The Story of MOMENTUM, a story about planning and QoS control in UMTS radio networks

Erik Fledderus

When in May 2003 TNO Telecom as an new institute of the Dutch Research and Technology Organisation TNO was launched, I was asked to tell "the story of Momentum". Actually, it was about building the future together, and Momentum served as a leading example.
One of the key figures that was used to explain and illustrate the story is found below. [fig 1] It shows the technology development curve, as used by Gartner. With the start of the Momentum consortium, end 1999/early 2000, UMTS was definitely in a hype phase. The original proposal underlying Momentum received comments, indicating that "everything was well established": design of UMTS radio networks was understood. We thought otherwise, and because we did not observe many true innovations in the field of optimising and evaluating UMTS network design, we re-organised the proposal. In its new and current form, it focused on

Service characterisation and user mobility
Especially this last aspect has become very urgent, now operators are confronted with complex planning tools that need all sorts of input to fully describe a whole set of services, services where not characterised before, even not on the fixed line network!

Enhanced static network evaluation
Most commercial planning tools make use of the so-called snapshot or Monte-Carlo simulation method. Its accuracy with respect to key performance indicators has not been established for complex networks with many sources of variability such as UMTS radio networks. In addition, management of resources within UMTS gets more and more real-time and dynamic; this trend is actually a real challenge for static evaluation methods. To that end, the 3rd focal point was

High-resolution network simulation
This would enable the consortium to compare the evalution of a "close-to-reality" network with a static network evaluation, including the modelling of real-time mechanisms in a "static" environment. On the other hand, this ambition required the use of and innovations in parallel computing.

Automatic network tuning / optimisation
Optimisation of 2G networks like GSM consists of mainly two parts: frequency planning, which is done at almost all operators automatically, and the rest, including base station planning (position, height, tilt, sector orientation). The latter part is usually done by the RF planner, based on experience and local knowledge. Our aim was to change this for UMTS, and to assist the RF planner in the new situation with a "tool box" that helped him to optimise the UMTS radio network design.

We all know that 2002 was a difficult year for many if not most players in the telecoms industry, and it did not end yet. In terms of the technology development curve one could argue that UMTS had passed "the peak of inflated expectations" and had arrived in the phase of partial disillusionment. This had of course its effect on the Momentum project, but most of all where we had expected to have real-life results at our disposal during the second half of the project we "suddenly" were confronted with a lack of "reality check". It made the job harder, but not impossible.
Finally, the outlook is much sunnier: insights, toolboxes and simulators are being or about to be used in the operations, so speed up the learning curve at operators, but also to generate scientific results based on very realistic input data! I want to invite you to browse through our current results, and join our Final Workshop on August 30, 2003, in Berlin - jointly organised with the ITC 2003.


Back to top