Accelerating quality-assured 5G RAN rollout

Collectively, communications networks should be one of the great wonders of the world. However, there is no operations team on the planet that can deploy 5G networks within the timeframe or at the scale necessary meet demand without far greater reliance on automation. A TM Forum Catalyst proof of concept called Time Crunching 5G RAN Rollout with AI is looking at ways to accelerate the implementation of 5G RANs. The team demonstrated its project on July 30th as part of TM Forum’s Catalyst Digital Showcase. 

The project is championed by Claro. It seeks to address the time-consuming drags on network deployment stemming from the old practices of long and redundant daily meetings, unnecessary repeated site visits, little oversight, manual inventory resource management, and outdated RAN tuning methods. At the same time, the project shows how artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and analytics can reduce costs and eliminate redundant work.

“We believe the only way to obtain differentiating results in CapEx and time savings and at the same pace expand our footprint and assure quality of increasing types of services is to transform our current working methods and challenge the status quo in our daily network rollout process using state of the art technology,” says Hugo Salazar, engineering and implementation director of Claro Colombia.

Targeting four use cases

Claro has been an active champion in the project, working with participants Blue Prism, Brightcomms, Creativity Software, everis, an NTT company, Microsoft, Nokia and VIAVI. The group addressed four targeted use cases by connecting infrastructure for each of the four proof-of-concept environments into Claro’s labs system. The team had the following objectives:

  • Accelerate site survey processes by using images taken by technicians with mobile devices of hardware configurations which are stored in inventory systems.
  • Leverage AI, machine learning and analytics for image interpretation of these images to accelerate site verification during the installation process, thereby reducing costs and repeated site visits
  • Automate processes by implementing robotic process automation (RPA), big data and analytics to support closed-loop On-air processes
  • Speed the initial cluster tuning phase using self-organizing networks (SON), single-site verification tools, machine learning, and big data analytics

“We knew our current process of quality assurance in the network and logical parts of the rollout had opportunity for improvement around digitalization,” Salazar says.

General Architecture of the Catalyst project

Addressing the challenges

To meet its goals, the team faced five main challenges described below. While each is significant on its own, Salazar notes that time-to-market and initial cluster tuning are probably the most important.

“[Solving them] will bring operational efficiencies to the operator and I am convinced they will be key to differentiation in the market in the future,” he adds.

  • Site density – with the number of users and devices set to increase ten-fold over the coming years, operators must scale the number of radios and increase site density in general to support so many connections.
  • Investment growth & budget execution – operators cannot match a ten-fold increase in density with a like increase in their infrastructure investment.
  • Time to market – hyperscale cloud providers and over-the-top content providers are beating operators to market with innovative new services, making time to market a serious challenge.
  • Competitiveness – not only are these competitors getting to market quicker, they are doing so with more flexible business models and operations. Operators need to be both fast and responsive.
  • Initial RAN tuning – as a template-oriented activity, cluster tuning is a laborious process that does initial set up and testing for each individual site as well as setting up sub processes such as data collection, analysis and reporting. The scale needed in 5G deployments will put pressure on this practice.

It’s harder with 5G slicing

Hugo Nava, Regional Network Services Director at everis, says 5G slicing will further complicate the initial tuning process. “We need to carry out tuning in a more automated way,” he says. “And we need to designate in slices which are the most appropriate KPIs during the initial tuning.”

Getting the tuning right is key to optimizing the end-to-end rollout process. It helps set a baseline for performance that engineers can work to as they add additional sites.

everis, an NTT company, acts as the primary integrator of the project, while Nokia provides infrastructure and software solutions (as it already does for the Claro network). Blue Prism adds robotic process automation (RPA) capabilities for emulating human activities under the Digital Workforce concept and VIAVI brings into play tools for user plane analytics techniques aiming to validate the logical implementation and ensure the user experience. They also determine the proper performance of KPIs. Microsoft Azure provides Big Data and processing tools and AI for image interpretation. Brightcomms adds engineering tools, and Creativity Software has contributed its Big Data ingestion and normalization tools.

Nava says that whoever arrives first with this kind of accelerated, automated service will be a market leader. He adds that the Catalyst team will evaluate the results of the proof of concept before deciding whether to pursue a subsequent phase.

“There is still a lot to do in this area,” Nava says. “There will be space to go into a Phase 2 or even Phase 3.”

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By Tim McElligott, Senior Analyst, TM Forum
Original article from TM Forum, August 2020

Vacancy: SS7 Tester

We’re looking for a SS7 Tester to join the technical team in our London office.

The successful candidate will play a key role in our dynamic and award-winning technical team. You’ll be responsible for testing mission-critical systems that are delivered for mobile network operators, law enforcement and emergency service organisations worldwide.

