With the rapid commercial use of 5G networks at home and abroad, the network delivery cycle is getting shorter and shorter, and the delivery scenarios are becoming more and more complex. To improve delivery efficiency and quality, it is imperative to transform into automatic and intelligent network delivery. For this reason, ZTE has proposed an end-to-end intelligent and efficient delivery solution. Combined with ZTE iEPMS project delivery management system, the solution integrates intelligent and digital means into the whole process of network delivery to achieve high-quality and efficient delivery of global networks.
This solution consists of two parts: intelligent and simplified tools, and technology delivery platform.
Intelligent and Simplified Tools
In addition to basic product functions, the intelligent and simplified tools are systematic tools developed to improve product delivery or O&M efficiency, and achieve automatic delivery and O&M. They exist as independent tools or are integrated in the network management system, covering end-to-end products from wireless, wireline, to core network. The following describes network commissioning and configuration tools.
Efficient Wireless Site Commissioning
The commissioning and cutover of wireless networks is a complex process with various scenarios, where the preparation of configuration data is time-consuming and prone to errors. The robot developed by ZTE for automatic site configuration provides automatic template operations in the cutover process and supports multiple functions such as configuration planning, network optimization configuration, and configuration check. A large amount of tedious and repeated work is done by tools, thus reducing the average data preparation time to about 20% of the original.
ZTE has gradually developed remote and mobile-phone plug-and-play (PnP) for site commissioning based on the traditional local maintenance terminal (LMT) mode. In the PnP mode, after a wireless base station is installed and powered on, the network management server allocates preset parameters to the base station by identifying the information reported by the base station without manual intervention, so that the base station can automatically establish a communication link with the network management server and download versions and configuration files to complete site commissioning. The PnP mode does not require engineers to go to the site and thus saves the commissioning cost.
The mobile-phone PnP mode allows engineers to complete site commissioning and maintenance via a mobile phone APP, which reduces the commissioning time of a single base station by more than 30% compared with the traditional laptop mode. Because the mobile phone is easy to carry and can be connected to the base station through Wi-Fi, this mode reduces the impact of the rainy season and the battery life of the computer upon site commissioning. This allows engineers to focus more on the commissioning itself. At present, the mobile-phone PnP mode has become the mainstream way to commision the site.
Intelligent Wireless Drive Test
Drive test is an important method for checking performance indicators such as wireless network coverage and upload/download rates in wireless network optimization. However, the traditional drive test has high cost and low efficiency, which has always been the pain point of network optimization. ZTE has innovatively developed two new intelligent network optimization solutions: wireless network guardian (WNG) and virtual drive test (VDT).
WNG is an intelligent drive test solution based on cloud service and handheld terminals (Fig. 1). It has the following features:
—Multi-function and multi-scenario:
WNG supports drive test management, indicator evaluation, perception evaluation, engineering parameter check, and problem analysis. It is applicable to single-site acceptance test, cluster acceptance test, indoor coverage test, outdoor coverage test, and high-speed rail/subway scenarios.
One person in one vehicle with one terminal can get on road easily and execute the test task automatically with just one click.
—Simplified drive test:
The test is performed by WNG, which is simple and easy to operate. WNG enables efficient drive tests.
—Dramatic improvement in efficiency:
In traditional drive tests, it takes a lot of time to output reports. However, WNG automatically outputs the reports, which can shorten the reporting time.
WNG distributes test tasks through the cloud. The tasks from data collection to one-click report output are all completed on handheld terminals, greatly improving drive test efficiency.
VDT is a function of the wireless NetMAX/NGI tool. It collects and analyzes massive MR data with longitude and latitude information in the wireless network, associates them with call detail trace (CDT), and presents information about wireless coverage, quality and abnormal events on the road through GIS. Different from traditional drive tests in terms of data sources and technical principles, VDT does not need front-end drive tests and is mainly used for coverage evaluation. Through ZTE's continuous effort in function improvement, promotion and implementation, this new intelligent drive test mode is gradually being used by operators to replace traditional drive tests in network acceptance, which greatly reduces network delivery costs.
Agile Wireline Network Deployment
ZTE has developed the zero touch provisioning (ZTP) solution based on the traditional data communication network (DCN), which is suitable for new or expanded network scenarios. With the ZTP solution, engineers do not have to go to the site, a new site can be automatically connected, and the management and control system automatically generates and verifies scripts as planned and distributes the configuration in one-click mode. ZTP reduces the basic configuration steps and prevents engineers from going to the site, resulting in cost savings. When combined with data planning tools, ZTP can greatly improve the efficiency of network deployment.
In addition, ZTE continues to iteratively develop a bearer configuration translation tool for network replacement scenarios. This translation tool includes online and offline versions. It can translate not only the configuration of old equipment such as M6000 and M8900 switches, but also the equipment of other mainstream manufacturers. The tool accomplishes thousands of data configuration items efficiently and accurately, facilitating efficient project delivery in the replacement scenarios.
Intelligent and Simplified Core Network Delivery
The auto integration center (AIC) developed by ZTE implements automatic design, deployment, and test of hardware, cloud platform, MANO and VNF. The detailed level design (DLD) files automatically generated by the automatic design module (iDevise) can be directly imported into the automatic deployment module (iDeploy). iDeploy automatically deploys NEs such as VIM, NFVO, VNFM, EMS and VNF (Fig. 2). The deployment process is visualized with no user intervention.
ZTE also provides the lightweight server deployment and O&M tool Cloud Unikits, which supports batch provisioning, firmware upgrade, routine inspection and fault location of various types of servers, such as frame servers and rack servers. This can improve the provisioning efficiency and reduce O&M workload.
Technology Delivery Platform
Technology delivery platform (TDP) transforms product tools from isolated applications to a part of digital architecture by rapidly connecting them. In this way, project delivery planning, construction, optimization and acceptance are digitally interconnected, thus achieving the goal of delivery automation, standardization and global collaboration.
TDP consists of two parts: site work platform (iTech) and technology delivery expert system (TDES). As a platform for front-line site work, iTech provides digital collaboration and automatic tool interconnection. TDES is an automatic tool interconnection platform based on technology delivery data and management data flow. iTech has been put into operation, including iTech Web and Apps, and will be gradually deployed in global projects.
The innotive design of TDP empowers front-line site work, automatic deployment, and efficient collaboration through the intelligent digital platform, and also achieves digital connectivity of management and operations.
ZTE's end-to-end intelligent and efficient delivery solution simplifies operations and improves delivery quality, greatly improving delivery efficiency and reducing operators' Opex. This solution has been widely used in telecom networks around the world and gradually recognized by global mainstream operators.
Under the trend of digital transformation, ZTE is committed to being a driver of digital economy. Guided by customer demands, ZTE will accelerate digital innovation, comprehensively promote the digital transformation of network deployment, and become a reliable partner for global operators.