During the MWC 2022, ZTE together with Light Reading, has held the webinar themed on "How Superb Networks Boost Value for CSPs". At the webinar, Andrea Zampagli, Technical Engineering Director of ZTE, talks about ZTE's approach to build a superb network and some latest success cases around the world.
Challenges Faced by Telecom Operators
Our experience is accrued by supporting hundreds of operators around the world and learning through the difficulties and challenges they face in the overall process starting from network plan, design, deployment and ending up with the day-to-day network operation. With network evolution the difficulties grow up with the complexity of network structure and the multi-system coexistence, but this complexity also leads to an opportunity with the possibility of layers interworking to harvest the maximum efficiency of spectrum for capacity and user performance improvement, and our goal is to provide technology, tools, equipment and services for supporting that.
Another big challenge faced by operators is the high construction and O&M cost, and the way we support them is facilitating virtualized transformation, building an overall operation mechanism, improving efficiency and quality of test and maintenance with automatic tools and cloud-based network services, which has been particularly strategic during the Covid-19 outbreak.
How to Build Superb Networks
Our approach to Superb Network Construction to meet all these challenges is articulated in four phases.
The first one is the construction of network infrastructure with the possibility to cover E2E from Core Network to RAN, through Transmission and Fixed network plus Mobile and FWA user equipment.
The second one is making constant improvements with new features and functionalities.
The third one is supporting network optimization to guarantee user experience improvement. In several projects these results have been recognized by third external benchmarking companies through performance tests oriented on user experience such as Umlaut (formerly P3) and Ookla test.
And the final step is supporting operator's growing business through OPEX cost reduction and profit increasing.
Tools Supporting Superb Network Construction
The Superb Network Construction is strongly supported by three big-data intelligent tool platforms iEPMS, UniSeer and uSmart-RNIA (Fig. 1).
iEPMS is an "Intelligent Engineering Project Management System". It runs through the whole process of contract, supply chain, procurement, engineering, services and finance, and takes the lead in realizing the automation, intelligence and digitalization of network deployment in the industry. With abundant visual data, the costs, materials, outsourcing, problems and risks of the projects can be effectively managed and controlled, which greatly improves the efficiency of engineering delivery and project management. ZTE iEPMS has been widely used in over 40,000 projects around the world.
UniSeer is an intelligent O&M solution that provides integrated O&M services oriented to networks, services and user experience. As our usual approach we try to build solutions to answer the operator's concerns. With UniSeer we introduced an "AAA" Intelligent Operation and Maintenance Capability to be proActive, Automated and Agile. Let's see how that answers the main concerns of operators.
One of the main problems is the weak visibility with delay in network management and difficulties in identifying in real time faults distribution not traced by alarms but exerting an impact on customers. With a proactive approach, it's possible to build a prediction and prevention system, covering networks, services and users. This gives also the possibility of solving potential problems in advance, and evolving from passive O&M to active O&M.
The second concern is the huge effort required for manual work and onsite job, and the answer is automation. Creating an automatic closed loop in the full lifecycle of O&M and establishing a grading system for automatic O&M, which can be improved continuously with Machine Learning and AI.
Finally, the lack of capability in using the large amount of available data to increase the intelligence level of operations. The answer to this concern through UniSeer is being agile using a unified analysis and view based on B/M/O data which helps to enrich information identifying geographical area with higher value, services with high customer impact that need a high level of performance and retainability and driving operation decisions and activities contributing to creating commercial value. Focusing on user quality and user experience increases the reactivity in troubleshooting and performance optimization.
uSmart-RNIA is an E2E comprehensive solution based on AI focalized on wireless network. It provides a variety of tools covering all the project phases.
Based on this approach currently ZTE has constructed high-performance superb networks in over 100 countries and regions, helping operators improve the network quality, user perception and network value. In the following paragraphs we describe some success stories in superb network construction.
Success Stories of Superb Network Construction
ZTE started the modernization construction upon the WindTre network in Italy since early 2017, and in 2019 we completed the construction of more than 11,000 physical base stations for major cities including Rome, Milan and Naples, covering more than 60% of area nationwide.
With the modernization of the WindTre network, the customer was confronted with the situation that the two network management systems, U31 for legacy 2/3/4G and UME for 5G, were both in use. To simplify operation and maintenance ZTE proposed a solution in early 2020, that was, to migrate over 20,000 logical NEs in the network to the UME systems.
