PARTNER CONTENT: Recently, GSMA released the AI in Network Use Cases in China white paper at Mobile World Congress Los Angeles 2019. The white paper clearly points out that the network automation dividend brought by applying AI to mobile networks is the cornerstone of carriers’ efficient operation in the 5G and post 5G era. A highly intelligent and automated network is necessary for efficient and well run 5G networks, and these will gradually evolve to intelligent autonomous network in future. The intelligent autonomous network requires innovative three layered architecture. The whitepaper pointed out that the mobile network would be divided into five levels and gradually realize a complete autonomous network.

According to the report, the network automation capability brought by AI in Network is the fourth dimension of the 5G era following eMBB, mMTC, and URLLC, which is indispensable. Currently, many operators, equipment vendors, and third-party vendors have started to explore the development of the intelligent autonomous network, including network traffic forecasting, automatic base station deployment, automatic fault location, and on-demand experience optimization. The report released seven application cases for the intelligent autonomous network, covering network planning, maintenance, optimization, service assurance, energy saving and efficiency improvement, security protection, and network operation services.

In June, at the AI in Network Seminar for Mobile World Congress Shanghai 2019, GSMA greater China established the AI in Network special working group with 11 industry partners. The working group calls on the entire industry to focus on and contribute to the key applications of AI in the mobile network, and jointly build the 5G era for the intelligent autonomous network.

Intelligent autonomy is an important enabler of innovative mobile business models, and will become the core element of the mobile communication networks in the 5G era. A network architecture featuring layered autonomy and vertical collaboration is required for the implementation of the intelligent autonomous network. The layered architecture ensures that network complexity is not increased further and optimal performance of the intelligent autonomous network is delivered. The intelligent autonomous network contains a layered architecture, including the cross-domain orchestration layer, single-domain autonomous layer, and NE layer. Information needs to be coordinated and exchanged through open interfaces (such as open APIs and SDKs) between different levels of closed-loop, for example, between cross-domain closed-loop and single-domain closed-loop. The key to realizing the intelligent autonomous network lies in openness and collaboration.

The complexity of the communication network determines that intelligent autonomous network cannot be achieved overnight. It is a long-term process to realize the complete intelligent autonomous network. Therefore, efforts should be made in the following sequence: Assisted Operation (L1), Preliminary Intelligent Autonomous Network (L2), Intermediate Intelligent Autonomous Network (L3), Advanced Intelligent Autonomous Network (L4), and Complete Intelligent Autonomous Network (L5).

Network automation is the only way to achieve economic and agile networks, and it is the cornerstone of 5G business success. The application of AI technology to mobile networks will play a decisive role in the automatic evolution process of networks, break through the boundaries of current automation capabilities, and move towards a fully autonomous network. Additionally, a more open attitude is still needed for incubating various practices to clarify the connotation and extension of the intelligent autonomous network. GSMA calls on the whole industry to work together to define the scenario APIs and connotation of O&M automation to promote efficient collaboration between networks and processes, and accelerate digital transformation.

AI, 5G, and Internet of Things (IoT) are three core elements of GSMA’s vision “Intelligent Connectivity”. The integration of AI and communication networks will inject new vitality into mobile network and open up unprecedented possibilities to bring this vision into reality.”

* The download link of the whitepaper