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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Individual bandwidth management based on radio conditions

Interesting comment from a Danish WiMAX operator I heard at an event yesterday - they actually decide on application throttling / bandwidth management based on individual users' radio channel conditions.

The logic is that if you're in a strong signal area, the modulation is such that you need a smaller % of total base station capacity, compared to a user at the edge of the cell, trying to pull down the same amount of bandwidth.

In other words, they're basing policy decisions on actual capacity & resource usage, not using data transfer rates as a proxy.

Presumably, this needs some sort of realtime API into the air interface part of the network - exactly the sort of thing I had in mind a couple of weeks ago when I asked the LTE folk about programmable networks.


Sami said...

Hi Dean,
Your blogs are often thought provoking, which is obviously is good.

In this particular blog it lead me thinking that the Danish WiMAX operator comes from internet world and assumes cellular networks operate much like an extended network of WLAN nodes. If true, then it would be understandable that they'd be unaware of functions provided by Radio Resource Management, which has been implemented (in various degrees) in all cellular networks. In WCDMA RRM function is in the Radio Network Controller (RNC) and in HSPA split between NodeB (base station) and RNC - e.g. Wikipedia gives an overview in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_Resource_Management

"bandwidth management based on individual users' radio channel conditions" mentioned above can be thought to be a combination of Link Adaptation and Channel dependent scheduling, also mentioned in the Wiki page above. For a cellular guy, these are part of the basis on which the radio network is built on. Further, it makes me wonder if something really could be gained if it would be done individually buy multiple applications in multiple devices simultaneously.

Dean Bubley said...

Hi Sami

Thanks for this.

I agree that it sounds similar to RRM - but to my knowledge, the RRM in cellular networks does not have any easy form of integration with billing, policy management etc.

Is it possible to say "throttle someone's YouTube if they're at the edge of the cell, but let it run freely if they've got good signal"?


Simon Saunders said...


What you've described sounds exactly like 'proportional fair' resource scheduling, which is one of the commonly studied methods of allocating resources within standard WiMAX and/or LTE resource scheduling. The actual algorithms used are up to the vendor/operator, but no new 'hooks' are needed for this in either system.