Automated Network Configuration Management for Today’s Complex Wireless Networks
A network engineering team can often be compared to a swan: graceful and calm on the surface while paddling frantically under water to keep itself afloat. And there is good cause for this. It is estimated that in today’s LTE network there are up to 3000 different parameter settings per radio cell that a network engineer must configure, update and control to ensure that the network performs as expected. This number is expected to grow exponentially in the 5G era – simply making it impossible for a network engineer to ‘paddle’ at the speed required to keep the swan (or network) above water.
The results can be catastrophic if something slips through the gaps. In early December, we saw a number of major communications service providers hit with widespread outages that left millions of subscribers without data services for nearly two days. All of which had to offer compensation to their customers for the loss of service. While this is at the severe end of the scale, as more advanced low latency services, such as Augmented Reality and telemedicine, come online, ensuring the network is configured to meet the performance levels required is increasingly coming under the microscope.
5G requires more advanced network configuration requirements
Network misconfiguration is one of the primary causes of poor network performance. Configuration discrepancies stem from the increasing amount of network parameters that now control the network and the number of major network technology and software upgrades that are introduced into the environment, in some cases up to eight times per year. In the event of a service degradation, it now is extremely difficult and time consuming to discover the misconfigured settings and restore the network before it impacts your customers’ quality of service.
This is why TEOCO developed SmartCM, a next generation configuration management system, that provides communications service providers with greater visibility and automation to ensure that network configuration no longer becomes a key contributor to network degradation and revenue loss. Designed from the ground up for 5G networks, SmartCM brings together baseline Plan network data and Live network data together with network data repository, planning and optimization tools to help network engineers quickly identify configuration discrepancies, understand the impact of network misconfigurations and make the necessary adjustments. In addition, SmartCM brings ‘write’ capabilities, whereby parameter values can be changed on the network, within a permitted range, with full traceability of who, when and why the change was made. The write capabilities and granular visibility into configuration history enables faster time to resolution, improved stability of the network and increased quality of experience for subscribers. What’s more, with greater visibility and automation capabilities, network engineers can spend less time on troubleshooting and focus on optimizing the network.
SmartCM helps European Operator to Podium Finish in Speed Race
While all of this sounds great in theory, the proof is in the pudding. A leading European communications service provider recently implemented SmartCM into its network to perform accurate configuration changes in real-time, reduce operating costs and improve subscriber network quality. SmartCM now automatically monitors and audits the accuracy and performance of changes to the configuration of the CSP’s GSM, UMTS and LTE networks. With SmartCM’s network write capabilities, configurable business rules and template creation to enable rapid configuration of entities at large scale, the CSP has greater control over how it manages changes to the network and has accelerated the roll out of new services. In addition, the network engineers can easily switch between dashboard or granular views to gain a deeper understanding of the history of network configurations, paving the way for future automation.
The CSP’s investment in SmartCM has had an immediate impact. At the end of 2018, they were named the top CSP in their market for connection speeds, coverage and voice quality – demonstrating the value of network configuration supported by greater visibility, agility and automation in driving customer quality of service.
When network quality is paramount to support new advanced services, communications service providers need to get their house in order so that they implement network configurations correctly the first time and can identify any discrepancies quickly.