Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Greg Schulz, Jerome McFarland

Blog Feed Post

Forget 5G for Now, LTE Still Has a Long Ways to Go

It has been over four years since Telia Sonera Sweden and Finland launched the world’s first commercial LTE networks and ushered in the age of true mobile broadband services.  By the end of 2014 we expect there to be nearly 300 LTE networks serving upwards of 300 million users, with nearly 1,400 different devices connecting at speed up to 300Mbps. Users from the GSM and CDMA worlds have to think the pinnacle has been reached, but far from it.  LTE is just beginning to get its legs.

Advances such as VoLTE and LTE-A will expand beyond South Korea into the US, UK, Japan in 2014; and we have yet to see the impact of 40MHz channels, let alone 100MHz channels, which will usher in the Gigabit age for mobile networking.  LTE still has far to go to reach its full potential, in particular in areas such as SDN/NFV/Cloud architecture and Small Cells, and I fully expect standards bodies, MNO’s and equipment vendors to draw from the experience of LTE in these two key areas as 5G standards shape up.

Virtualization of LTE infrastructure holds promise, but faces significant challenges.

The mobile network infrastructure is roughly a USD50B market globally in 2014 according to our estimates of RAN and core investments across all network technologies.  A growing trend among the infrastructure vendors is to cannibalize their own hardware-based revenues streams to take advantage of the growing enterprise push towards software defined networking (SDN), virtualization (NFV) and Cloud architecture.  The major network equipment vendors have already been discussing their solutions in these areas.  These solutions are intended to lower mobile network solution costs through the use of simpler, commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) hardware running virtualized functions in both distributed and centralized architectures depending on the needs of the operator.

Every major MNO I spoke with this year at both our Singapore Research event in January 2014, and at MWC 2014 expressed interest in these new architectures to help reduce Capex and Opex costs, deal with network scale, and simplify network operations.  However, these MNO CTO’s have also expressed a uniquely similar set of concerns regarding Cloud-enabled/Virtualized network solutions:

  • What is the reliability of the virtualized solutions?  One comment from the CTO at a multi-national MNO underscores a general concern: ‘some of the LTE core systems today are not at five nines reliability.  How do they expect systems running on IT hardware to be five nines reliable?’
  • How do I troubleshoot virtualized systems? With network functions such as MME, BBU and the packet core running on COTS hardware, how do I pinpoint and remedy problems quickly and effectively? How do I isolate the network from rogue processes to minimize impact on my subscribers?
  • Will the systems scale as expected?  A number of CTO and network heads mentioned the early network failures at DoCoMo and Verizon as software issues not hardware failures and questioned whether or not the virtualized functions could handle the network loads.


Cloud RAN was also a key area of interest, but responses from a selected set of MNO’s revealed the fibre-rich requirements of Cloud RAN may limit its use in 4G network to somewhere between ‘0% and 1%’ of sites according to one European MNO CTO, with the high estimate being 5% of sites. Fibre-dense locations such as Seoul, South Korea; Hong Kong; Singapore and certain major cities around the world may find a home for Cloud RAN, but the fibre requirements may prove a hindrance to wider deployment.

MNOs technical leadership has clearly given the trends towards cloud and virtualization significant mind-share and we are seeing some tests, trials and commercial deployments of limited functions, for now. The challenge for the vendors is sharpening the deployment opportunities for Cloud RAN, and addressing the Telco-grade concerns regarding the virtualized functions.  The good news is that the CTO’s I spoke with see virtualization as a 10 year project, so lots of time for the vendors to address their concerns.

Small Cells for LTE will undergo an extended development cycle.

Small Cells continue to solve key coverage problems for the MNO’s in both 2G and 3G networks.  The expected market growth is in additional 3G expansion and especially in 4G networks providing capacity and coverage to the macro network and solving the increasing problem of indoor coverage for higher order (>2 GHz) 4G networks. The Small Cell Forum continues an impressive march towards market development with the release at MWC of its Urban Foundations release helping operators address Small Cell deployment in dense urban centres.

I expect that in 2014 operators will be moving to broaden their small cell installation activities, particularly in the dense urban areas where most of the high-use clients tend to congregate.  However a number of operators have also indicated a need for multi-band small cell systems supporting up to five bands, which are not yet on the market.  Vendors have dual-band small cells either released or in testing but the bulk of the market seems to be waiting for the more capable systems. 

As more operators turn towards LTE-A and carrier aggregation to combine multiple spectrum positions (28% of MNO’s have 3 or more spectrum bands according to the Analysys Mason Spectrum Auction Tracker) the need for the small cell to match or exceed the macro cell for band support grows.  We look for a wave of multiband small cells to be launched by the end of this year for installation beginning in late 2015.

5G and LTE: Friends, or Frenemies?

In the past four months I have seen six different vendor presentations of what is needed in the 5G standard and I’ve discussed with four major MNO’s their views on what issues 5G should address.   So I’m describing the current 5G development status as this: we are at the ‘Wish List’ phase. The numbers mentioned are impressive: 1000x data volume, Gigabit data rates, 99% reliability, 100% coverage, 1ms latency. The feature list is even more impressive.  Pretty much everything is on the table, and I’ll go into this in more detail in another post. 

