Network Characterization using Active Measurements for Small Cell Networks

University essay from KTH/Radio Systems Laboratory (RS Lab)


Due to the rapid growth of mobile networks, network operators need to expand their coverage and capacity. Addressing these two needs is challenging.

One factor is the requirement for cost-efficient transport via heterogeneous networks. In order to achieve this goal, Internet connectivity is considered a cost-efficient transport option by many operators for small cell backhaul.

This thesis project investigates if a small cell network's requirements can be fulfilled by utilizing Internet connectivity for backhaul. In order to answer this question several measurements have been made to assess different aspect of live networks and compare them with the network operator's requirements. Different measurement protocols are utilized to evaluate some of the key network characteristics, such as throughput, jitter, packet loss, and delay. These measurement protocols are described in this thesis. Moreover, improving the bandwidth available in real-time (BART) measurement method was one of the main achievements of this thesis project.

Evaluation of the measurement results indicates that fiber based access together with Internet connectivity would be the best and cheapest solution as a backhaul for small cell network in comparison with almost all of the other types of broadband access technologies. It should be noted that asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) and cable- TV access networks proved to be unable to meet the requirements for small cell backhaul.

This project gives a clear picture of the current broadband access network infrastructure's attributes and highlights the possibility of reducing backhaul costs by using broadband Internet connectivity as a backhaul transport option.

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