Worldwide 5G adoption is growing at an unprecedented rate. With over 300 percent growth year-on-year, 5G has emerged as the fastest growing generation of wireless technologies. With this transformation come the challenges associated with deployment, service provisioning and management.
The biggest challenge that operators face with 5G deployment is related to the cost involved in transport network operations and complex service level agreements (SLA) requirements such as higher bandwidth, near zero latency, high precision and synchronization, fast convergence, and more. Here comes the importance of an automated, intelligent 5G transport network.
Automated activation of 5G transport networks
Implementation of commercial 5G networks demands huge resources like fibre and network gears. Also, since 5G network involves cross-domain scenarios and simultaneous access to multiple base stations, configuration becomes even more complex. It is estimated that 5G base station configuration takes 3 to 4 times longer than LTE circuits. Traditional approaches will not be suitable as they would require several manual hours to meet the complex provisioning requirements arising in 5G. In peak scenarios, more than 100 sites need to be deployed a single day.
To enable faster 5G transport network provisioning, China Mobile Hunan has implemented an SDN intelligent operations and maintenance center (OMC) platform called iMaster NCE, which can not only automate the network construction process but also improve the efficiency and quality of the network.
The NCE offers two key features: automatic circuit activation and automatic service provisioning. Through fast orchestration in cross-domain scenarios, circuits are automatically activated, and 5G base station services are automatically provisioned. Powered by automated features, NCE virtually eliminates the manpower involved in service provisioning.
According to Yang Zhaojun, vice general manager of Network Management Center, Hunan Mobile, with NCE, circuit activation time is reduced from 10 minutes in traditional approaches to around 1 minute whereas automatic service provisioning is reduced from 35 minutes to 1.5 minutes. During LTE era, average provisioning from Hunan Mobile topped to 20 sites per day; however, with NCE automated service activation, Hunan Mobile now deploys 150-200 5G sites every day.
Further, for Hunan Mobile, it has allowed one-time data interconnection with province-wide application, across seven cities.
Since the launch of 5G late last year, China Mobile Hunan has been instrumental in provisioning 5G transport network in the province of Hunan in central China. According to Yang Zhaojun, as of October 31, Hunan Mobile has successfully provisioned over 21,000 5G base stations covering all urban areas in Hunan. With this, Hunan province has been ranked the 8th in terms of 5G deployment scale among 30 provinces covered by China Mobile Group.
Since 5G is considered as the pillar of growth across social, government and enterprise verticals, Hunan Mobile is focusing on 2B and 2C use cases, as well as major segments such as business districts, governments & enterprises, and vertical industries, said Yang Zhaojun. For the next year, the company has set a target to cover all cities, counties and towns in Hunan while also offering 5G network slicing solutions to 2B customers. Beyond 2022, a more refined 5G operations model will be built.
China Mobile has also pioneered 5G+AICDE, a strategic cooperation to jointly provide governments, enterprises and individual customers with richer and multi-tiered communications, information infrastructure and digital services. To further complement these efforts, China Mobile Hunan, in association with Huawei, plans to build cloud-network capabilities and develop products that integrate clouds, networks, and applications. It also aims to establish a one-stop service support system to further simplify 5G network operations.