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Carriers need efficient ways to scale infrastructure and ease congestion amid explosive mobile network traffic growth

Rapid adoption of smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices is driving explosive growth of mobile network traffic. Network-intensive applications such as Internet access and mobile cloud services, always-on applications such as instant messaging and location services, and video services including Amazon, Netflix and YouTube account for much of the traffic growth. The latest Cisco® VNI Mobile forecast estimates a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of almost 66% from 2012 through 2017. Video alone accounted for more than 50% of all mobile traffic for the first time in 2011 and is expected to represent more than 70% of mobile network traffic by 2016.


 

HetNet ROI


 

Peaks in mobile usage can congest the network, leading to problems including dropped calls and lower data rates that slow web browsing and the rendering of bandwidth-intensive video. To scale their infrastructures to support rapid network traffic growth and help ease congestion, carriers are investing in an intelligent network infrastructure with 4G/LTE wireless technology and heterogeneous networks (HetNet).

Fast 4G/LTE and HetNet expansion delivers bandwidth needed for mobile devices

4G wireless networks based on LTE are seeing fast expansion as carriers work to provide the bandwidth users need for the latest smart phones and tablets. The GSA (Global mobile Suppliers Association) forecasts the number of commercial LTE networks worldwide will grow to 260 in 93 countries by 2014, an increase of 211 networks and 64 countries since the start of 2012. The association also reports that nearly 450 mobile network operators worldwide are investing in LTE, compared to 285 at the start of 2012.

Carriers are deploying a mix of small and large base stations to ensure adequate coverage and capacity and to provide the best return on investment. Macro cells support large numbers of users over wide geographic areas. Small cells support 16 to a few hundred users in specific market sectors and locales including residential (previously called femtocells), enterprise, public and rural. To help ease mobile network congestion and reduce data services costs for end users, some operators provide Wi-Fi offload as a high-bandwidth alternative to LTE in enclosed environments.

The current wireless infrastructure must support various wireless bands. For example, many base stations manage both 4G LTE and legacy 2G and 3G connections. Some base stations also support LTE-Advanced features such as carrier aggregation that allows carriers to use multiple bands for a single LTE connection.

HetNet base stations

HetNet base stations are built around one or more multicore processors that handle backhaul aggregation and transport, system management, and exception and control plane functions. Base stations are connected to the packet core network through 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE), Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) or legacy T1/E1/J1 links.

HetNet base station diagram

The latest base stations include multi-radio support for LTE and 2G/3G networks, and transport and aggregation functions that integrate high-speed switching, L2 and L3 quality of service (QoS), carrier-class aggregation and multi-level hierarchical scheduling.


Multicore processor solution

The LSI® Axxia® AXM5500 multicore processor provides both macro and small base stations with a cost-effective solution for addressing mobile network bandwidth demands and helps provide predictable, reliable performance to ease congestion. The family of devices integrates power-efficient ARM® processors, high-capacity Ethernet switching and hardware acceleration for security, traffic management and packet processing functions. LSI provides a complete software development kit with production software for base station applications, reducing time to market for new systems. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​