According to a recent survey penned by Infonetics Research, Ericsson, Huawei, and Nokia Siemens Networks are the top vendors for self-organizing networks, a key enabler of successful mobile broadband deployment. According to the study, a core feature of SONs is their facility with optimizing mobile broadband networks' ability to plan, configure, manage, optimize and heal. By optimizing these functions, SONs allow operators to reduce operational expenses; improve in capacity, quality and network performance; and allow networks to effectively deploy small cells.
The report's authors further note that "[w]hile SON is up and running in a few LTE networks around the world, we were surprised to find that some of the large incumbents we surveyed for our SON and optimization study have deployed SON as the key optimization tool in their 3G networks as well." Among survey respondents, the automatic neighbor relations function, that relieves operators from needing to manually provision and manage neighboring cells, is the most deployed SON feature among respondents.
Notwithstanding, the survey found that a number of usage barriers remain that hinder network operators' ability to effectively deploy SONs. For example, 80 percent of respondents noted complexity primary barrier to effectively deploying SONs, and a majority of respondents considered SONs to be an unproven and immature technology.
Irrespective of these barriers, according to a white paper presented by Ericsson, SON features have resulted in 40 percent faster rollouts and as much as a 90 percent reduction in daily maintenance for new LTE networks. In this vein, the white paper's authors noted, SON functionality is a core factor in the creation of affordable, desirable mobile-broadband services, due primarily, to its support of leaner service and network management, and its optimization of coverage, capacity and high-quality rollouts via heterogeneous network deployments.