Network Planning Goes 5G
Conservationist John Muir once said that, “between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.” This is especially true in the world of 5G millimeter wave spectrum – where any obstruction, such as a tree or a building, can cause problems with the signal. But if the network is planned properly, a new world of 5G services awaits.
5G Spectrum Sensitivities
5G millimeter wave spectrum is so sensitive that new building construction, trees and even weather can have considerable impact on signal strength. Something network planners call ‘ground clutter.’ It would be nice if we could apply best-selling author and tidying expert Marie Kondo’s principles of managing clutter to network planning. But the ground clutter in a 5G environment can’t just be boxed up and tossed aside – we must manage around it.
Making things even more challenging is the fact that ground clutter is constantly changing. Buildings are being built and torn down, snow falls and piles up, trees and shrubs grow and change over the seasons. All of this- and more- can cause problems with 5G signals, and it’s something that requires constant monitoring and adjustment, to ensure the network continues to function as planned.
You might want to know; if this spectrum is so finicky, why use it at all?
Millimeter waves may be the ‘high-maintenance’ waves of the spectrum, but they carry huge amounts of bandwidth – which is just what some of tomorrow’s new services will require. Any service that needs super low latency – meaning a blazing fast connection speed – is perfect for millimeter waves. Think autonomous cars, augmented reality, and robot-assisted surgery. Cool stuff, right? That’s why network planners are willing to endure the challenges of high-bandwidth spectrum. And it also highlights the importance of bringing accurate geospatial and environmental data front and center when planning for your dynamic 5G network – something that TEOCO already has experience in delivering. But we don’t stop there.
5G Requires a 360-degree View for Proper Planning
Planning a 5G network requires more than environmental data. It’s not only physical obstructions that network planners need visibility to, but also how existing network infrastructure, such as 3G and 4G/LTE, can be used to maximize cost efficiencies. A network planner must encompass all aspects, integrating up-to-date, accurate geospatial information of physical surroundings with current radio access network inventory, plus information from site acquisition, site rollout, configuration management and performance management systems. It’s only by integrating all these data streams onto a single screen that network planners can have a true 360-degree view, allowing them to:
- Maximize CapEx efficiency by validating 5G business cases and technology decisions
- Reduce time-to-market and maximize revenue potential with robust roll-out plans
- Improve planning effectiveness with highly efficient planning and design optimization capabilities
- Maintain customer Quality of Service by successfully integrating 5G with existing network technologies
ASSET 5G in Action
Improving network planning visibility and efficiency was one of the key focus areas that lead to a Tier 1 North American operator implementing TEOCO’s ASSET 5G into their network planning arsenal. With a goal of being the first carrier to launch true 5G wireless services, such as high definition wireless TV, the operator needed a comprehensive view of all their network assets – plus the ability to integrate network coverage and traffic modelling – in order to ensure their 2G, 3G, and 4G/LTE layers would work together seamlessly with 5G.
They also needed to model if their 5G network could support low latency services in certain geographic areas. This required the use of advanced propagation models, complex antenna array and full multi-technology simulation capabilities.
For the Operator’s network planning team, ASSET 5G has not only helped them accurately plan their 5G network, but also conduct scenario modelling to understand what their network will look like in the future, when certain changes are made, or when changes happen in the physical environment. Such as when new construction changes the landscape, or when trees and shrubbery grow or leaf out. In addition, ASSET 5G’s visualization tools enable network planners to provide coverage maps for business-critical applications and allow subscribers to create their personalized 5G coverage map.
As 5G ushers in a new era of low latency services, 5G network planning requires greater visibility to ensure that these complex services are successfully rolled out in the most cost-efficient manner possible.
Planning Automation is Key for 5G
As mentioned earlier, planning a network with millimeter wave frequencies has its unique challenges. Because the signals can be obstructed by something as small as the palm of your hand or even from a windy afternoon, this creates increasing complexity for network planners who don’t have the time or resources to reconfigure their network every time the weather changes. With ASSET 5G, network planners gain an up-to-date view of the dynamic, multi-technology network and can ensure that the constant changes do not interfere with each other or impact the subscribers’ quality of experience.