Capacity on-demand and how to deliver it

By Mika Skarp

Mobile World Congress 2016 will be all about 5G and 5G promises to deliver more than just more capacity. If 5G is to truly deliver it must provide capacity on-demand. This is clear, but what do you actually need to have in place to make it happen?

The starting point for the delivery of predefined capacity from any IP-network is a set of baseline Quality of Service features. Essentially you need to be able to differentiate bits, based on the QoS class to which they belong. The QoS class can be defined automatically using DPI technology or by triggering it from outside of network using OSS. This is the same in fixed and mobile networks.

When QoS features are in place in the network, you need to make sure you do not provision for more traffic than you have capacity. In a fixed network this is pretty simple because there is a limited and determined number of ports connected to a single cable whose capacity is already known. As such, you can easily calculate how much spare capacity you have so as to determine if any given request at any given time can be fulfilled. When connection lead time is several days, as it is today today, these calculations can be done even manually. In its Third Network concept, MEF has turned this into an automated process.

In mobile networks, understanding capacity is a tricky business because handsets are in a constant state of flux whereby no static reservation can be made. Cell load can be measured, but even real-time measurement for every base station provides no guarantees. Traffic can be limited based on DPI, but no SLA can be given. This challenge has been the source of a great deal of discussion and debate and many novel approaches are coming to the fore.

It's our belief that the very best way to solve the problem is through the introduction of dynamic profiles within the mobile network to allow users capacity needs to be communicated and served in real time. Cloudstreet has developed its core solution around precisely this ability. The Dynamic Profile Controller (DPC) turns the user profile into a new network capacity planning tool. As each user may have different needs from one moment to the next, each carries multiple profiles that may be switched on-the-fly to serve their requirements. As profiles enter, leave and switch within a cell, the DPC will be aware of the total capacity requirements at any one time and if it may be able to serve additional users with special profiles. Of course any cell may reach its maximum capacity, but in this scenario the DPC would be configured based on a desired load profile. When approaching its guaranteed QoS limited, it would restrict new network entrants to only those profiles where Best Effort is allowed. This gives mobile operators full freedom to serve different use cases flexibly.

But the DPC alone is not enough. This is because radio coverage is not equal in the cell. To be able to deliver guaranteed QoS we need to make sure RF-level mobile devices are suitable for expected QoS. This means that before a mobile device is allowed to make a profile change request its RF-level would need to be checked and verified.

As we head into what promises to be a fascinating gathering in Barcelona for MWC 2016, we invite our readers and interested parties to join us at the Finland Pavilion in Hall 1 at the show. We'll be on hand throughout the congress to demonstrate Cloudstreet and provide details on how it works and how it being implemented today. We hope you can join us.