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Accessing the Blackbox for Nextgen Networks

By: Ahmet Ozturk

As the industry heads for more complex network environments—including 5G and IoT—it is becoming even more of a necessity for engineers to collaborate and combine their expertise in achieving network key performance indicators (KPIs).

Yet communications service providers remain focused on traditional network equipment and utilize large numbers of engineers to manage it.

Ahmet Ozturk, chief technical executive of Innovile, explains how the introduction of greater automation enabled by SON (Self Organising Networks) and Unified NMS (Network Management System) solutions enables service providers to better utilize the experience of their engineers by managing the complexity of the future network and focusing on higher value-add tasks.

Together, software specialists can work in an open, transparent environment to automate systems and create KPIs that work to drive operational efficiency and help operators grow margins in a declining market.

5G

For many CSPs, 5G is a game-changer: it could alter the technical and commercial parameters of almost every use case. 5G will involve lots of small cells, many IoT items and new network management technologies, such as software defined networks (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV). By its nature, this shift will be complex and time-consuming, it will require more efficient automation and optimization. 

Compared to the transition to LTE from UMTS—which had similar standards and technical operations—5G is a more dramatic shift. The complexity and uncertainty of 5G poses a big challenge, and service providers need to manage it without the expectation of generating immediate profit.

Huge amounts of equipment will be needed, which will be expensive to deploy and operate but, for many service providers, the business case for deploying 5G is unclear. Few customers need the performance of 5G specifically—yet. In IoT, and other areas such as self-driving cars, minimum network latency will be required for services to perform, and 5G will be able to support that. However, this is an emerging market and no one sees profit coming from that anytime soon, so most service providers will begin by collocating 5G with LTE, rather than building standalone 5G networks. Service providers therefore have to find funding to go through 5G installation when there is no profit to be made yet, just complication to be addressed.

Inevitably, the complexity results in costs, which is exactly what service providers are trying to minimize. Even with existing systems, service providers have substantial engineering headcount in place to manage operations and optimization. Most of the optimization workload is in the radio access network (RAN) and all the early changes will happen there as small cells, IoT devices ,and others are added over time. The core network will be more stable in comparison to the RAN, but there will be a huge volume of changes to incorporate into the RAN.

Automation

Service providers face two automation challenges: automation in operation and automation in optimization. We see them using Unified NMS to automate operations and SON to automate optimization. This automation will be vital to move service providers to a sustainable cost base and to enable changes to be made sufficiently and quickly. Manual processes are simply too slow, too expensive and too error prone.



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