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IP, Ethernet Can Help Mobile Operators Cut Costs, Keep Service Levels

The report recommends operators select a support system solution that adheres to Metro Ethernet Forum standards

Mobile network operators who use Internet protocol (IP)-based radio access and Ethernet technologies can scale up their networks and support traffic growth, says a report by Analysys Mason, an analyst and consultant focused on the telecom, media and technology industries.

The growth in mobile data services has pressured mobile operators to control backhaul costs while maintaining service quality, says the report, Assuring Mobile Backhaul Networks.

Key considerations for mobile operators when evaluating suppliers for backhaul solutions include the deployment cost of the hardware, the potential integration of multi-vendor solutions and end-to-end management of the technology, the report says. Another principal factor is the service cycle required to manage and maintain the backhaul network until the next technology upgrade cycle, the document adds.

The report recommends that operators select an operation support system solution that adheres to Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) standards. The MEF says it is a global industry alliance seeking to accelerate the worldwide adoption of carrier-class Ethernet networks and services.

“Some equipment vendors, in an effort to move products onto the market quickly, will implement proprietary management solutions for discovery and fault monitoring,” says Patrick Kelly, Analysys Mason’s Telecoms Software research stream’s research director and lead author of the report. “This type of implementation actually prevents effective scaling and increases the operational cost for mobile operators,” he says.

Operators can mitigate that risk by selecting vendors that support MEF-backed standards, and that network equipment vendors should also look to implement quality-of-service measurement capabilities at network interconnect points, thereby removing the need for network interface devices, the report says.

The most important factor for mobile operators when they are making investment decisions in that area is the total cost of ownership of the IP/multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) backhaul network and the operational expenditure (opex) for assuring service, the report says. Operators who have standardized their network equipment and management systems to be able to scale effectively with rapidly growing networks have benefited the most in that area.

“A key challenge for mobile operators is how to assure service over backhaul networks,” Kelly says. “For this reason, a lot of operators are resorting to policy management and control solutions for network protection,” he adds.