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Network Automation @ Large

Network automation is key to addressing profitability challenges for MNOs but needs to evolve stepwise in brownfield environments.

Mats Eriksson / February 14, 2024

Network automation is crucial for MNOs, but how to cope with a diverse and rigid OSS stack?

Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) are increasingly squeezed for margins. Revenues are not growing at the same pace as costs, which is further emphasized by the ongoing rollout of 5G. The huge hopes for incremental revenue growth have so far largely failed to be delivered.

B2B services remain a promising area with potentially higher margins. However, they come with their own set of challenges. B2B services are more valuable the higher up in the stack they can be defined (i.e., the more vertically tailored functionality they contain, the more value). This calls for network automation that can support a long range of services in an agile manner.

Legacy Operational Support Systems (OSS) often consist of hundreds of SW elements that expose rather low levels of automation capabilities. Re-architecting those systems is a difficult and costly exercise. Thus, the approach must be to re-use whatever works reasonably well, whilst replacing other elements. It also needs to start from the brownfield nature of each MNO.

The journey towards a fully autonomous network needs to be an evolution. A model for that has been defined by TM Forum.

The O-RAN Alliance has outlined some relevant architectural elements for RAN automation, where the most prominent are the Non-Real Time Radio Intelligent Controller (Non-RT RIC) and the Near-Real Time Radio Intelligent Controller (Near-RT RIC). These elements constitute platforms.

Network automation initiatives at MNOs should be tailored to specific needs and situations, calling for advanced solution design and integration. Those solutions often start in emerging Non-RT / Near-RT RIC platforms and the Apps that are intended to be deployed on top.

Although the RIC elements originate from O-RAN, they are good candidates for automation also in brownfield setups.

An example would be our ongoing System Integration work for the Linux Foundation (exONF) SMaRT-5G project. Partnering with Linux Foundation, Rimedo Labs, Intel, Viavi, and i14yLab, Tietoevry has been integrating rApps and xApps on the ONF RIC platforms to improve the overall network energy efficiency.

Download our Radio Access Networks Automation whitepaper

Tietoevry is a key partner in your journey toward autonomous networks

The ability to develop automation solutions should be built on a solid understanding of network functionality, as automation functions are nested and interdependent.

Tietoevry has a long track record as, probably, the largest independent R&D provider to the RAN industry. We are involved in numerous activities related to emerging network automation initiatives, which makes us a qualified partner to support network automation.

Reach out to us to discover how we can improve your network automation.

Mats Eriksson
Business Development Lead

Mats Eriksson leads business development and sales in the telecom and radio access sector in Tietoevry Product Development Services. He has previously co-founded technology companies and held managerial positions in various companies. He has a background in academia where he was in charge of a research cooperation institute and founded an EU innovation initiative.

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