Michelle Donegan is a tech writer who has covered the communications industry for more than 25 years on both sides of the pond. Having worked for various industry titles, including Communications Week International, Total Telecom and Light Reading, she specializes in mobile network technology trends.
If your head is spinning from hearing 5G-related terminology like automation, network slicing, artificial intelligence, machine learning and intent-based modelling, then a new white paper from Comarch just might put your mind at ease.
The OSS/BSS vendor spells out the importance of process automation for successful 5G deployments and how to introduce it gradually into network planning processes in a way that should benefit operators as well as their customers.
The paper (download for free below) contends that to realize the promise of 5G for delivering a wide variety of on-demand services, operators will need a high level of process automation. Manual procedures and human intervention for network planning and service provisioning will need to be minimized as they will slow the pace of 5G’s service capabilities.
So what does automation really mean? According to Comarch, “On the network side, automation should mean the establishment of policies which lead to the generation of machine-driven strategies effective for a given operator. For the customer, automation should deliver on-demand services defined by each individual user and delivered almost instantly by the network.”
In short, it’s about cost efficiencies for operators and better on-demand services for customers.
This video explains how it all works:
The vendor recognizes that automation tools will need to be introduced gradually. After all, an operator’s entire IT back office can’t be changed overnight. Also, operators will be managing hybrid 5G/non-5G networks for many years, which means some legacy processes can’t be completely replaced.
Applying Automation to Planning and Provisioning
Two key areas where automation can play a role are in RAN network planning and service provisioning, according to the paper. For RAN planning, Comarch explains that even though human knowledge and manual intervention is required for the intent-based processes and process definition, the execution of processes can be automated. Eventually, these tasks can be assisted by machine learning, which makes processes repeatable and, ultimately, more efficient.
- Useful read: What is AI?
When it comes to delivering 5G on-demand services, Comarch explains that the technology enablers include Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) and Software-Defined Networking (SDN). The implementation of these technologies facilitates one of 5G’s most intriguing capabilities, which is network slicing.
NFV and SDN have some inherent automation capabilities but having the right automation models in place will be crucial for operators to successfully manage virtualized, software-defined 5G networks, according to Comarch.
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