Thought Leadership White Paper
Unleashing the potential of 4G LTE
Improve end-to-end availability and performance with integrated network
Unleashing the potential of 4G LTE
2 4G LTE complexities pose big questions for providers
3 Integrated management for 4G LTE
4 A new paradigm for networking data
6 A 4G LTE solution to meet every need
7 Meet the 4G LTE challenges of today—and tomorrow—
8 For more information
Around the world, communications service providers (CSPs) are
answering the call from data-hungry consumers and upgrading
their 3G networks to support 4G Long-Term Evolution (LTE).
The benefits of this emerging technology are well-known.
4G LTE offers far more bandwidth, reduced latency and a
better overall customer experience while opening up lucrative
new growth opportunities for service providers.
This transition comes as the exploding popularity of smart-
phones, tablets and other mobile devices transforms how
consumers use digital media and communicate with each other.
Meanwhile, revenues for cellular voice services are declining.
Gone are the days when people use their phones solely for
talking or texting. Instead, consumers are more engaged with
content—watching television, playing online games and using
other media-rich functions that require large amounts of
Since the introduction of the 4G standard, more than
170 4G LTE commercial networks have been launched globally,
and approximately 248 commercial networks are forecasted to
be in place by the end of 2013.
The number of users for these
services is expected to continue growing as innovative new
applications and services arise from the inherent advantages
of 4G LTE networks—with an estimated 1.2 billion 4G LTE
subscribers anticipated worldwide by 2016.
The total number
of 4G LTE subscribers is projected to reach 198 million in 2013,
with subscriptions growing by 115 percent between 2012 and
The massive uptick in bandwidth consumption is a major
reason why CSPs are upgrading their networks from older
2G/3G systems to 4G LTE.
4G LTE complexities pose big questions
The transition from 3G to 4G LTE creates serious challenges
for CSPs. Because of the relatively fixed, static nature of 3G,
diagnosing and fixing network problems was a fairly determinis-
tic process. That’s not the case with 4G LTE, where connections
are not derived based on hierarchy, but defined based on net-
work requirements, protocols and behavior. The dynamic nature
of 4G LTE makes it difficult for CSP operators to maintain an
up-to-date network topology view and to spot the problems
impacting key customers and services.
In a 4G LTE world, it’s far less clear if a network problem will
actually affect service, and it’s harder to tell where the problem is
actually occurring. Outages in 4G LTE networks often result in
a large number of events from many devices on the network.
But it’s hard for CSPs to know what these events mean, what
correlations exist between them, and how to prioritize them in
the context of their overall quality of service and customer expe-
rience. The greater flexibility of 4G LTE networks makes them
inherently more complicated. 4G LTE networks generate far
more fault events than 3G networks and have their own set of
complex topological relationships, configuration requirements,
security and performance characteristics, and IP and transport
However, the additional speed and capacity provided by
4G LTE networks is putting additional strains on the mobile
backhaul networks. Not only are the transport requirements
much higher, but there is a fundamental shift from using
Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) transport in 2G and
3G networks to packet transport in 4G LTE networks. In
addition, Carrier Ethernet and Multi-Protocol Label Switching
(MPLS) are the preferred technologies for routing mobile
backhaul traffic in the most efficient way possible. This means
that 2G and 3G networks are not going away any time soon—
further complicating the network landscape and driving the need
for solutions that can support backhauling across all of these
What if there was a way to separate the truly critical information
from the cacophony of meaningless data noise? What if you
could quickly scan and visualize your 4G LTE network topolo-
gies in order to rapidly identify and fix problems? What if you
had tools that could accommodate the rapid speed, accessibility
and service availability that CSPs and their customers expect
today? And since 4G LTE does not operate in isolation, what
if you could manage your existing and next-generation technolo-
gies within a single solution, a single pane of glass?
