Traffic control for mobile
By Carole Kimutai, Nairobi, Kenya
As the demand for mobile broadband networks continues to increase, Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) has launched Liquid Net, a solution that will help decongest mobile traffic.
“Our Liquid Net solution enables the networks of operators to self-adapt and meet the capacity and coverage requirements by sharing resources based on demand,” says Karri Kuoppamaki, Nokia Siemens Networks Head of Technology for Africa Region.
Kuoppamaki says the demand for network resources is constantly changing, depending on place and time. For instance in the morning, there is normally a high demand for network capacity in major towns in Kenya especially in Nairobi; while late in the evening; it shifts to the suburban or residential areas.
“If there is a soccer match at Nyayo Stadium or graduation at the University of Nairobi, the network will experience a sudden increase in traffic around these particular areas. Having the ability to accommodate these fluctuations and provision capacity based on demand will help operators to improve customer loyalty and can open up new business opportunities for them,” Kuoppamaki says.
A sudden increase in demand or changes in network traffic causes bottlenecks in parts of the network. This often means that huge chunks of capacity can be left idle, with as much as 50% of a conventional core network’s capacity dormant at any one time. Liquid Net unfreezes the network capacity into a reservoir of resources that can flow to fulfil unpredictable demand, wherever and whenever people use broadband.
Kuoppamaki says the increasing number of mobile broadband users in Kenya and in Africa is bound to exert more pressure on the existing networks hence telecommunications service providers or operators need to build networks that are extremely flexible to be able to meet the ever-changing, individual needs.
Statistics from the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) show current mobile subscribers at 25 million as at June 2011. This means that the current mobile penetration rate is currently at approximately 63%. The mobile penetration rate is expected to reach 75%by the end of 2015. Nearly five years ago, the mobile penetration rate in Kenya was only 21%, an indicator of the tremendous growth of mobile usage.
According to NSN, mobile broadband rate (per 100 inhabitants) is currently at less than 9% and is expected to grow to 23% by the end of 2014. To meet the envisaged high demand, says Kuoppamaki, networks will need to tap into solutions like Liquid Net to enable their networks to self-adapt and meet the capacity and coverage requirements by sharing resources based on demand.
Liquid Net is able to unleash frozen network capacity by using automated, self-adapting broadband optimisation that makes the network self-aware of its operational status and the services being consumed. This is achieved through the use of built-in intelligence and real-time monitoring capabilities that allow the network to recognise where demand is coming from and instantly re-adjust itself to deliver the necessary capacity to match that demand.
How Liquid Net works
With Liquid Net, operators do not have to change their entire network to adopt the technology. It is designed to help operators extract greater value from their investments in their existing network infrastructure, which helps to mitigate the high costs normally associated with future network innovation.
“Liquid Net takes a fully evolutionary approach that is non-disruptive, yet also transformational. This will help operators reduce the capital expenditure requirements associated with building out network capacity to meet growing demand over the medium- to long-term, and will protect existing investments while also future-proofing them” Kuoppamaki explains.
“This is a very important factor as demand for broadband services can be highly unpredictable, fluctuating between locations at different times, as people use broadband at home, at work and on the move,” he says.
Liquid Net builds on the principles of NSN’s Liquid Radio architecture, which self-adapts its capacity and coverage to match fluctuating user demand through baseband pooling, and adds Liquid Core and Liquid Transport functionality to the network. The Liquid Radio architecture also offers Heterogeneous Networks, which enable all network layers to be used as a logically unified network.
Another aspect of Liquid Radio includes Active Antenna System technology, which supports multi-radio and multi-band access for GSM, 3G, LTE and LTE-Advanced, providing up to a 65% gain in capacity.