Author: Max Posthuma de Boer, VP Innovations at Group 2000
How advanced mobile network capacity management benefits society
Mobile telephony and data transfer are indispensable in society, not just residents, but entire industries nowadays depend on the correct, thus unperturbed, functioning of telecom networks. Failure of these networks due to calamities or targeted cyber-attacks can have major social disruption and economic consequences and harms the confidence of citizens, businesses, and governments in the vital (cyber) infrastructure. Uninterrupted access to 112/911 can therefore no longer be guaranteed in such situations. With great personal and social consequences.
In case of calamities and large-scale events, cell towers are quickly overloaded. Neighboring cell towers try to cope with the capacity shortage, which also overloads them. Due to this domino effect, the entire mobile network can be impacted by a local incident.
This took place, for example, during the attacks of 22 March 2016 in Brussels. Due to the overloading of a small number of cell towers, the entire Belgian telephone network was affected and the crisis center was temporarily unavailable.
The fire in the Dutch Vodafone data center of 4 April 2012 could also be considered, which resulted that even the entire Dutch cabinet was unavailable for a number of days.
These recent calamities have shown that the telecommunications network is highly susceptible to overload in unexpected situations and that the consequences of this overload after the cause has been removed often last long.
In addition to calamities, cyber-attacks can also have a major impact on the availability of the mobile network. By (DDOS) attacks on the mobile infrastructure, it is relatively easy to overload a part of the network and thus creates a domino effect that affects the entire network.
Failure of the mobile infrastructure has an impact on the access to the emergency services 112 / 911. After all, about 93% of the 112 calls in the Netherlands take place via the mobile phone. The unavailability of the 112 service might have potentially fatal consequences. The expectation is that other countries will have similar numbers. Despite the fact that the legislator has legally stipulated that telecom providers must make provisions that are necessary to guarantee uninterrupted access to 112 / 911, in practice, it appears that the uninterrupted access to 112 / 911 could not be guaranteed.
The consequences of national outages of a mobile network as a result of a regional overload situation and the subsequent domino effect on the mobile network, such as in Belgium after the attacks in Zaventem, not only resulted in the unavailability of the national crisis center, but also took away the ability of citizens to do 112 emergency notifications. The sharing of experiences, compassion by citizens through the usual means (social media) was also greatly reduced. This situation has irrevocably impacted the citizen’s confidence in the mobile (critical) infrastructure.
Implementing a solution which ensures a higher availability of the mobile critical infrastructure, either through providing a faster recovery after a failure or which could detect and reduce the impact of a disruption, prevent the domino effect, would not only greatly benefit mobile operators, but more importantly also our society.
Environmental and health benefits
Cell towers are a fundamental part of each mobile network. Placement of these cell towers is subject to permits and acceptance of society. The arguments against expansion or placement of new cell towers are often: landscape pollution, extra radiation, and environmental impact. Often valid arguments, but in decision making these arguments often outweigh the advantages of a readily accessible mobile network. Nevertheless, a technology that reduces the need for extra placement of cell towers will have an ecologically positive impact. Implementing advanced capacity management tooling within the mobile network of a telecom operator would result less need to over-dimension their mobile network infrastructure and therefore fewer cell towers and fewer possible negative effects.
The implementation of LIMA Network Protect not only contributes to the resilience of the mobile network and the resilience of the society, but it also reduces the possible environmental and health impact of the placement of cell towers.
LIMA Network Protect
LIMA Network Protect ensures higher availability of the mobile critical infrastructure, through ensuring a faster recovery after failure. LIMA Network Protect can provide a clear picture of the disruption through the built-in dashboard so that those responsible can act more efficiently. It will make the inherently vulnerable telecom network more robust without drastic changes to the network and would reduce the need for planned overcapacity of the mobile network, resulting in environmental and health benefits.