How specialists in planning and optimizing cellular networks work in Russia

I continue to talk about the work of people who create and maintain a mobile network. Last time we met with the profession of a cellular network engineer. These specialists are engaged in the maintenance of tower equipment and make sure that the signal is strong and the Internet is fast every day.

Today we will find out what planners and optimizers of cellular networks do. To do this, I talked with senior experts of the MTS network planning and optimization center in the Moscow region Pavel Berezin and Vladimir Filatov.

Planning and optimization of cellular networks are inextricably linked, so the interaction between specialists in these areas is always close.

What does a cellular network planner do?

In short, it is engaged in forecasting and optimizing coverage, calculating capacity and determining locations that are most suitable for installing base stations. All in order to ensure high quality communication in a particular location.

All operators have indicators of communication quality, such as data transfer rate, quality of voice services, number of interruptions, etc. The task of the planner is to simulate a network in a specific location for a given number of subscribers with a certain level of quality.

It all starts with reconnaissance of the zone on which you want to organize communications. The planner studies the size of the territory, its topography, development, the number of subscribers, and the services that should be provided to them.

Placing base stations on the ground, the planner, using special programs, can evaluate how well his solution will meet the requirements. In addition, it analyzes statistics on the surrounding territories: how busy the nearest base stations are, whether additional bands are required to redistribute the load from neighboring stations and “pull up” the communication quality indicators in problem areas.

What does a cellular network optimizer do?

If the scheduler plans what is not yet available, then the optimizer optimizes what is already there. Optimization requires feedback, large amounts of up-to-date data, measurement results.

It is always a process of trial and error, the result of an analysis of fresh statistics, traffic movements, as well as various experiments, where without them.

For example, the introduction of new technologies into existing standards, the addition of additional frequency aggregation, modulation, coding scheme, MIMO order – everything that is aimed at increasing the capacity and efficiency of an existing network. The optimizer must keep up with the times and constantly analyze the results of his actions.

– Pavel Berezin, MTS senior expert

The optimizer works with the software of network elements, that is, base stations. There are tens of thousands of them, and it is impossible to work with each individual system element. SON (Self-Optimizing Network) systems come to the rescue. Such a system takes care of routine operations: prescribing neighboring base stations so that they can interact with each other, adjusting power, tilt angles, etc.

Before the advent of specialized software, optimizers performed most of the network settings manually for each station or for a small group of stations. Now they are more likely to set up software and special scripts, which, in turn, allow you to set up a network in entire regions.

Without the use of automated systems, it is simply impossible to work with today’s network volume, especially in such complex locations as Moscow – there are not enough hands and eyes to keep track of everything.

Optimization helps to tune the network to changing external conditions: for example, change the angles of the antennas and thereby reduce the coverage area in one sector and increase it in another, or balance the traffic with parametric models. When the optimizer has exhausted its capabilities, the schedulers are connected again.

– Vladimir Filatov, MTS senior expert

Where do network planners and optimizers work?

Mostly in the office. There I talked with the interviewees, the photo is also from there.

Many tasks can be solved remotely: there are digital terrain models, information resources, software for modeling network coverage. There are situations when trips are necessary, for example, to complex facilities, mass events, sports facilities, crowded places.

Our team also has a group of radio measurements. Here they, as a rule, work “in the fields”, where, with the help of specialized complexes, they more accurately measure the quality characteristics of the network. These results are processed using other specialized software and in the already processed form are sent to planners and optimizers for additional study, analysis and adjustment of technical solutions.

We work as a single team: planning, optimization and radio measurements. None of these three groups can be excluded from the overall process of building and developing a network.

– Pavel Berezin, MTS senior expert

What are the difficulties in the work of network planners and optimizers?

Complex tasks are, as a rule, situations with a large congestion of subscribers in one location. When tens of thousands of people gather in one place, very large traffic is generated, and base stations, which on ordinary days can easily cope with traffic, begin to “suffocate”, and subscribers’ speeds decrease.

Preparations for the World Cup in 2018 were a serious challenge, when MTS provided communications at the Luzhniki Stadium, at the Spartak Stadium, at the Otkritie Arena site. Both planners and optimizers had to go there many times, assess the situation on the spot, and then simulate decisions in the office.

The organization of communication in the fan zone on Sparrow Hills turned out to be especially difficult then, when the decision had to be issued very quickly: the number of viewers exceeded the forecasts several times.

We were there day and night, observing how the structures were being assembled, and thinking about where we could place additional equipment.

As a result, the antennas were built into the housings of large screens that were installed in the fan zone. We deployed an additional 4 base stations, modernized the existing one, improved the distribution of subscribers between them. Plus, mobile base stations were installed – such trailers with antennas to quickly increase capacity in a specific area. As a result, the network planning cycle, which usually takes a couple of months, was completed in two days.

– Vladimir Filatov, MTS senior expert

Approximately 50% of the time, optimizers deal with network problems such as slow speeds, traffic congestion, and so on. This work is like daily cleaning – routine and to some extent endless. But it makes it possible to significantly improve the quality of the network in the most problematic areas.

What are the requirements for network planners and optimizers?

The planning and optimization division is the “think tank” of the technical unit. Therefore, the requirements for candidates are high:

First of all, you need an analytical mindset, critical and systemic thinking – the ability to see various objects and processes as a whole.

Sociability is important, because the planning and optimization center is involved in many company processes and you need to communicate a lot with other departments. We interact with business, marketing, network development and operation departments. Given the information flow and the volume of priority tasks, stress resistance is also critical.

It is also important to constantly learn, because technology develops. At the same time, there are many related areas in our work – for example, working with databases, software systems, etc.

– Vladimir Filatov, MTS senior expert

Planners need to be creative. There are always several options for technical solutions, among them you need to find the most effective from the construction, technical and economic points of view.

Most often, graduates of MTUCI and Bauman University come to work as planners and optimizers. But the university or specialty is not the main thing:

A profile specialty is not required to enter the profession. Yes, here you need a technical education, preferably in the field of communications or IT. But it is even more important to be able to process information and interpret it correctly.

– Pavel Berezin, MTS senior expert

As my interlocutors say, in the MTS planning and optimization center there is no atmosphere of a typical “physico” when only men work in the team. Women now make up about 20% of the staff of the unit and do an excellent job.

You can learn more about the requirements on the MTS vacancies website. Here vacancy example for the position of an optimizer in Krasnodar.

Source: — Новости высоких технологий, обзоры смартфонов, презентации Apple by

*The article has been translated based on the content of — Новости высоких технологий, обзоры смартфонов, презентации Apple by If there is any problem regarding the content, copyright, please leave a report below the article. We will try to process as quickly as possible to protect the rights of the author. Thank you very much!

*We just want readers to access information more quickly and easily with other multilingual content, instead of information only available in a certain language.

*We always respect the copyright of the content of the author and always include the original link of the source article.If the author disagrees, just leave the report below the article, the article will be edited or deleted at the request of the author. Thanks very much! Best regards!