The move from 2G to 3G was fairly straightforward for mobile network operators (MNOs), as compared to what they face today to transition to 4G/LTE. LTE brings changes across the whole mobile network, including the core, transport and access networks, as it can only operate over an underlying all-IP infrastructure.
In order to cope with the service assurance challenges inherent to the new IP infrastructure, MNOs must completely restructure the way that they operate, monitor network performance and ensure service quality. A few of the challenges that MNOs face with the transition to 4G include: IP is not as reliable as legacy circuit-switch transport technology; MNOs need to collect data from multiple new physical and logical (e.g. class of service) network entities; and massive raw counters have to be converted into actionable indicators of E2E service quality. Furthermore, most operators deploying LTE are sourcing equipment from at least two infrastructure vendors.
Finally, while LTE is the “new kid on the block,” the reality is that it will have to coexist and interoperate seamlessly with 2G and 3G networks for many years.
To manage these infrastructure challenges, MNOs will need to move away from traditional silo-oriented management and service quality practices. In addition, to proactively prevent and resolve service disruptions across multiple vendor and adjacent domains, MNOs must efficiently deliver high quality of experience (QoE) and visualize E2E service quality. This cannot be achieved when each silo uses its own management toolset and performance data warehouse.
Although it's evident that many of these obstacles cannot be eliminated overnight, I strongly believe that LTE's all-IP architecture offers a great opportunity for MNOs to redefine the deployment, provisioning and service assurance practices in both the operational and engineering domains. With the right performance management platform and the correct advice, MNOs can make the critical first step toward establishing a solid foundation that guarantees high service quality expectations and operational excellence objectives are met.
As my colleague Marc Lippe mentioned in a previous post about this solution, the success of MNOs' transitions to LTE depends on their ability to manage network performance and deliver a high QoE to subscribers. I couldn't agree more, however the final decision is yours. I can only say that InfoVista's Service Performance Assurance Solution for LTE makes this is possible.