Directions for future cellular mobile network architecture

  • Byoung-Jo J. Kim AT&T Labs-Research
  • Paul S. Henry AT&T Labs-Research
Keywords: cellular network, mobile communications


Despite the extraordinary success of the cellular mobile telecommunications industry, many of the underlying design strategies and service assumptions that have served us arguably well over the past four decades may benefit from a fresh new look. Even today’s LTE (Long–Term Evolution), which is designed to meet the demands of modern broadband Internet packet connectivity, nonetheless draws heavily on the legacy of cellular’s circuit–oriented origins. Its heavy reliance on fine–grained tunnels and hard–state signaling protocols, for example, imposes performance penalties and cost burdens that may not be inevitable if hard–earned lessons are incorporated in the coming years. In this paper we describe a fresh approach to cellular network architecture. Inspired by past and present ideas and experiences by others and ours, we propose fundamental principles to guide the development of efficient and flexible network architecture, able to serve the still unknown needs and preferences of future users. We offer an example of a network built on those principles and suggest how we can manage the evolution from today’s networks to an architecture better suited to the decades ahead.

Author Biographies

Byoung-Jo J. Kim, AT&T Labs-Research
Principal Member of Technical Staff, Networking & Services Research
Paul S. Henry, AT&T Labs-Research
Distinguished Member of Technical Staff, Networking & Services Research
How to Cite
Kim, B.-J. J., & Henry, P. S. (2012). Directions for future cellular mobile network architecture. First Monday, 17(12).