Wall Street Journal: Wringing Out More Capacity
The Wall Street Journal has published an article on Intucell’s SON technology. It explains how Intucell’s SON technology will help AT&T break traffic jams on their network as demand for mobile data increases.
Here is the full article:
Wireless Carriers Use Tricks to Ease Data-Traffic Jams, Including Multiple Antennas, Remote Controls
By Spencer E. Ante
With little new spectrum available for use in the near future, wireless carriers are coming up with new tricks to help break traffic jams on their networks as demand for mobile data surges.
Their methods involve various technologies for better managing data traffic such as video. They aren’t a substitute for building more high-speed fourth-generation networks and setting up more Wi-Fi hot spots, the telecommunications equivalents of new highways.
But they can help carriers squeeze more capacity out of their current networks, just as better traffic signals can allow older roads to handle more cars.
Verizon Wireless has developed software technology that cuts video traffic by transmitting only the parts of an image that change, said Anthony Melone, chief technology officer of Verizon Communications Inc., VZ +0.20% which co-owns the largest U.S. wireless carrier with Vodafone Group PLC. VOD +0.91%
“There are things that can be done that reduce the amount of bits without degrading quality the consumer can notice,” Mr. Melone said.
On its new fourth-generation network, Verizon Wireless also is applying a technique that involves the use of more than one antenna at the transmitter and phone. Called multiple input, multiple output, or MIMO, it pushes through more data without requiring more bandwidth or power.
“By using multiple antennas they allow you to squeeze more capacity out of airwave,” Mr. Melone said.
AT&T Inc., T +0.19% the No. 2 wireless carrier, is also introducing new antenna technologies. One effort involves working withIntucell Ltd., a start-up whose software automatically assists wireless coverage areas, or cells, that are overloaded.
Cellular systems work via towers that cover users within a given area. There is a trade-off between the size of the cell a wireless tower covers and the traffic it can handle. Intucell’s technology senses when a tower is overloaded and shrinks the cell, while instructing nearby towers to expand their cell size to help absorb the excess traffic. Likewise, the technology can tell when a cell isn’t working and automatically redirects traffic to the next-best site.
In a blog post last month, AT&T technology chief John Donovan said the carrier has seen a 15% reduction in overloading in field trials of the technology, as well as a 10% increase in speeds. AT&T, which began working with Intucell last April, expects to have the technology in place across its network by midyear.
The company also has stepped up investment in so-called distributed antenna systems, which use clusters of small radios attached to the tops of utility poles, traffic lights or cell towers. Such systems help operators better cover areas within and around buildings in dense urban areas than they could with a typical cell.
AT&T uses such technology in downtown Chicago now and is proposing to use it in Palo Alto, Calif. “We are putting hundreds of millions a year into this technology in urban areas mostly,” said Bill Hogg, AT&T senior vice president of network planning and engineering.
The antennas can be controlled remotely through software, which allows for a quicker response than dispatching a work crew, Mr. Hogg said. In the event of an accident on a stretch of highway, for example, AT&T can remotely tilt the antenna down to add more capacity in the immediate area.
Bytemobile Inc. also sells congestion solutions. Last year, it unveiled a combination of hardware and software that aims to keep videos moving smoothly over wireless networks.
The technology uses compressed video and tailors it to the device receiving it. It won’t route a high-definition video, for example, to a device that can’t handle HD video. The system already is in use at 43 carriers, said Bytemobile Chief Operating Officer Chris Koopmans.
At some point, however, wireless networks have their limits. AT&T recently said it would slow the data speeds of wireless subscribers on unlimited plans who exceed certain use thresholds. The carrier also recently put together a set of tools to tell developers of smartphone applications how efficiently their creations use data. Some developers have responded by tweaking their apps to make them more efficient, Mr. Hogg said.