More small cell planning: this time from Amdocs

Amdocs adds small cell smarts to its planning software, and launches ANDSF products for managed WiFi.

Amdocs this week officially launched two new products aimed at the small cells market

The first, innovatively called Small Cell Solution, takes Amdocs’ network planning and deployment software and adds small cell parameters.

Shannon Bell, Director of Business Development in Amdocs’ Data Experience business unit, “The overall model for small cell deployment requires a different approach to design and engineer. It must be more automated to reduce cost.”

Bell said, “Compared to using the internal process tools that operators have today Amdocs’ small cell planning module will reduce network roll out time by 35% and costs by 25%.” Those numbers include a 50% reduction in network design time.

Bell added that Amdocs arrived at these numbers via “internal testing and test case deployments.”

“We based the testing on simulating actual process flows for small cell deployment, utilising a catalogue-driven approach,” she added.

Small cell planning and deployment has been something of a hot area for the past year or so. The principle vendors, notably NSN and Alcatel-Lucent have launched services aimed at automating the entire deployment process – from network design and planning to site acquisition and equipping engineers.

Other companies address elements of the process, from network and RF design, to the provision of ready-to-roll enclosures and equipment.

Bell thinks Amdocs has its timing right. “We’re starting to see small cells being deployed in the thousands, if not thousands a month, so timing-wise this is the right time. Small cell deployment is very different from macro deployment. There are benefits in having a vendor-agnostic tool that operators can use to deploy networks [using equipment from] across their different vendors.”

Amdocs has clearly been thinking about this for a while. A year ago it released the result of research in challenges operators face in small cell planning and deployment. That research claimed that operators faced a “bottleneck” in their small deployments due to restraints in planning. It added, “To optimise network performance, they [operators] will need sophisticated new network planning and management tool.

Another finding of that research was that operators would need intelligent offload capabilities to releive capacity pressures.

With that in mind, note that Amdocs’ second small cell announcemnt is around WiFi where its Smart Net product is aimed at giving operators an “intelligent WiFi offload” capability”. Bell said that solution is based on an “intelligent access controller” (ANDSF server) in the network and ANDSF device client. The ANDSF client-server control is design to sit alongside Amdocs’ subscriber and policy management solutions, and is integrated into Amdocs’ policy control capabilities, Bell said.

That means that a network operator can make offload decisions based on its knowledge of network conditions (via ANDSF) but also on subsriber preferences and controls (policy).