases within the NGCOR project. There is also a lot of highly relevant work in the Telemanagement Forum and on the mobile side 3GPP SA5 is doing a lot of standardisation work. NGMN is positioned in the traditional role as a
requirement setting organisation, defining requirements and working with other organisations to find the best way forward.”

Evolution of the Radio Access Network (RAN)
The RAN Evolution project will evaluate options and give recommendations for a future radio access network architecture. There will be different workstreams, for example on C-RAN, Backhaul/Fronthaul, multi RAT operation, dynamic spectrum sharing, CoMP.

This project is being led by China Mobile which was also the leading company in NGMN’s previous project work on Centralised RAN. Work-stream leads are EE, Deutsche Telekom and work-stream co-leads are SKT, Bell, Huawei, Telecom Italia, Alcatel-Lucent, Samsung, Ceragon, Telus.

Deibert: “There might be options on how to build the future RAN architecture in terms of where to put intelligence and decision making in the overall RAN, where to put the processing, what makes more sense in terms of efficiency. All the streams will come together and in the end represent a kind of comprehensive NGMN vision of how the RAN architecture should be evolving in the future. We hope to get to a common viewpoint of what makes more sense for different scenarios.”

How to optimise traffic delivery, how to adopt an architecture in terms of content delivery, will be a high priority issue for the industry.

Mobile Content Delivery Optimisation
This third area is another new area for NGMN. The project aims to define use cases for Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) and to develop related requirements. Furthermore, recommendations will be provided with regards to content delivery architecture options and CDN functionalities (like e.g. caching, media adaptation).

The project will have a “strong contribution” from Samsung* which is a co-lead China Mobile. Lead organisation is SK Telecom.

Deibert: “This also is not one of the very traditional NGMN topics. Content delivery in the future will be a high priority issue for operators: how to optimise traffic delivery, how to adopt an architecture in terms of content delivery, will be a high priority issue for the industry.”

Deployment and Operation of Small Cells

The objective of the Small Cells project is to define scenarios, use cases, system architecture and functional requirements for the fast and efficient introduction and operation of Small Cells. The work-streams will deal in particular with the aspects of Wi-Fi integration, cost efficient deployment, operational issues, multi-vendor deployment and backhauling for Small Cells.

Lead: Telecom Italia. Co-leads on work-streams are FT-Orange, China Mobile, Bell Mobility, ALU, Cambridge Broadband Networks Ltd.

Diebert: “What are most high priority use cases, what are the related requirements for these use cases and solutions? How to open up the interfaces for multi-vendor networks and of course backhaul are key parts of this analysis.”

The output for all the final three projects will start from Summer 2014 (work has just started) with final requirements released at the end of 2013 or in early 2014.

*Although NGMN is an operator body, vendors do play a role as leads and co-leads in certain projects. Ericsson, for instance, was co-lead on the NGMN Het Net project. Deibert said that the NGMN vendors are involved to develop requirements, and to cross-check technical and economic feasibility through the process.