Operators embrace automation as a disruptive force
Contributing Editor Annie Turner rounds up March’s automation highlights, from excitement about stability and SON to supporting new ways of working.
TDC NET says its network is at its most stable for 25 years, with fewer instances of unplanned downtime and customer disruptions, and a more reliable experience for customers across the entire converged network. The operator said a big contributor is its partnership with Ericsson to transform network operations using the vendor’s AI-powered and data-driven Operations Engine.
The achievement is all the more impressive given what else was going on at the same time: Denmark was one of the first European countries to go into lockdown, which overnight raised customers’ demands on the network. It also coincided with a major network overhaul – including the upgrade of more than 3,800 base stations to deliver nationwide 5G and faster 4G speeds – and extensive transformation of its network operations in collaboration with Ericsson Managed Services.
Other ways of working
The Swedish vendor, along with Google Cloud and Nokia, has been chosen as Telenet’s 5G partner. The Belgian operator’s deployment model is to combine the two ‘traditional’ vendors with the cloud hyperscaler. Ericsson will look after the RAN, while as Jan van Tetering, Senior Vice President Europe at Nokia, explained, “Our partnership will create next-generation connectivity built around a cloud-native 5G core. Nokia’s…5G core products deliver near-zero-touch automation, high-level operational efficiencies, scale and performance.
“We are excited to help Telenet deliver a variety of new 5G use cases that not only meet the needs of existing customers but provide the operator with a strong set of tools for operating its network with more automation and agility.”
Micha Berger, CTIO at Telenet, commented, “5G is so much more than a radio technology system: it is the engine for innovation and opportunities for other ways of working, automation and analysis”.
Setting SON in all Orange opcos
Still with Nokia, the vendor is to expand its self-organising network (SON) technology across all of Orange’s 5G networks, starting with France and Spain. A centralised SON platform will automate operations across multiple technologies, “eliminating complexities from the multi-vendor and multi-layered networks naturally found across global operators,” according to the press statement.
The SON will enable Orange to automate operations for its 2G, 3G and 4G networks and support the progressive deployment of 5G. Orange has been creating and sharing custom solutions to manage its network environments using Nokia SON’s software development kit (SDK).
Arnaud Vamparys, Senior VP Radio Networks and 5G at Orange, said, “As a long-term partner, Nokia was a natural choice to help us automate our mobile networks in different geographies. The complexity of radio optimisation is growing with 5G beamforming and Nokia’s flexible, automated and multi-vendor platform enables us to maintain our exemplary network quality and customer satisfaction in the 5G era.”
Towards a software-centric future
Across the Atlantic, Canada’s TELUS chose DZS to provide end-to-end network service orchestration, with slice management functions, and software automation designed to accelerate and manage digital transformation across 5G and broadband services. DZS Cloud End-to-End Orchestration and Automation (E2EO) is based on the RIFT.ware solution, recently acquired by DZS.
DZS Cloud platform is cloud native and designed to simplify and automate the deployment of any slice and any service on any cloud, including the “brownfield discovery” of existing virtual applications. The idea is that it will give TELUS agile, automated life cycle management of virtual applications and services, unlocking operational cost savings, and decreasing churn and time to market by reducing manual application management across TELUS’ data clouds.
Ibrahim Gedeon, CTO at TELUS commented (read our exclusive interview with Ibrahim here), “We are excited to move from trial of the DZS [E2EO] platform to commercial deployment, driving virtualization, simplifying management across our network and equipping our users with better self-serve options.
“DZS Cloud will enable us to disrupt traditional business models and we look forward to working with the DZS team to innovate and deliver on the promise of open networks, virtual services and a software-centric future.”
Automating fibre interaction
DISH Network, which is working to become the US’ fourth national mobile network, is to use full-stack digital solutions from Netcracker Technology to automate the interaction between DISH and its transport network services providers. The agreement covers customer order and contract management, billing, resource and service management and orchestration.
Netcracker’s solutions are hosted in the public cloud and will help DISH automate a variety of functions, including leasing fibre connectivity, project management of fibre deliveries, service provisioning, performance reporting and invoice reconciliation. The solutions will also interface with network assurance tools and will help manage vendors’ compliance with contractual terms and service level agreements.
Jeff McSchooler, Executive Vice President of Wireless Operations at DISH Network, noted, “Speed to market is critical for us, and with Netcracker’s solutions we can order and manage our connectivity with extreme efficiency and minimal staff oversight to achieve our vision of a fully automated, lean network model.”
Adding the closed loop
Mavenir has extended its AI and analytics portfolio to include closed-loop automation and drive digital transformation. Its RAN Intelligent Controller and Network Data Analytics Function follow specifications introduced by the O-RAN Alliance and 3GPP, and “operate as the heart of a network automation vision”.
Apparently the two technologies allow the network to adapt dynamically to traffic conditions using machine learning-based algorithms and applications that can be deployed in any multi-vendor network.
Putting ATOM on the cloud
Network automation specialist Anuta Networks has launched ATOM Cloud, which is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) version of its ATOM network automation platform. ATOM Cloud is built on Amazon Web Services’ infrastructure, delivering benefits such as high availability, massive scalability, reliability, geographical presence, security, and lower OpEx.