AT&T is using new technology to create an intuitive, “living” network as it seeks innovative ways to boost data speeds and reduce spectrum strain.
The second-largest national carrier is using self-optimizing network technology from Intucell to make its network more responsive and increase capacity. The move marks one way AT&T can gain spectrum and boost speeds on its network since its merger with T-Mobile fell through late last year. As part of the breakup deal, AT&T gave spectrum to T-Mobile, diminishing its supply.
The carrier is now looking to acquire spectrum from smaller networks, trying to fortify its network without getting hung up in regulatory delays.
Intucell’s technology presents another solution, giving AT&T a way to forge ahead and stay competitive without engaging in an expensive infrastructure build-outs or entering into more spectrum-buying deals that need regulatory approval.
Using Intucell, AT&T’s 4G cells will gain awareness of traffic and bandwidth across the entire network, allowing cells to expand and contract to meet changing needs as subscribers do different activities and change locations.
Intucell uses self-optimizing network technology, or SON, to track network health and congestion levels, GigaOm explains. Then, it adjusts each cell in the network to give the best possible coverage and capacity. Cells can also expand to fill network holes and relieve bottlenecks, then contract back to regular capacity, creating a “self-healing” network.
By incorporating SON, AT&T will better guarantee an ideal network experience for each subscriber, and protect them from slow data speeds, outages or dropped calls during times of heavy usage and maxed-out capacity.
Intucell is an Israel startup. Israeli wireless operator Pelephone already deployed it in its home country, and other trials are underway there. AT&T is the first U.S. carrier to deploy Intucell in its search for innovative ways to reduce the spectrum strain currently plaguing all wireless carriers.
All carriers are scrambling to acquire spectrum and depend on government-backed auctions and other solutions to help keep data flowing smoothly.
Intucell’s technology makes better use of the spectrum already available, increasing a network’s capacity without actually adding more bandwidth, potentially taking the race for a faster, more comprehensive wireless network in an entirely new direction.
According to Intucell CEO Rani Wellingstein, the technology can cut cell congestion from 10 to 40 percent, “allowing operators to pack more capacity onto less infrastructure,” according to GigaOm.
As subscribers demand more from their data-hungry devices and tax carrier spectrum, AT&T could find itself on the forefront of new solutions for reducing the crunch by getting creative with the spectrum it already as, as well as ramping up efforts to secure more.