Main Job Responsibilities:

  • Ensure products and releases reach a high level of quality before they are delivered to the client
  • Perform manual, automated and performance testing
  • Write test plans and reports including UAT test plans
  • Assist with UAT events

Expected experience:

  • Educated to 2:1 degree standard. (Maths or highly numerate subject qualifications would be advantageous)
  • Experience commensurate with ~3 years working for large telecom organisations, having followed structured testing methodologies
  • Good understanding of GSM/UMTS/LTE network and 3GPP standards.
  • Experience of SS7 / Sigtran (MAP and SCCP) signalling testing.
  • Experience of OMA MLP
  • Practical knowledge of automatic testing tool such as JMeter.
  • Experience of Protocol Analyzer tools like tcpdump, snoop etc.
  • Experience of writing test scripts (Bash, etc.) and writing simple SQL queries.
  • Experience of exploratory testing.

The following knowledge and experience is desirable:

  • Experience of Core / Radio Network interface testing
  • Experience of telecoms infrastructure with respect to that involved in location calculations e.g. GMLC, SMLC.
  • Experience of performance testing
  • Good command of Linux.
  • Experience of testing Diameter (LTE) protocols
  • Experience of assisting with User Acceptance Testing (UAT) for external clients
  • Experience of writing telecom test frameworks using CPPUnit/Google C++/TCLTk
  • Very good skills documenting and organising the UAT deliverables
  • Experience of (math) algorithm testing.

Creativity Software announced today the appointment of two key personnel

Both roles are strategic to the company’s drive towards its continued expansion and follow the recent appointment of Trevor Burns as VP Global Sales. The new colleagues further strengthen the team as CS continues to grow its customer base and launch its Big Data management solution following a milestone contract win with O2UK and the acquisition of Arcanum Ltd in 2019.

Sami will be responsible for the MEA region for CS and brings extensive experience in both Mobile Operators and Public Sector following roles with leading solution providers, including Teoco, Actix and most recently Smart Technology.

Stuart, brings extensive experience in pre-sales leadership and product strategy following more than 22 years within the enterprise software arena, including the last 14 years with Empirix, leading their Big Data solutions and pre-sales divisions.  Stuart will lead the CS product strategy and technical sales disciplines.

Trevor Burns commented on the appointments saying ‘Sami and Stuart are excellent additions to the CS family. We look forward to them playing key roles as CS continues to be a leading global provider in location intelligence solutions and with our new ARC Data solution, extend our expertise into Big Data management’

CS Acquisition Extends Big Data Technology to deliver Location Intelligence when and where it is needed

London. January 2020. Creativity Software (CS), a technology leader for the mobile network industry, today announced that the company has acquired Arcanum Communications Ltd., a leading provider of Big Data streaming technology. Adding Arcanum immediately expands CS into the provision of Digital Transformation solutions, supporting operators who daily process billions of event records necessary to support the Internet of Things.

“Arcanum has a well-earned reputation for product excellence and already enables Digital Transformation programmes in Telefonica, Europe interfacing between a number of data sources and the full range of 3rd party application services.” said Richard Lee, CEO of Creativity Software. “this Big Data technology enables us to now extend this powerful tool set & solve problems across our customer base. Together with the power of CS’ location platform, we now combine high location accuracy with the ability to monitor every device event on a network, in a very cost efficient manner.”

Big data streaming technology is real time analytics and decision management using volumes of data generated from a multitude of sensors across the entire mobile network.

The product suite allows mobile network operators to access and process massive amounts of data in real-time, providing continuous, event based decision making. The value comes from the provision of advertising insights and services, through to enabling smart cities via the analysis of device activity in real-time. This is extended by real-time detection of fraud, VIP “track & trace”, and monitoring customer experience across all network layers.

Individual components can be employed to act as a flexible mediation platform that allows for the customisation of these data feeds between existing probes and application requirements.  Each 3rd party component can now be replaced with ease, ensuring continuity of service during rapid network evolutions through to 5G.

Managing Director of Arcanum John Mahoney “the global reach of CS means that the technology that we have developed for Western Europe can now be merged with high accuracy location intelligence, and made available to a broader audience. It also gives me and the rest of the Arcanum team a broader stage for our own professional development.”

ABOUT:

Creativity Software (CS) has been a pioneer and leader in mobile location technology and services since 2001. Our focus is on delivering the entire spectrum of location intelligence requirements to support Mobile Network Operators, Emergency Services 911/112/999, Law Enforcement, Intelligence Agencies and Financial Institutions. Our solutions are used worldwide to enable Digital Transformation, save lives, protect the public and prevent and solve crime.

CONTACT: Gill Taylor, Communications Manager.   Gill.Taylor@CreativitySoftware.net