Rise of LTE and HetNets creates need for self-organising network testing solutions

Arrival of 5G in 2020 will further fuel the demand for these solutions, finds Frost & Sullivan
Network operators are likely to face new challenges in achieving optimal network utilization as LTE and heterogeneous networks (HetNets) will continue to grow. The multivendor nature of HetNets could give rise to interoperability issues between cellular sites, thereby negatively affecting the quality of service experienced by the end user. The higher degree of automation apparent within self-organizing networks (SONs) will help enhance network utilization significantly. This implementation of SONs by network operators, in turn, will translate to greater uptake of SON-specific testing and monitoring solutions.
Recent analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Analysis of the Global Self-Organizing Network (SON) Testing and Monitoring Equipment Market, finds that the market earned revenues of $865.5 million in 2014 and estimates this to reach $1,877.8 million in 2020. The study covers probe-based network monitoring, probe-agnostic network analysis and optimization, drive testing equipment and network infrastructure testing.
“One of the main concerns of network operators is losing customers due to bad customer service in the event of unsuccessful incorporation of SON technology into their network,” said Frost & Sullivan Manufacturing 4.0 Research Analyst Rohan Joy Thomas. “This issue will ripple into the testing and monitoring market as well; therefore, market participants need to train and assist network operators during the incorporation of the technology into the infrastructure.”
The presence of legacy-based network solutions could weaken the market for SON testing and monitoring equipment. Thus, it is vital to encourage network operators to replace legacy-based testing methods with new and innovative ones. Enhanced customer service and the offer of various value-added services that help prospective buyers understand the need for better solutions will support test equipment vendors’ efforts to promote the testing of SON-enabled infrastructure.
In an effort to provide a holistic solution to its end users, SON testing and monitoring equipment vendors have tried to fill the apparent gaps in their portfolio by merging with or acquiring smaller companies. Key acquisitions include that of Tektronix Communications by Netscout, Swissqual by Rohde & Schwarz, Trendium by JDSU (now rebranded as Viavi Solutions) and Anite by Keysight Technologies.
“Furthermore, the anticipated release of 5G will push SONs to the forefront, driving the associated testing and monitoring equipment market,” pointed out Thomas. “SON testing and monitoring equipment will also see a rise in applicability across 2G and 3G deployments in order to facilitate the seamless integration of legacy-based infrastructure into the fold of network automation.”

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