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Mathematical tools and software models help to optimise heterogeneous networks

A major challenge to be addressed by 5G networks is delivering much higher capacity and resource efficiency together with low cost for network deployment. An EU initiative has met the challenge by exploring a promising technique.

Digital Economy

5G and beyond 5G mobile networks are driven by the exponential growth of the amount of data on mobile phones and other devices. To cost-efficiently deploy 5G, new network architecture and solutions are needed.

New know-how for mobile network planning and management

One promising solution is heterogeneous networks (HetNets) that integrate radio base stations of various types such as macrocells and small cells. The small cells offer great cost efficiency in offloading data requests from the macrocells and covering traffic hotspots. However, to “realise the potential of HetNets, research and development are necessary to optimise and manage its deployment,” says Di Yuan, coordinator of the EU-funded DECADE project. This research was undertaken with the support of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie programme. Project partners advanced both theory and practice of HetNet planning and optimisation. They developed new mathematical models to determine expected network performance and optimisation algorithms for various aspects of HetNets. This was done to characterise the potential of HetNets in comparison to conventional solutions. “Technically speaking, the most significant outcome is that HetNet optimisation has a clear impact on performance, and the advanced design of optimisation algorithms is necessary for practical tools in 5G deployment,” notes Yuan.

Planning and optimisation software for deploying HetNets

The DECADE team contributed to the development of Ranplan Professional, a 5G-ready commercial software tool for network planning. “We brought science closer to real-world end users of mobile communications,” states Yuan. It’s the world’s first HetNet planning tool supporting 5G New Radio – the global standard for a unified, more capable 5G wireless air interface. Designed for use by an ecosystem of telecom companies, Ranplan Professional allows customers to precisely and efficiently plan, design and optimise the next generation of indoor and outdoor mobile networks. It’s also the only 5G network planning tool for indoor and combined indoor-outdoor urban environments. “The designed network performance can be evaluated before real deployment, significantly saving time in planning a new network,” explains Yuan. “The traditional way of network planning requires further optimisation, and many parameters need to be retested after the network is deployed.” However, Ranplan Professional enables users to easily modify the designed mobile network – antenna location or antenna parameters – in meeting performance requirements. “We anticipate that Ranplan Professional will gain an increasing amount of interest from target markets, particularly network operators and other organisations that need automated network planning for 5G and beyond,” says Yuan. Team members successfully implemented Ranplan Professional and one of its intelligent network design optimisation tools in Paris’ city centre. Network optimisation in this dense urban setting was performed with less manual work. “Through many high-quality publications and a practical software tool for the industrial 5G sector, DECADE has contributed to new knowledge on how to optimise HetNets,” concludes Yuan. “We have advanced the state of the art in designing and deploying innovative networking solutions.”

Keywords

DECADE, 5G, HetNets, optimisation, Ranplan Professional, mobile network, heterogeneous networks, 5G network

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