By Ben Bannister, Product Marketing Director
As LTE will co-exist with other access technologies for several years, we will also have to accept that network data congestion issues are likely to be significant in a multiple network topography. It is likely that, Wi-Fi and small cell offload options will be needed to supplement the radio network and make existing 3G and LTE networks more viable. Session continuity when moving between cellular and Wi-Fi networks will be vital. MNOs will need to find ways to manage technology inter-operability as well as inter-standard roaming in order to ensure both optimal network utilization as well as a seamless customer user experience. They will need to be able to deliver a seamless user experience across multiple network types (GSM, CDMA, Wi-Fi) and different technology generations (2.5G, 3G, 4G).
In a multi-technology environment transparent pricing needs to be complemented by convenience and ease of use to ensure that subscribers do not have to re-activate services during a user session, when moving from licensed to unlicensed network access. This calls for seamless handover between on-net and off-net (Wi-Fi) traffic, ensuring that issues of user authentication and authorization do not detract from a seamless user experience. In a roaming context this also means a seamless handover between GSM and Wi-Fi, or between GSM and CDMA, dependent upon network availability and access choice. This requirement for inter-standard roaming reflects the broader LTE requirement for seamless inter-operability across multiple network technology options whether in a roaming or a domestic environment.
The promise of LTE is accompanied by a need to appreciate the issues associated with managing a multiple network technology environment and the ways in which to optimize such an environment. LTE is still at a relatively early phase in the adoption cycle, but certain key issues have already emerged, including the need to support a mix of technologies for several years to come. In the wholesale environment, there is a need to focus on accurate wholesale revenue assurance, complex settlement and content partner management processes and an evolving roaming environment, to ensure that seamless service provision for subscribers, via automated technology inter-operability, is supported by seamless settlement processes for all the partners in the LTE value chain.