Report: SON market gaining 3G momentum, will reach $5B by 2017

The need for self-organizing networks (SON) continues to grow and is being extended from LTE networks to 3G networks, according to market research firm Infonetics. The firm said that in a large majority of cases, 3G network optimization, rather than LTE alone, is already the key driver for using SON.

Though SON is generally associated with LTE, more than 80 percent of mobile operators worldwide are using SON for 3G/HSPA/HSPA+ optimization, Infonetics said.

"Self-organizing networks (SON) remain baked in LTE, but as an evolutionary 3GGP technology, SON will continue to evolve, offering more and more advanced features. So deploying SON for 3G optimization--with the zero-touch network as the long-term goal--is something that's natural and logical for many operators," said Stephane Teral, Infonetics principal analyst for mobile infrastructure and carrier economics.

However, Teral said drive testing will continue to be a largely manual task requiring human intervention for the time being. "Our discussions with large mobile operators confirm there's no way to replace today's rudimentary technique of having a crew cruising a neighborhood in a truck to measure what's going on," he said.

According to Infonetics, the market for SON and optimization software is on track to grow 13 percent this year, after having expanded by 17 percent in 2012. Infonetics forecasts optimization and SON software to grow to nearly $5 billion by 2017. Major deployments at AT&T (NYSE:T) and KDDI in Japan have helped drive the market.

ABI Research recently forecast that mobile monitoring and optimization equipment revenue will increase to more than $9 billion by 2018. The firm said that among leading mobile network equipment providers, Nokia (NYSE:NOK) Solutions and Networks has an edge over its competitors with its intelligent SON automation and early field deployments across 3G and 4G. 

For more:
- see this Infonetics release
- see this ABI Research release

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