Integrated management for 4G LTE
IBM® Netcool® solutions for 4G LTE provide multi-vendor,
multi-domain, multi-technology management across radio
access, backhaul and core networks. As your organization
transitions to 4G LTE, Netcool solutions can help you:
Manage the end-to-end availability and performance of
4G LTE networks—Gain visibility of the infrastructure
and how it supports service delivery by discovering LTE and
IP topologies and their underlying physical and logical
Enable seamless integration of 4G LTE and 2G/3G
legacy networks—Optimize network coverage, capacity and
quality by providing seamless mobility and inter-radio access
technology (RAT) handoffs between 2/3G and 4G.
Effectively manage quality of service across the entire
IP network—Gain the right level of visibility to understand
and assess quality of service and help ensure customer
Reduce operations complexity and management costs—
Identify the root cause of outages and performance problems
using advanced analytics. This helps increase operational
efficiency and speed the rollout of new services.
Unleashing the potential of 4G LTE
A new paradigm for networking data
Data storage and management are already major concerns for
CSPs using 3G networks, which generate terabytes of event data
that must be captured, stored and analyzed. Because the amount
of event data generated over 4G LTE networks is potentially
greater, the current model is not scalable and must evolve.
Netcool solutions provide a new, smarter model for event data
collection that gathers and analyzes only relevant data streams
instead of collecting everything.
Because Netcool solutions understand the topology of 4G LTE
and IP networks, you can diagnose and reduce the flood of
messages to aid in troubleshooting. IBM solutions can see the
dependencies and relationships among the myriad devices in a
LTE/SAE Monitoring Scope
System Architecture Evolution
Evolved Packet Core
3G – UTRAN
3G – Backhaul
End to End
IBM Netcool solutions manage the performance of the service provider communications network, including the LTE/eUTRAN, the IP backhaul/backbone, the
system architecture evolution/evolved packet core (SAE/EPC) and the end-to-end connectivity.
4G LTE environment, enabling you to discern which details
from this complex web really need to be tracked—and which
can be ignored. The result is an authoritative picture of your
4G LTE network and the IP network that supports it.
Netcool solutions take the management and monitoring of your
4G LTE network a step further with predictive analytics. This
automated capability reduces effort and costs by continuously
collecting and analyzing metrics about your network—including
the cause-and-effect relationships between devices on the
network—for rapid fault detection and remediation of the root
cause of performance problems.
Let’s examine some of the most significant operational chal-
lenges CSPs face with 4G LTE networks:
Constant connectivity. More than any other challenge,
communications service providers have made it clear that avoid-
ing connectivity issues is their biggest priority in preventing
customer churn, lost revenues and a damaged reputation. With
features such as trend analysis, topology-based event correlation,
retainability, accessibility and connection monitoring to better
understand connection failure conditions, Netcool solutions can
help CSPs maintain reliable connectivity.
Maximized throughput. As networks diversify and consumers
increasingly move toward data-intensive, web-based applications,
the possible points of failure become more numerous.
Maintaining a high peak rate and low latency is essential in
reducing service drops and delays. To accomplish this, network
operators must be able to manage network performance end to
end. Netcool solutions can monitor for bottlenecks at each node
and run capacity planning reports that enable you to adjust net-
work capacity as needed, helping you to better maintain service
Backward compatibility. Just as important as high network
performance for 4G LTE technology is the ability to ensure a
transparent user experience across 2G/3G technologies and
4G LTE. Inter-RAT handoffs are a key part of an LTE rollout,
as they help ensure success for service providers as far as back-
ward compatibility. Netcool solutions can help CSPs optimize
network coverage, capacity and quality by providing seamless
mobility and inter-domain performance validation to manage
service performance and the customer experience across the
service infrastructure, helping to ensure that all systems are
operating as expected.
Node health. Consistent, reliable network performance is
critical in reducing customer churn. Netcool solutions enable
you to monitor node metrics and even drill down to understand
how each node is affecting network performance, which helps
speed problem determination and resolution. In a diverse
communications network, performance degradations sometimes
originate within third-party nodes. Netcool solutions help net-
work operators ensure they are meeting service level agreements,
produce reports on third-party nodes and use eNodeB-sharing
to optimize network capacity and performance.
