LTE performance: more than the sum of its parts
In the first part of our new LTE article series, we look at why consistently good user experience demands an end-to-end ecosystem approach.
LTE 4G technology offers mobile operators great potential to deliver a superior mobile broadband experience to their customers, but the stakes are high. Success in LTE means getting to market quickly, with services that offer subscribers something more than they have today, as cost-effectively as possible.
Ericsson has long highlighted the importance of taking a holistic, end-to-end approach to mobile network deployment in order to get the best possible performance. The experience the company has gained over many years of deploying end-to-end 2G and 3G networks is even more relevant in the successful roll-out and development of LTE.
A key reason for this is that user expectations of availability and performance have risen significantly since mobile broadband was first introduced. With their LTE 4G networks, operators need to deliver an even better mobile broadband experience, faster than ever before, at lower cost per bit than ever before.
By being able to address the entire LTE ecosystem – including everything from devices and device interoperability testing, through radio, backhaul and core networks, to applications, operational support systems and services – Ericsson is helping operators meet these expectations with LTE networks that perform well from day one.
This ability to address the whole ecosystem consistently becomes even more important as new capabilities like LTE Advanced, IPv6, Self-Organizing Network (SON), Heterogeneous Network (HetNet) solutions are introduced into LTE.
Getting the most out of LTE networks is all about understanding the contribution of every component, and ensuring that they work together in a synchronized and consistent way to optimize performance.
A case in point is the Automatic Neighbor Relations (ANR) feature – which for many operators is the first step in the implementation of SON solutions. Managing neighbor cell relations to ensure optimal traffic handling for user devices is one of the most labor-intensive activities mobile operators must undertake, and the introduction of LTE multiplies the effort needed.
By automatically setting up necessary neighbor relationships based on actual network conditions, ANR prevents failed hand-overs caused by ‘missing’ neighbors. It continuously secures and improves network performance, and reduces the need for manual planning and establishment of neighbor relations.
Ericsson’s ability to drive developments both in the radio network and in the LTE device ecosystem has been instrumental in ensuring the availability and success of ANR in live 4G networks. ANR has been shown to deliver a 90 percent reduction in overall network planning effort, by eliminating initial planning and optimization, along with 100 percent hand-over success thanks to accurate and timely addition of neighboring cells.
What does this ability to address the entire ecosystem mean in the real world of actual LTE user experience? Independent analysts are providing some of the answers. In its September 2011 report, ‘Mother of all Network Benchmark Tests’, Signals Research Group found that in one major US city, Ericsson’s LTE network was found to outperform another vendor’s significantly in both downlink and uplink throughput performance. Extensive drive tests showed that the Ericsson-delivered LTE network offered more than 20 percent faster median download rates and three times faster median upload rates than the competitor’s.
So when it comes to delivering an enhanced mobile broadband user experience, it seems overall LTE performance really is more than the sum of its parts.