5G Site Integration: When Speed and Quality Matter
A Case Study in Software Driven Site Integration
What if there were a tool that suddenly allowed you to do your job seventy-two times faster. Would you use it? Imagine answering a week’s worth of emails in five minutes or reducing those back-to-back Zoom calls from seven hours per day to a mere six minutes. Unfortunately, there’s no magical tool that can do this, at least not yet. However, new automation tools can create massive improvements in how quickly network engineers can launch new 5G cell sites. And as we all know, time is money, especially for mobile operators who have invested billions of dollars into 5G New Radio. Any opportunity to speed up the last leg of this costly and time consuming journey is welcome news.
Network Configuration Challenges
Today’s mobile networks are increasingly complex and constantly changing.
A typical mobile network includes software and hardware from many vendors. Networks also often must support multiple technologies, and each technology typically has between two and four software releases per year from each vendor. This means most operators are continuously deploying software upgrades and often have different software versions in various parts of the network, each potentially requiring a different approach to how their cell sites are configured.
Additionally, operators need to support multiple network frequencies across multiple spectrum bands, with complex handover strategies between technologies. All of this creates massive amounts of complexity. And for each change required in the network, a configuration file needs to be generated that accounts for the multitude of interdependencies between vendors and technologies to ensure service continuity. With most operators maintaining many thousands of cell sites – that’s a lot of work, just to keep the lights on.
As 5G is rolling out, millions of new cell sites are being deployed around the world. Each one requires about five thousand different parameter settings. If the site also includes GSM, UMTS, and LTE, interdependencies to those technologies need to be configured too, requiring even more lines of code for each new 5G cell. Neighbor settings, power settings and cell parameters are just of few of the requirements that factor into building out these cell site transcripts – each with hundreds of customized rules and policies.
Delays and human errors are common – but why?
Network equipment manufacturers are often relied upon to build new cell sites and create these scripts, and much of this work is still done manually by multiple teams, often using just spreadsheets and Excel macros. It can take days to configure a complex site – and the likelihood of an errant keystroke, typo, or mistake in this process is almost guaranteed. It’s likely that the integration engineer runs the script, and finds an assortment of errors: invalid ranges, invalid values, and on and on. While some of these issues can be caught and corrected during the deployment, this typically leads to more service hours and lengthy delays. Many mistakes may go unnoticed too – until the site gets turned on and it doesn’t work properly, requiring more effort to correct the configuration errors at the eleventh hour.
The surprising part is, configuring a network doesn’t have to be such a messy, manual process.
A Case Study in Automation: improving site integration timeframes by 72X
Magenta Telecom in Austria is using TEOCO’s SmartCM zero-touch automation to create site transcripts 72 times faster than before. What used to take six hours now takes just five minutes. This means Magenta Telecom is launching 5G sites in record time – with error-free transcripts created at the touch of a button.
The engineers at Magenta Telecom also use SmartCM to manage parameter and neighbor changes across their existing cell sites. For example, they may decide that the default value of specific parameter needs changing across 15,000 cells. These transcript changes would previously have taken ten hours to complete, and now it takes just six minutes.
Shortly after the deployment of SmartCM, Magenta Telecom identified and addressed over one million discrepancies in just two days – something that was just not possible before SmartCM. With SmartCM, network engineers can quickly locate the parameter that needs changing, update the new value, and press go. It’s that simple. The tool immediately propagates the change across all the cells and creates new transcript files automatically.
SmartCM gives Magenta Telecom the ability to continuously maintain the integrity of their network and provide better service to their customers. On a day-to-day basis, the Operator can identify discrepancies in parameters between what they planned for and what’s in the network today and instantly resolve them. SmartCM acts as the configuration gatekeeper and provides a layer of governance to ensure that nothing goes into the radio access network that shouldn’t. This is especially critical as mobile networks become increasingly automated with changes coming from multiple vendors, partners and internal teams.
You can learn more by reading the full Magenta Telecom case study.
When time to market is critical, automation not only saves time and money but can deliver significantly better quality.
SmartCM is a proven configuration management and site integration tool. It maintains network integrity by automating all monitoring, auditing, updating, and reporting of cell site configurations. It provides a full range of workflow capabilities with decades of expertise built-in, saving CSPs and network equipment manufacturers massive amounts of time and countless headaches.
In addition to generating site integration transcripts, SmartCM provides a full spectrum of configuration management capabilities:
- Monitor and Audit Network Configurations
- Identify Discrepancies and Write Changes to the Network
- Capture and Track Configuration History
- Correlate Network Configuration Settings with Performance Issues
- Create New Business Rules on the Fly
- Generate Reusable Templates
Contact Us for more information.