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New generation technologies can not work in isolation. They need to work in harmony with other technologies, especially with the existing ones, when it comes to IT platforms. Otherwise, an IT infrastructure overhaul would be impossible or an extremely costly affair. So, when it comes to LTE, like any technology before it, will not happen in a vacuum. At first it will be introduced in high density areas and will be supplemented by existing mobile data technologies like 3G, says Accanto Systems.


In order to guarantee a seamless user experience, it will have to interwork from day one with other network technologies. Most network operators are running environments that comprises many interconnected technology types. Indeed, the term ‘forklift upgrade’ is by and large a remnant of the very ‘rosy’ days of 1990’s. Today operators are forced to be realistic about using their existing technologies to the best of their abilities.


They want to make sure they are able to seamlessly interoperate with new technology investments, such as LTE, Accanto explains. Traditionally, major Telco upgrades occur every 10 years or so, such as 2G (1990's) to 3G (2000's) to LTE (2010).



However, rather than becoming a simple process, there is an expectation that the operator continues to support legacy devices. This expectation is driven by market forces, rather than the operator itself. For example, there is still a significant market for entry level 2G mobile phones today.


Cautious operators will roll out next generation LTE services in concentrated urban area initially. The ROI on the technology investment in these areas will occur sooner, rather than later. As long as technology investments adhere to a standards association body such as the 3GPP, interoperability should be possible.


This means that a data session which started as a high speed LTE transfer, should be able to fall back to 3G packet switched, when coverage starts to deteriorate.And, finally to a 2G/2.5G connection, should that connection fail, preserving the session. However, although the standards exist, coverage, interconnections and other factors often mean that this is not always possible.        


If a monitoring strategy is missing a piece of the LTE puzzle, the operator will miss part of the end to end user experience. At the same time, operators need tools that can effectively cover all of these technologies, avoiding duplication in functionality, and most of all double probing of the same interfaces, according to the vendor.


For operators who have just deployed LTE networks in a few key areas, service adoption will be initially quite low. Operators will be reluctant to invest heavily on 3rd party monitoring tools during these initial deployments since the contention ratios, (subscriber to available resources) will be quite low. The driver behind mass adoption of LTE monitoring tools will be the emerging all IP VoLTE standard. Once new all IP handsets start appearing, the dynamics of monitoring tools being a 'nice to have' to become a necessity will be realised.

By Angela Sutherland.

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