For now, MNO’s and enterprises should be looking at the near future, the next 3-5 years, with a view towards how can multi-megabit mobile services change how the offer and how they do business?  If the old brick and mortar retail establishments are under fire from internet-based firms, what about other businesses as well?  If I can get the performance of my fixed office and provide tools for even better coordination and interworking for individuals and teams of people wherever they are, what does that do for my business?

About the Author
Follow Chris Nicoll on Twitter @Canicoll
View Chris Nicoll's Community Profile

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Deborah Strickland

The articles presented here are blog posts from members of our Service Provider Mobility community. Deborah Strickland is a Web and Social Media Program Manager at Cisco. Follow us on Twitter @CiscoSPMobility.

@CloudExpo Stories
The IoTs will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and share the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the development proc...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ericsson has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Ericsson is a world leader in the rapidly changing environment of communications technology – providing equipment, software and services to enable transformation through mobility. Some 40 percent of global mobile traffic runs through networks we have supplied. More than 1 billion subscribers around the world re...
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Peak 10, Inc., a national IT infrastructure and cloud services provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Peak 10 provides reliable, tailored data center and network services, cloud and managed services. Its solutions are designed to scale and adapt to customers’ changing business needs, enabling them to lower costs, improve performance and focus inter...
You deployed your app with the Bluemix PaaS and it's gaining some serious traction, so it's time to make some tweaks. Did you design your application in a way that it can scale in the cloud? Were you even thinking about the cloud when you built the app? If not, chances are your app is going to break. Check out this webcast to learn various techniques for designing applications that will scale successfully in Bluemix, for the confidence you need to take your apps to the next level and beyond.
There is an ever-growing explosion of new devices that are connected to the Internet using “cloud” solutions. This rapid growth is creating a massive new demand for efficient access to data. And it’s not just about connecting to that data anymore. This new demand is bringing new issues and challenges and it is important for companies to scale for the coming growth. And with that scaling comes the need for greater security, gathering and data analysis, storage, connectivity and, of course, the...
So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, will provide tips on how to be successful in large scale machine lear...
Peak 10, Inc., has announced the implementation of IT service management, a business process alignment initiative based on the widely adopted Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) framework. The implementation of IT service management enhances Peak 10’s current service-minded approach to IT delivery by propelling the company to deliver higher levels of personalized and prompt service. The majority of Peak 10’s operations employees have been trained and certified in the ITIL frame...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry's single source for the cloud. Fusion's advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including cloud...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enzu, a leading provider of cloud hosting solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Enzu’s mission is to be the leading provider of enterprise cloud solutions worldwide. Enzu enables online businesses to use its IT infrastructure to their competitive advantage. By offering a suite of proven hosting and management services, Enzu wants companies to foc...
See storage differently! Storage performance problems have only gotten worse and harder to solve as applications have become largely virtualized and moved to a cloud-based infrastructure. Storage performance in a virtualized environment is not just about IOPS, it is about how well that potential performance is guaranteed to individual VMs for these apps as the number of VMs keep going up real time. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Dhiraj Sehgal, in product and marketing at Tintri, will discu...
SYS-CON Events announced today that DatacenterDynamics has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. DatacenterDynamics is a brand of DCD Group, a global B2B media and publishing company that develops products to help senior professionals in the world's most ICT dependent organizations make risk-based infrastructure and capacity decisions.
Between the mockups and specs produced by analysts, and resulting applications built by developers, there exists a gulf where projects fail, costs spiral, and applications disappoint. Methodologies like Agile attempt to address this with intensified communication, with partial success but many limitations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Charles Kendrick, CTO & Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, will present a revolutionary model enabled by new technologies. Learn how business and devel...
The IoT has the potential to create a renaissance of manufacturing in the US and elsewhere. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Florent Solt, CTO and chief architect of Netvibes, will discuss how the expected exponential increase in the amount of data that will be processed, transported, stored, and accessed means there will be a huge demand for smart technologies to deliver it. Florent Solt is the CTO and chief architect of Netvibes. Prior to joining Netvibes in 2007, he co-founded Rift Technol...
Struggling to keep up with increasing application demand? Learn how Platform as a Service (PaaS) can streamline application development processes and make resource management easy.
If there is anything we have learned by now, is that every business paves their own unique path for releasing software- every pipeline, implementation and practices are a bit different, and DevOps comes in all shapes and sizes. Software delivery practices are often comprised of set of several complementing (or even competing) methodologies – such as leveraging Agile, DevOps and even a mix of ITIL, to create the combination that’s most suitable for your organization and that maximize your busines...
Up until last year, enterprises that were looking into cloud services usually undertook a long-term pilot with one of the large cloud providers, running test and dev workloads in the cloud. With cloud’s transition to mainstream adoption in 2015, and with enterprises migrating more and more workloads into the cloud and in between public and private environments, the single-provider approach must be revisited. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Yoav Mor, multi-cloud solution evangelist at Cloudy...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Stratoscale, the software company developing the next generation data center operating system, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Stratoscale is revolutionizing the data center with a zero-to-cloud-in-minutes solution. With Stratoscale’s hardware-agnostic, Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) solution to store everything, run anything and scale everywhere...
Angular 2 is a complete re-write of the popular framework AngularJS. Programming in Angular 2 is greatly simplified – now it's a component-based well-performing framework. This immersive one-day workshop at 18th Cloud Expo, led by Yakov Fain, a Java Champion and a co-founder of the IT consultancy Farata Systems and the product company SuranceBay, will provide you with everything you wanted to know about Angular 2.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...