AT&T (SON) Self-Optimizing Network Technology

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Friday, 24 February 2012

AT&T (SON) Self-Optimizing Network Technology


As 100,000 runners and their fans moved through San Francisco during the annual Bay to Breakers 12K footrace in May, our cell sites followed them.

An innovative new self-optimizing network (SON) technology sensed when too many users were connected to a single tower. It instructed nearby towers to help, expanding their footprint to cover some of the users in the overloaded cell, while the overloaded cell shrank. It all happened automatically, in real time, without human intervention.

The same technology can detect when a cell site is down for maintenance and heal itself by automatically rerouting users’ connections to the next best site. Check out the video below for an illustration of SON at work.

Initial field trial results from California and Georgia have shown as much as a 10 percent improvement in call retainability, 10 percent improvement in throughput speeds and 15 percent reduction in overloading. Based on that success, we plan to deploy SON throughout our network this year.

SON came to us through Intucell, a company we began working with in the AT&T Foundry in April 2011, and we’re now the first U.S. carrier to deploy Intucell’s technology. The AT&T Foundry innovation centers are designed to bring new products and services to market 3x faster, and the speed and success of our SON work with Intucell is a great example.

The SON deployment is part of wide-ranging AT&T efforts to use innovative new technology to continue improving and expanding our network. AT&T invested $20 billion in its wireless and wireline networks in 2011 alone, including the completion of a record 150,000 network improvements. More than 80% of wireless data traffic is now on enhanced backhaul, and the investment is paying off in better service.

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