Thomas Nilsson, CTO, Polystar

This is a guest post from Thomas Nilsson, CTO, Polystar, on the challenges of an LTE rollout.

When a new technology is introduced on the market, it is essential that the service quality that is experienced by the subscribers is not negatively affected in any way. “First impressions last”—there is truth in that old saying. So far, we have seen some early adopters of LTE, but now we are starting to see the transmitted LTE data volumes doubling every month.  LTE introduces a set of new network elements, and with the increased data load and more active subscribers those elements will now come under stress. We know from history that many problems are first discovered when network elements are subjected to real traffic load. Consequently, it will be very important to follow the performance of the network elements that provide the LTE infrastructure.

Lower latency and higher uplink and downlink throughput are key technical arguments for moving to LTE. However, this opens up the possibility of more bandwidth-hungry real-time services. The subscribers that will migrate to LTE are most likely the ones that today use good performing and well-functioning data services in 3G. Moving to LTE, those subscribers’ expectations will increase even more. Apart from super-fast browsing, they will expect services that take advantage of the lower latency, such as voice and video.

Today, voice is provided through CS fallback or VoLTE, with CSFB the choice when a legacy 3GPP network is available. I see 2013 as the year where VoLTE, delivered under an IMS umbrella, will move beyond the early adopters and grow a larger commercial footprint. Even though voice will represent only a small portion of all data transmitted in an LTE network, it will remain a key service with high-performance expectations.  To meet these expectations, it will be essential to keep track of the delivered voice quality.

One more challenge with moving to LTE is understanding the impact new applications and devices will have on the network infrastructure and user experience.  For example, we saw the introduction of smartphones and tablets in 3G completely changing the traffic profile, with a significant signalling overhead that caused overload of some network elements. The LTE networks will be much better prepared to handle such an eventuality, but it will still be crucial to understand how new devices and new software versions of existing devices will impact the end user experience.

The key to a successful LTE rollout is to keep the subscriber experience in focus, coupled with closely following the performance of new network elements and interfaces being introduced as part of the LTE deployment.

Polystar helps you keep the customer experience quality in focus. Meet us at the LTE World Summit on 22-24 May 2012 in Barcelona (stand 96) to continue this discussion.

Thomas Nilsson, CTO, Polystar

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