SK Telecom trials NSN's Liquid Applications
Part of Korean carrier's Service Aware RAN project, but it also shows off future developments with Ericsson
Published: 5 March, 2013
SK Telecom is evaluating the latest element in NSN's 'Liquid' portfolio for modern, flexible networks - Liquid Applications, which aims to support personalization by turning base stations in to local hubs for service delivery, close to the end user. Under a memorandum of understanding signed at MWC, the Korean cellco will put NSN's Radio Applications Cloud Server (RACS), which enables Liquid Applications, in the first half of 2013.
Liquid Applications fits a general trend to place more intelligence and content at the edge of the network, as seen in innovations like the Intel/Ubiquisys Smart Cell and Samsung's Smart LTE. NSN's platform exposes applications and services to real time network data to improve service quality and targeting. Marc Rouanne, head of mobile broadband at the vendor, said it "redefines the role of the base station and will transform the mobile broadband experience. The beauty of Liquid Applications is in the simplicity of using information that has always been there in the network, to fundamentally change the definition of personalized service and shatter forever the perception of the network as 'just a bitpipe'."
As in many markets, the vendor is pushing the flexibility of its Liquid network to promise operators a system that can adapt to changing requirements and traffic patterns on a constant basis - and hoping that will help it make up for a relatively slow start in conventional 4G RAN sales.
SK Telecom will be the first operator to test Liquid Applications in an LTE environment, as part of its Service Aware RAN project. Service-Aware RAN aims to inject significant intelligence at the edge of the network to deliver customized services and increase the value to users and content partners.
"Telecom providers are realizing that optimized transmission of data alone can no longer guarantee success in the market," said Dr Choi Jin-sung, head of SK Telecom's ICT R&D division, while Jarmo Häkkinen, head of mobile broadband value creation at NSN, added: "Liquid Applications will stimulate mutual cooperation between the operator and various ecosystem players, resulting in development and delivery of innovative applications and services. This will help SK Telecom to generate revenue from new business models, new services and new applications."
NSN had to share the SK Telecom limelight with its fellow RAN suppliers however. Both Samsung and Ericsson were showing off the advances they were delivering to their star Asian customer, and the Swedish giant signed an MOU of its own, for cooperation on LTE-Advanced, and particularly a technology called SuperCell 1.0. The collaboration will focus in particular on small cells and the two companies demonstrated LTE-A SuperCell 1.0 - designed to almost eliminates inter-cell boundaries and make groups of small and macro base stations act as a single cell by allocating identical cell IDs. This removes the need for handover, supporting faster data rates even at the edge and a more seamless user experience. SK Telecom plans to apply SuperCell 1.0 to its LTE-A network in the second half of this year.