The need for carriers and network operators to reduce operational expenses – also commonly referred to as OPEX (News
) – while increasing their service delivery capabilities is an ever-present challenge. As demand for mobile multimedia services increases and average revenue per user declines, mobile service providers must transform their networks to profitably support legacy voice and advanced packet-based services.
However, there are several challenges associated with transforming the mobile transport network, including the need to reduce backhaul transport costs, migration to a packet optimized network and to retain more value in the network, according to a recent Alcatel-Lucent (News
Wireless broadband technologies have spurred mobile service providers to meet end user demands with new packet-based services, such as SMS, Web browsing, media streaming and real-time multimedia.
To address market challenges and meet business objectives and user demands, the mobile transport network
must support new multimedia services (2G, 3G, and beyond
); enable scalable bandwidth at lower cost (leveraging Ethernet/IP); provide service assurance across all services (via carrier grade Ethernet/MPLS); and lower operations costs (via integrated management).
As part of a mobile network transformation
, mobile service providers must evolve the transport network to accommodate new packet-based services while simultaneously supporting existing 2G services – and offer a comprehensive IP transformation architecture
Mobile Evolution Transport Architecture (META) provides an end-to-end network architecture that supports Alcatel-Lucent’s mobile transformation strategy and can help network operators to migrate and scale their network profitably. META, company officials say, greatly reduces OPEX, and it increases scalability and availability to enable broadband service delivery over any media – fiber, copper or wireless.
The Alcatel-Lucent META end-to-end architecture enables service providers to simplify operations via integrated network and service management. Alcatel-Lucent executives say META provides flexibility and scalability to support new, profitable 3G and 4G mobile services by providing QoS support for all mobile services, increasing network optimization and capacity, improving cost per bit transported, and addressing infrastructure diversity via flexible backhaul alternatives, each providing an evolution to all-IP.
Service providers who are employing mobile packet transport based on META can leverage the same packet transport network architecture for LTE (News
). This gives operators a future-safe evolution path
to LTE, and allows co-existence with previous generations of mobile technologies through cost-effective, converged transport
Further, mobile service providers must find a way to deliver all services at attractive rates and at profitable operating margins. At the same time, they must provide the high QoE end users expect from advanced voice, video, streaming, and presence services. These objectives can only be met by leveraging existing network infrastructures
where possible, according to Alcatel-Lucent.
Yankee Group (News
) estimates backhaul costs account for approximately 30 percent of network-related OPEX, while Heavy Reading suggests that that mobile carriers are increasing their spend on backhaul by 15 percent to 25 percent annually to meet demand for a high-quality HSDPA or EV-DO end user experience – causing mobile operators to rethink their approach to the backhaul network.
Today, the backhaul network is under an increasing amount of stress. Data-centric services are having a significant impact on the network than the voice services it was originally intended to handle, including: Web browsing, requiring 9.6 to 240 kb/s; media streaming, requiring 128 to 384 kb/s; and real-time multimedia, requiring 1 to 3 Mb/s.
The backhaul network is highly impacted and current estimates show that data traffic will require over three times the bandwidth of voice on a 3G network by 2011, and total backhaul bandwidth (2G+3G) will double by 2012 and triple by 2017, according to a 2008 Bell Labs Business Modeling analysis and forecast.
Alcatel-Lucent has invested in a network of integration facilities across the world, known as IP Transformation Centers, also known as IPTCs. Currently, regional IPTCs are located in New Jersey, Antwerp, and Singapore, hosting more than 50 technologies.
Industry experts say that mobile operators will put themselves in a more advanced position to address their “pressing business imperatives” when they offer new services in response to subscriber demand, speed time to market, generate revenue and reduce operating expenses.
Although a significant number of operators are acknowledging the importance of services access and onboarding in meeting their strategic goals, they’ve stated uncertainty about how to achieve profitable revenue. Onboardingis the assimilation of new partners and service components into the network operator environment. This model for increasing profitability can open new revenue streams.
Alcatel-Lucent executives maintain that by opening their network environment to third-party developers and service providers, operators will ultimately find themselves better able to maintain their position, equipped to deliver the services that end-users want, enhance those services quickly in response to user demand, and are capable of leveraging the third-party partnerships they forge to build new business models.
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Erin Harrison is a Senior Editor with TMC. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Erik Linask