intelligence

The immediate 5G ‘choke point’: Rolling out 5G NR fast and efficiently

The arrival of 5G is elevating the visibility and relevancy of a wide range of innovative technologies across areas such as vRAN, SDN, NFV, IoT, AI/ML, MEC, network slicing, blockchain, quantum cryptography and more. Although the core 5G network architecture will evolve significantly in the coming years based on some of these technologies, the immediate challenge and choke point facing service providers is more fundamental, and some would say more mundane. The here-and-now problem that needs to be solved is how to deploy 5G New Radio (NR) and the related infrastructure quickly, with high quality, and as cost-effectively as possible.

There are some 4 to 5 million Radio Access Network (RAN) sites across the world today. Service providers need to update many of these in the coming years with 5G capabilities. A significant number of new sites, in many cases small cells, will be deployed as part of delivering higher 5G speeds using mmWave. Additionally, new service models that leverage 5G capabilities, such as CBRS/shared spectrum and private networks, will drive additional demands for broader RAN footprints. And finally, with 5G accelerating the move to multi-vendor, modular and open technology RAN networks, there will be increased complexity in planning, design, integration, commissioning, acceptance, verification and optimization.  The scope of the 5G NR rollout challenge is massive, and traditional approaches will be far too slow, will not scale and will not be economically viable.

To meet the market windows and timelines for 5G service launches, service providers globally will need to rethink the approaches they take to rolling out their networks and will need to ensure that the organizations and suppliers performing these tasks have the expertise, processes and tools to operationalize new RAN sites twice as fast as before, at a lower cost and more efficiently. Three main capabilities, outlined below, form the basis for being able to drive this level of step-change in RAN deployment, duration, and efficiency. Companies like Amdocs have these required skills and know-how and are already delivering vastly improved and superior results in RAN deployment activities.

The first competence is around infusing software-driven automation into as many aspects as possible of the 5G rollout lifecycle. It starts with ensuring use of software tools for end-to-end project orchestration for planning, building and modernizing the network. Multi-organization tracking systems enable operators to ensure graded visibility across the team (technicians, engineers, managers, executives); eliminate unnecessary paperwork (e.g. spreadsheets, email stops); provide timely notifications and reminders to avoid missing SLA obligations, and have guided processes that lead to error-free execution of deployment steps. These systems streamline the planning and project management process by combining automated technical design with dynamic project plan generation using reusable building blocks.

There is also a host of automation tools that are being leveraged during the integration and commissioning phase to speed up the deployment process and eliminate the need for multiple specialist field technicians to be on-site. Mobile and web-based applications allow trained personnel to rapidly validate the site, verify performance, conduct pre/post checks, and ensure that a new carrier or technology is seamlessly integrated into the network, alarm free. Automated reports enable service providers to turn on new sites faster by using go/no-go dashboards for validation and to check whether there are any KPIs gating the launch of one or more sites.

The second critical capability is having the right analytics tools and processes to ensure accurate, data-driven decision-making for network planning, design and optimization. A holistic approach that utilizes customer geo-located data, network KPIs and other related metrics minimizes operating and capital expenditure, improves network performance and provides an enhanced customer experience. These solutions address challenges around the co-existence of 5G NR and LTE, along with the introduction of active antenna systems which in turn introduce beam forming and beam steering to significantly increase network capacity, while ensuring a seamless network experience.

Big data analytics and visualization capabilities that simplify the viewing of multiple complex data sets can significantly enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of 5G RAN deployment and operations activities.  Flexible web platforms allow operators to consolidate data sources and tool outputs to a single, efficient source of data visualization and drilldown, with configuration, KPIs, sales data, retail, events and demographics as well as operator custom data in a single map and dashboard view.

The final area of required expertise is the breadth of cross-equipment-vendor/technology skills and best practices necessary to support high-quality deployment, commissioning and optimization of heterogenous RAN infrastructure. This will be increasingly important given the coexistence of multiple technologies and the need to support parallel networks during a time of transition. Discrepancy management for automatic detection and mitigation of issues across multiple vendor technologies will be required, and solutions that enable rule creation and template management for multiple carriers, bands, hardware configurations, layer management and different network topologies will be required to ensure timely and high-quality deployments.

The transition to 5G is challenging service providers to simplify and accelerate network deployments, which demands a new approach for RAN infrastructure buildout. Service providers need to adopt automated, analytics-driven and cross-equipment-vendor/technology solutions for planning, design, integration, acceptance and optimization in order to ensure their 5G deployments are fast, efficient and scalable.

www.amdocs.com/5G-fast

Parag is the SVP & Customer Business Executive at Amdocs Open Network, overseeing the business growth and client management activities in North America for Amdocs’ portfolio of solutions in the areas of mobile/5G network realization, network rollout acceleration, hybrid network operations, virtual network expansion and autonomous operations. Parag is a seasoned leader and professional with proven results and experience in helping service providers meet their objectives with value-rich solutions. Prior to Amdocs, Parag was at Ericsson in various management roles supporting leading wireless service providers in the US and Canada. Parag received a BSEE in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and an MBA from The University of Dallas.


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