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With the rapid growth of mobile communications, deployment and maintenance of cellular mobile networks are becoming more and more complex, time consuming, and expensive. In order to meet the requirements of network operators and service providers, the telecommunication industry and international standardization bodies have recently paid intensive attention to the research and development of self-organizing networks. In this article we first introduce both the market and technological perspectives for SONs. Then we focus on the self-configuration procedure and illustrate a self-booting mechanism for a newly added evolved NodeB without a dedicated backhaul interface. Finally, mobility load balancing as one of the most important selfoptimization issues for Long Term Evolution networks is discussed, and a distributed MLB algorithm with low handover cost is proposed and evaluated.