Until then, the challenge for ZTE was to upgrade over 20,000 NEs and migrate them to the new EMS within three months. While for troubleshooting faults we were also faced with the test of GDPR compliance in cross-border data transfer.
After rounds of discussions with the customer we proposed a rolling promotion solution of "upgrading one batch and cutting over this batch" for all sites in the network. Meanwhile, we reported the GDPR compliance solution to all operations and troubleshooting processes to ZTE and the customer's legal teams, to avoid potential GDPR compliance risks.
Finally, we successfully achieved milestones as planned. With simplified operation and maintenance, the efficiency of site modernization and reconstruction is greatly improved. At the same time, network performance is improved. After the migration the 5G data traffic of the whole network is increased twice, and in the 2021 Q1-Q2 Ookla speed test, WindTre again won the "Best Mobile Network in Italy" award.
Another example of success story of Superb Network in Europe is referred to Austria. ZTE started to help H3A Austria to build 3G network in 2010, starting to deploy LTE in 2012, and 5G network in 2019. The success factors of project are based on the technical delivery model represented in Fig. 2. ZTE has built a unified virtualized system for the customer. The project implementation process uses the management mode of horizontal integration.
In just two years, through the unified management, planning and resource planning of sub-projects, including third parties, ZTE helped H3A rapidly complete virtualization platform building, PS network capacity expansion, IMS fixed and mobile network integration, 5GC new construction, UME cutover, NetMAX replacement and energy UEDM new construction.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, ZTE used cloud-based network service to support remote commissioning and tests, providing seamless technical support for projects from China to Austria, ensuring that the projects under construction were carried out as originally planned.
As a result of the overall project, in the 2021 Q1-Q2 Ookla speed test H3A won the awards for 5G speed and the CTO highly applauded the successful implementation of this project.
The new region of Telkomsel is the largest wireless relocation in the Telkomsel project after the south Sulawesi relocation in 2015/2016 and Puma relocation in 2018/2019. This relocation lasted five months from January to June 2021.
In a tight schedule, the project team overcame the difficulty of serious epidemic in Indonesia and complicated relocation scenario, quickly gathered ZTE's own human resources and partner resources, and completed the delivery within five months. At the peak time, the project team completed the relocation of 1,000 sites each month, setting a new record for the Indonesian relocation project.
The network indicator payload was increased by 20% or above. During the holiday in Ramadan there was no user complaint and the project team finally won written praise from the customer.
U Mobile (Malaysia)
Another great example of success story is in Malaysia. ZTE assisted U Mobile in Malaysia to build the 3G and 4G network. The two parties have been cooperating with each other for over 10 years. ZTE has provided services in the customer's several high-value areas, including the capital Kuala Lumpur and the tourist resort Shamba.
In early 2021, the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Committee (MCMC) announced that all communication companies would terminate 3G network services to lay the foundation for the introduction of 5G networks.
ZTE assisted U Mobile in deploying the multi-operator core network (MOCN) of four operators for RAN sharing, reducing network construction costs and improving network utilization.
The MOCN involves many difficulties in operator's wireless resource management and transmission resource sharing management. In addition, in the rainy season in Southeast Asia under the COVID-19 outbreak, more uncontrollable factors were introduced such as logistics, distribution, engineering construction and engineering quality.
ZTE established expert teams for technology, logistics, and engineering. The logistics team crossed 1,800 km within a week to ensure timely arrival of equipment and meet the engineering requirements. The engineering team actively coordinated epidemic prevention supplies and carried out installation and commissioning with high standards in any available time fragments.
Finally, ZTE helped U Mobile to build the world's first MOCN network of four operators with excellent experience and completed the rate test and optimization for each operator. ZTE ensured that MCMC and U Mobile successfully completed the demonstration at the press conference, winning high recognition from the organizer.
As a global leader in telecommunications and information technology, ZTE has set up an end-to-end engineering service system across the globe with its rich experience in the construction of telecommunications.
Over the past 10 years, ZTE has been pushing forward superb network deployments. Moving forward, ZTE will continue to work with customers and partners to provide high-quality networks and efficient services for its global users, so as to contribute to the development of the global digital economy.