It Takes a Village to Efficiently Run a Network
9 APRIL 2020
– Why system integration and automation are critical to 5G success
It’s estimated that the average adult makes about 35,000 decisions each day. While that number seems frightening enough to send most of us back to bed, the vast majority of these decisions happen almost automatically – triggered by other events and experiences from the world around us.
As human beings we function because we’re able to absorb information from all around us and then make thousands of ‘remotely conscious’ decisions every day. While some require careful consideration, most of these 35,000 decisions are done on autopilot. If we had to stop and carefully mull over which hand should turn off the alarm clock or which leg to put into our trousers first, we would quickly become too overwhelmed to function properly. The same is true for today’s telecom networks, which benefit from being able to share information across teams and systems. But networks also need tools that are designed in a way that can leverage all this data in an optimum way, and that’s through integration and automation via an event-driven architecture.
Event driven architecture (EDA) allows communication service providers (CSPs) to become more agile, with APIs that provide access to more accurate, real-time data, which leads to better business decisions. It also provides a critical step towards automation by reducing the number of manual tasks and allowing access to valuable information without breaking the databases and streams of data that are currently deployed. Without EDA, APIs becomes harder to manage, leading to tightly coupled systems that are less scalable and responsive. Is it important that CSPs adopt an EDA approach across their entire OSS? We believe that answer is a resounding YES.
Integrating Network Planning to the Wider OSS
One example of how today’s communication service providers (CSPs) can benefit from event-driven APIs is in the area of network planning tools. CSPs use network planning tools to help maintain and design wireless networks. But most of these tools were created in an age when networks and their underlying technologies were simpler; before the advent of things like 5G millimeter waves, which are so sensitive that even a snowstorm or trees leafing out in the spring can disrupt their signals.
Today’s networks are incredibly complex and require tools that are not confined to a siloed environment. Network planning tools need open communication with both upstream and downstream systems, ingesting information to improve planning as well as making planning information available to improve other processes such as inventory ordering. Upstream systems create events, and downstream systems listen for and act upon these events as needed. This approach requires event-based APIs with publish/subscribe architectures in order to reduce error-prone manual updates and create a more open environment for data sharing and automation. The advent of these APIs also provides a safe and supported mechanism to manipulate data without compromising the integrity of an existing database.
The Benefits of Data Sharing around Network Planning
There’s a saying that goes, ‘Everything we need to know we learned in early school.’ For most of us (hopefully) sharing was one of those early life lessons. Some anthropologists believe it’s what allowed humans to evolve. Could data sharing be the critical next step in the evolution of telecoms? Our experience shows that data sharing significantly improves radio planning accuracy, business process efficiency and, ultimately, network performance. TEOCO has several use cases in the area of network planning where the benefits of data sharing have been especially relevant.
Leveraging external data to improve network planning
Garbage in, garbage out is a concept that often applies to network planning. If the baseline data in a planning tool does not match what is in the actual network (due to, for example, optimization changes not being fed back into the planning tool) any new network designs will be compromised and performance will likely be poor. Loading the live network configuration data into the planning tool provides an accurate baseline from which to plan expansions and ensure good performance.
Further examples of improving network planning with external data include:
- Designing a more profitable network – Leveraging subscriber data, including ARPU and cost information, to ensure maximum return on investment for network expansions.
- Improving network planning with geolocated data – Importing geolocated network performance and usage statistics. Overlay them on the radio design to ensure new planned sites will address the existing performance and congestion issues.
Leveraging network planning data to improve external systems and provide competitive advantage
The most important asset of any wireless provider is their network. Most service providers have a map on their website that shows a detailed view of their network coverage. These maps are traditionally updated about once a month through a highly manual process. Through the benefits of data sharing, TEOCO has been able to improve this process by enabling automated, near real-time updates of coverage arrays for several of the largest service providers in the world. With continuously automated updates the CSP is able to keep internal teams, and their customers, better informed. This can prove especially beneficial for gaining a competitive edge when rolling out a new technology like 5G.
Another key area sharing planning data can help is in the network build process. By integrating the planning tool with inventory, site design, site acquisition, and site build tools, and automating the flow of data between these tools, the network build process is streamlined and time to market is reduced.
TEOCO’s ASSET Suite is a comprehensive planning portfolio designed to deliver cost-effective high-performance networks for 2G/3G/4G and now, 5G.
The products within the ASSET Suite cover radio, backhaul and capacity planning across a wide range of technologies, along with dedicated functionality for indoor coverage, Wi-Fi and small cells. Key to the success of the ASSET suite of products is its ability to seamlessly integrate into your wider OSS ecosystem, via a number of APIs, improving overall planning accuracy, business process efficiency and, ultimately, network performance.
For more information about ASSET products, contact us today.