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Transforming Telco Cell Sites in the 5G Era

As businesses pursue their journey in the present digital landscape, it is absolute that the growth of 5G is triggering the exponential growth of cell sites

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VoicenData Bureau
New Update
Characteristics and Innovation Directions for 5.5G Networks

By Sai Sandesh V and Pavan Gupta

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As businesses pursue their pandemic-induced cloud journey in the present digital landscape, it is absolute that the growth of 5G is triggering the exponential growth of cell sites. Businesses have shifted their focus on adopting 5G technologies to digitally transform their businesses and witness accelerated growth that boosts agility and productivity. As unprecedented times call for quick actions, telco operators have found it inherently complex to manage their cell site operations in these changing landscapes.

Large telcos are realizing that their existing solutions are unable to meet the demands of cell site operations and now understand the need for automation and intelligence to roll out cell towers at an exponential pace for countrywide access to 5G operations.  To manage this scale of 5G operations, it is important to leverage software automation and use intelligent software systems that derive insights from data.

To address this situation, first, it is essential to understand how 5G plays a crucial role in providing steady and ubiquitous internet connectivity backed by access technologies such as macrocells, small cells, mmWave devices, Wi-Fi, etc. Additionally, it becomes essential to have a system in place that can perform different roles to ensure these networks run smoothly.

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Thus, telco operations rely on cell site management making it a critical element to provide steady operational capabilities. Adopting a digital transformation strategy to address this situation enables operators to manage and estimate scaling, improve internal operational efficiencies, enhance customer experiences, and keep the networks functioning.

The Digital Transformation Shift

Seemingly, the best advantage of digital transformation is that it helps to keep the performance of cellular networks optimal and get better insights on customer experience for digital connectivity. An ideal digital transformation adoption includes network planning, finance budgeting, cell site construction, and so on to achieve intelligent network operations.

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A carefully tailored strategy will prepare telcos to meet the scale of 5G network rollout, keep the networks up and running and eventually generate better revenue. Minimizing human intervention through software automation and leveraging the power of data and AI/ML-assisted insights is essential for decision-making.

The Digital Transformation Dilemma

There are numerous factors that prevent telcos from re-routing themselves from the traditional approach when it comes to adopting a digital transformation. On one hand, there is the high licensing cost of 3rd-party software solutions, complex network assurance methods, and non-unified view of countrywide operations and on the other hand is the lack of insights into financial operations, budgets, and expenditures.

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This calls for a 360-degree digital transformation strategy to adapt to the changing demands of the business environment. To prepare for a 5G transformation, a well-planned cell-site management system addressing various facets including managing supply chain, finances, business workflows, networks, contracts, and field workforce is essential.

The Digital-Driven Telcos

As mentioned previously, it is important to plan the network and infrastructure, budget and finance, perform cell site engineering, and operations.

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Digital transformation will help in building data centers, hubs, and cell towers, that will streamline the business workflows and improve workflow efficiency. This becomes vital in planning for new 5G cell sites, penetrating new markets, and reaching out to untapped customers. Furthermore, when it comes to budgeting, a comprehensive approach that incorporates allocation and tracking becomes the priority.

A unified budget and financial planning solution should ideally have the capabilities to perform budget forecasts and deliver visibility using machine learning. As discussed above, a cell-site infrastructure typically requires a heavy chunk of investment. While multiple functions are involved, the roll-out process tends to get delayed due to a lack of coordination, insights, and activity tracking. Hence, a digital transformation solution for cell site management addresses these concerns.

Slashing the Siloed Model

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Traditionally, network engineers have been dealing with multiple software systems to manage network operations. A tier-1 operator might be dealing with 15 or more software systems just for network operations. Adding to the complexity, different markets and territories have their own solutions.

Here, digital transformation plays an important role in allowing centralized management of networks by unifying the operations under a single platform and helping operators to move away from a ‘siloed’ model to have a consistent view of country-wide operations.

The Way Forward

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Network operations can be intelligently handled to drive forthcoming growth and scale of networks with 5G as the key driver. This can be achieved by addressing various business aspects such as business workflows, real-time data transformation, automated ticket assignment, automated diagnosis & fixing of network issues, and maximization of workforce productivity.

Operators are witnessing significant advantages with the application of such solutions saving millions of dollars annually along with achieving streamlined operations. To hop on to the intelligent future, digital transformation is the key to building the networks of the future.

Sai Sandesh V is the Senior Director, Product and Platform Engineering, Brillio, and Pavan Gupta is Consultant, Brillio

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