Vodafone and Telefonica show SON rising in importance

Vodafone UK deploys Cisco SON as Telefonica extends its work with Cellwize.

TMN has covered the rise of SON in detail over the past years, tracking how the technology, which automates decisions to optimise networks based on a range of parameters – from neighbour cell interference to actual customer location and experience – has become an increasingly important tool for operators.

This week two announcements have shown that SON momentum continues. In the UK, Vodafone has announced it will support its rollout of new radio technology in London and the South East of England* with a Cisco SON deployment. In Latin America, Telefonica said it would extend its existing commitment to Cellwize’s SON technology to seven further networks.

Vodafone said Cisco’s SON is now being used across the Southern Region and London – the same area in which it is densifying its network by deploying Ericsson Radio System – the relatively new radio unit platform from Ericsson. Key drivers for SON include the deployment of smaller cell sizes as networks are densified, the addition of new network features and the ability to handle multi-vendor networks. Cisco’s win could be a verification of the multi-vendor nature of the deployment, as Vodafone has gone for something outside of Ericsson’s own on-board SON capabilities.

A Vodafone release said: “SON can monitor usage levels in real time and direct calls to alternative masts or antennas, distributing traffic more effectively to reduce congestion.  It also assists Vodafone’s engineers in optimising the network for special events and planning for future customer demand, particularly in urban areas“.

Cisco’s SON solution was built around the key acquisition of Intucell’s Centralised SON solution in February 2013. It backed up to some extent by the acquisition of Ubiquisys in May of that year, giving it a distributed SON capability to add to the core C-SON solution.

Vodafone’s competitor Telefonica has also invested in C-SON provider Cellwize in the London area, as well as deploying an alternative cell-level traffic optimisation technique, provided by edge-computing specialist Vasona Networks.

Cellwize’s latest announcement with Telefonica is to confirm that the the operator will be using the technology in its networks in six South American countries – Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.

(*Footnote: Vodafone today also advertised for a radio network optimisation engineer to develop its networks within the M25 area. Quote: “Ensuring that the regional radio network is designed, optimised and performing at the best possible levels, monitoring and improving Radio KPI’s that reflect customer experience, you will work with Vendors, Suppliers, other Opco’s and deployment teams, Service Operations and other networks domains in cross functional teams to improve performance.”)