Towards Self-organizing Networks (SON): The Telecom Way to Network Automation


With ever-growing traffic, and services becoming increasingly advanced and diverse, mobile network service providers need to look for ways to optimize their resources and increase system capacity if they are to provide their customers with essential services. Deploying 5G and the new generation of networks doesn’t make things easier.

Automation is a must

There is no way to avoid the fact that automation must advance in order for mobile network service providers to deliver new products to their digital-native customers. And, as all systems become increasingly autonomous, the same goes for networks.

Self-organizing (SON) networks are the future of the telecom industry.

Self-organizing (SON) networks as a way of automating network management processes

A self-organizing network is based on automation technology designed to simplify and accelerate processes such as planning, management, configuration, optimization and maintenance (including repair) of mobile radio access networks.

SON in the telecom industry introduces what we refer to as “true network automation”, allowing mobile network service providers to implement radio access network optimization. This will substantially reduce operating costs, shorten the time needed to deploy new digital products to the market, and significantly increase the quality of customer service.

Architectural types and basic functions of self-organizing networks

In general, we can distinguish three main types of SON architecture:

  • Distributed SON (where the functions are dispersed among the elements at the network’s edge)
  • Centralized SON (where the functions are concentrated closer to the nodes of the higher order network or the OSS of the network)
  • Hybrid SON (where we can see elements of centralized and distributed SONs)

Thanks to the high-level of automation, self-organizing networks provide invaluable functionalities to mobile network service providers. Such functionalities include self-healing, self-optimization, self-configuration, and even self-protection.

Where are we at with SON implementation in telecom?

Self-organizing networks have been deployed in RAN by mobile network service providers since the emergence of  fourth generation network systems, and gained even greater significance with the arrival of 5G. In the years to come, it seems SONs will become a real must as ever more software providers invest in future-proof solutions in order to meet current and incoming market demands.

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