PARTNER FEATURE: In recent years, as COVID-19 is still ravaging the world, governments have taken mitigation measures, imposing unprecedented demands on mobile networks. According to the GSMA statistics, the global mobile data traffic per subscriber has increased even more in 2020 than ever before, reaching more than 6 GB per month, which doubles that of 2018. This means that consumers participate in online activities more extensively and frequently. As is shown in the statistical results of Analysys Mason, more than 67% enterprises suggest that the ICT industry must change to more appropriate technologies, services and processes to support new working modes.
However, in the global mobile services, the epidemic has postponed network deployment and made on-site engineering service support more difficult, bringing new challenges to base station site survey, quality check, network maintenance, and network performance improvement that originally required high personnel mobility.
At the same time, the construction and O&M of communication networks, represented by 5G networks, are also faced with the problem of digital transformation. It is expected that automatic, intelligent, and agile deployment can be promoted to replace the traditional manual statistics, judgement, and maintenance that rely on offline tables, as well as the laborious and time-consuming network construction and O&M that are carried out with traditional deployment tools.
“Intelligence arising from digitalization, intelligence transforming into power”. In this digital and intelligent era, ZTE, a driver of digital economy, has launched the digital network deployment solution to make network deployment more simplified, efficient, and intelligent by applying digital, automatic, and intelligent methods.
What is the Digital Network Deployment Solution?
With only one mobile phone, an engineer can go to the selected site to take photos of the equipment and base stations, and then complete the site survey job that traditionally requires several engineers to carry a tape measure, a level, a compass, a pen, and paper to the site for repeated measurement, which may even require the assistance of advanced instruments such as the laser rangefinder, electronic compass, and electronic level. This is not a dream, but an actual application scenario of digital network deployment.
Digital network deployment means digitally displaying network deployment data such as flows, processes, and documents, and supporting the automatic and intelligent delivery operations with digital tools, so that highly-efficient and accurate network construction and maintenance management decisions can be made. The whole solution consists of the “real-time, automatic, collaborative and visual” Intelligent Engineering Project Management System (iEPMS), “secure, real-time and efficient” Technology Delivery Platform (TDP), and “intelligent, visual, agile and closed-loop” intelligent network O&M solutions. It runs through the whole process of communication network planning, construction, maintenance, optimization and operation. The digital network deployment solution makes network deployment simple, efficient, and intelligent through digital, automatic, and intelligent methods.
Digital Network Deployment Technologies: Real-time, Automatic, Collaborative, and Visible
ZTE’s self-developed digital delivery platform iEPMS is “anytime anywhere, collaborative, real-time, intelligent, visible and highly-efficient”. It supports five major functions: process management, quality management, document management, material management, and outsourcing management. The iEPMS can be rapidly interconnected with different content modules of different customer systems to achieve efficient service coordination among different companies, and it has been interconnected with the systems of multiple operators around the world.
Automatic Intelligence Tools: Cloud-Based, Intelligent, Simple
ZTE has established an end-to-end intelligent tool system in all phases including planning, commissioning, optimization, and maintenance. The big data-based cloud network planning platform Smart Hippo makes 5G coverage and capacity planning more accurate. With the new network optimization drive test tool WNG, an engineer can complete the drive test by simply using a smart phone installed with the WNG App, and output reports automatically through the cloud server, which is portable and efficient and features resource sharing. The VMAX, a customer-oriented heavyweight tool, is introduced with AI capabilities such as intelligent analysis and intention insight. Through online intelligent insight and analysis of big data, the VMAX achieves all-around optimization, analysis, and intelligent operation of network quality, service traffic, user experience and terminal applications, thus improving user perception. The product tool AIC, which simplifies complexity, can achieve end-to-end continuous delivery of NFV network deployment. The Virtual Drive Test (VDT) tool allows engineers to customize routes and drive test tasks, automatically extracts and analyzes mass drive test data. With GIS presentation, the VDT provides a wireless network coverage analysis solution with the same effect as the traditional drive test (DT) in road wireless coverage, quality and event information, greatly reducing the drive test manpower cost and improving drive test efficiency.
Intelligent O&M Solution: Preventive, Fast, Accurate
Based on the self-developed OSS O&M support platform, ZTE’s intelligent O&M solution provides centralized O&M for multiple manufacturers, multiple systems, and multiple types of devices to implement online management of the entire O&M process. Intelligent fault prediction and accurate preventive maintenance can eliminate potential network faults in advance, greatly reducing the probability of site faults. In addition, through automatic fault diagnosis and recovery, remote troubleshooting and quick fault-fixing can be implemented, reducing the number of times that engineers have to go to sites to handle faults and thus reducing the risk of epidemic infection.
Specifically, ZTE’s digital network deployment covers four parts on the service layer: market bidding, network delivery, network technology, and network O&M, covering the entire chain of end-to-end network deployment, helping customers achieve “extremely simple” network deployment and “ultimate” user experience in the digital era.
At the technical level, AI, cloud technologies, and micro-services are used to provide more efficient and convenient technical support. The purpose of digital network deployment is to simplify complexity for customers, that is, to implement digital collection, monitoring, and application of data through the big data analysis, processing, and prediction capabilities, thus providing customers with more convenient remote network guidance, diagnosis, and services. In this way, complicated issues are dealt with during the delivery process.
Digital Network Deployment Has Been Widely Used Worldwide
Up to the end of 2021 Q3, ZTE has established service networks and branch organizations in over 160 countries and regions worldwide, and has cooperated with more than 500 telecom operators to provide digital network services to over 40,000 projects worldwide. Since pandemic outbreak in 2020, the “zero-touch” cloud-based network services have effectively reduced the risk of infection to network O&M personnel, increased the number of online users by 45%, and saved OPEX by 15%, benefiting more than 300 communications networks worldwide and their users.
On March 31, 2021, on the 2021 Digital Transformation&Development Summit held in Beijing, ZTE first passed the “Assessment of Digital Trusted Services” by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT). In September, at the 2021 annual selection and award ceremony of ICT China, ZTE’s cloud network service solution under epidemic won the 2021 Best Solution Award of ICT China, and its intelligent O&M solution won the 2021 Excellent Case Award for Technology Innovation Application. ZTE’s digital network deployment concept has been increasingly recognized and praised by the industry.
Digital Network Deployment Will Become the Main Mode of Future Network Deployment
The impact of the epidemic on network quality is temporary, while its impact on data use may be permanent. According to the analysis of GSMA, the impact of the epidemic is expected to end at the end of 2022. The epidemic highlights the importance of communication networks, and promotes the all-round development of working from home, online education, e-commerce, digitalization and automation. Therefore, operators and network service providers need to continuously respond and improve network capacity.
At present, ZTE has completed the overall planning of intelligent digital network deployment, which will make the future digital network deployment more automatic and intelligent, promoting the change from automatic network to intelligent network.
When changeability, uncertainty, complexity, and fuzziness become the new normal state of the communication network environment, digital network deployment will definitely become the main mode of future network deployment. In the digital and intelligent era, ZTE should respond to changes in communications network deployment by driving digital economy with professional, efficient, and intelligent services.
Hong Gongcun, Vice President of ZTE CorporationSubscribe to our daily newsletter Back