Performance monitoring. Understanding and monitoring key
performance indicators (KPIs) is critical as service providers
continually strive to meet internal and external service-level
commitments and goals. Yet the challenge here is to ensure
overall network health and quality in a multivendor and multi-
technology environment. Netcool solutions enable tracking
of both vendor-specific and vendor-neutral KPIs, so network
operators can more easily pinpoint—and more quickly repair—
the source of service performance issues.
Rapid problem resolution. Network operators already face sig-
nificant challenges in managing the complexity of IP networks
and the volume of events generated by them. This is further
complicated by the introduction of 4G LTE technologies. It’s
vital for network operations staff to quickly resolve problems
in a typically multi-vendor, multi-technology network. To
accomplish this, network operators must be able to prioritize
events and alarms and understand how they relate to the
4G LTE and IP network resources and relationships. Netcool
solutions help network operators to rapidly resolve problems
with extensive topology-aware event management and correla-
Unleashing the potential of 4G LTE
Netcool solutions enable integrated management of events, performance and configuration across your entire IT environment.
Fault and event
Discovery and data collection
As a result of all these operational challenges, CSPs are faced
with the critical need to lower the cost of managing their
multi-vendor, multi-domain networks. They must simplify,
consolidate and automate their IT management processes to
drive greater efficiency.
A 4G LTE solution to meet every need
More than 1,000 service providers have selected Netcool to
help ensure that their most critical services are performing to
the highest standards. In fact, IBM is a worldwide leader in the
CSP software market, including fault and event management
and performance monitoring.
IBM has made a substantial investment in understanding
4G LTE in order to model the service. The results are solutions
that are more than just a collection of metrics—IBM solutions
convey a deep understanding of how those metrics depend on
and relate to one another in making up the service. This helps
CSPs to collect key indicators more often for clear and quick
indications of overall service.
Here is a look at how IBM Netcool solutions can help organiza-
tions manage 4G LTE networks:
Netcool solutions provide network discovery monitoring and
event management for 4G LTE and IP network environments.
They increase availability and performance of critical business
services and infrastructure by providing a single, consolidated
view of a wide range of complex environments. Netcool software
can reduce the time typically required to resolve network
problems through enhanced network visualization and topology-
based root-cause analysis—improving network availability
and lowering operational costs. These solutions also provide
distinct visibility of the 4G LTE signaling and data paths and the
IP network, so IT staff can better manage the latest challenges
introduced by signaling storms.
When managing wired or wireless networks, Netcool solutions
deliver the visibility needed to help minimize service degrada-
tions, disruptions and troubleshooting time. In addition, the
solutions help reduce operational costs and boost efficiencies by
consolidating performance management systems and enabling
proactive problem identification. Key features include industry-
standard reporting with IBM Cognos® integration, rich
thresholding and customized event collection, and multi-tenancy
management for wired and wireless environments. Their distrib-
uted architecture enables easy scalability, and the browser-based
user interface means that no client installation is required.
With Netcool solutions, you can automate routine network
configuration management tasks, control network device access
and help ensure network policy compliance. Network operators
and administrators can enhance network security by controlling
access by users, devices and commands, and maintain reliable
access to the real-time state of the network.
Meet the 4G LTE challenges of today—
and tomorrow—with IBM
To remain successful in today’s marketplace, CSPs must main-
tain service performance while anticipating the next generation
of communications technology. Through an all-IP network,
4G LTE enables you to leverage better capacity and perfor-
mance, faster deployment of service offerings, and greater
scalability to enable a world of opportunities for increasing
CSPs that are in early trials and testing for 4G LTE technology
can look to IBM for the broadest portfolio of service assurance
solutions available and for depth of experience based on thou-
sands of customer engagements around the globe. 4G LTE
opens the door to increased customer satisfaction, additional
revenue streams, and a foothold in the highly competitive and
ever-evolving communications landscape.
For more information
To learn more about IBM Netcool solutions, contact your
IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit:
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