There are several demands on communications service providers (CSPs) that are making autonomous networks attractive. A major driver is dealing with the complexity of developing realtime, B2B2X services and partnerships that depend on a complex web of interlinking processes. Partners and telecoms providers would benefit from automated, zero-touch networks that automate the process of working with telcos, rather than going through a painful partner onboarding process. Telcos also want to reduce costs and improve customer experience.
A new white paper on autonomous networks from TM Forum provides several examples of how CSPs are using autonomous networks to help them simultaneously address multiple challenges in ways that are far beyond the scope and efficiency of traditional systems.
When it comes to customer experience an automated system can draw on a mix of data based on user behavior, experience metrics, profile and real-time adjustments to deliver a consistent, seamless experience that takes into account numerous factors such as location, mobility, network quality and service type.
A wide-ranging implementation of autonomous networks by China Mobile, for example, explains how the CSP is able to proactively identify poor-quality home broadband services with 95% accuracy, making it possible to swiftly intervene and improve network performance. The system’s capabilities include accurately identifying network bottlenecks and driving capacity expansion planning and the CSP says it has reduced the average time it takes to locate faults from 2.1 hours to 10 minutes and calculates it has improved user experience by 83%.
The autonomous networks system is also being used to drive up revenue through self-marketing. The service operation layer automatically analyzes a mix of factors such as tariffs and user preferences to recommend value added services for a customer. Using self-subscription, customers can sign up to services on demand, flexibly combining them to create the mix that bests suits them. Information feeds in from the resource operation layer, which provides network and resource information related to subscribers, as well as customer service preference.
MTN meanwhile shares insight into the ways autonomous networks (AN) benefit its business, including how it uses AN to inform its the Fiber to the x (FTTx) deployment. AN makes it possible for MTN to ensure rapid service provisioning, improve the use of resources and reduce the average time it takes to deal with faults and proactively dispatch maintenance tasks.
Orange is working on inventing the future of networks and usages for both B2C and B2B markets. 5G is profoundly transforming the way networks are built, deployed and operated. They are exploring new approaches on how to get an autonomous network with end-to-end automation, thanks to 5G features which allows greater openness and flexibility with
automation closed loops, AI triggers & fully edge cloud compatibility. These new-generation networks open up multiple possibilities for carriers, verticals (smart industry, smart agriculture, cities …) and users.
Automation and closedloop mechanisms mean the network is expected to develop the ability to adapt and repair itself. When a technical incident occurs, it is analyzed via AI, triggering an automated action. This results in improved user experience with greater fluidity.”
Not every CSP is at the same level of AN deployment and any telco starting out will need to consider its approach carefully. As TM Forum’s latest AN white paper points out, network automation is costly and is complicated by the fact that CSPs continue to maintain a large footprint of legacy networks that generate much of their income. They, therefore, need to ensure they have the answers to some key questions, including What is their starting point? How do they measure the value of their AN program?, Where do they source the necessary skills? What will be their evolutionary path to achieving full-scale automation?