This article proposes a novel architecture for next-generation cellular networks in indoor scenarios. The objective of this model is to support SON mechanisms based on the knowledge of the user equipment location in a small cell network, the use of such information being a key enabler for advanced SON methods. The defined design is the basis for systems providing innovative location-aware SON techniques that make use of user localization in medium/large indoor areas (e.g., malls or corporate buildings). The functional and physical characteristics of this architecture and their technical implications are analyzed. Proposed innovations to generic mobile architecture are described as well as specific implementation for LTE/LTE-A standards. Interoperability with standard management systems and localization services, congestion avoidance, and data offloading are the key drivers of the design. Finally, the capabilities of the proposed architecture are demonstrated through the performance analysis of a simple key use case for location-aware self-optimization. © 1979-2012 IEEE.
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