Using the power of data, automation and artificial intelligence, leading service providers are reimagining the way they operate their networks. Several recent AI-based pilot use cases highlight that the future of network operations is already here.

Ericsson Operations Engine at Mobile World Congress 2019

By 2024, Ericsson predicts there will be 1.5 billion 5G subscriptions for enhanced mobile broadband and 4.1 billion global cellular IoT connections. The volumes of data generated from this activity will be staggering.

To handle this complexity new cognitive technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), are making it possible to derive value from this data and shift network operations from being reactive to data-driven, predictive, and proactive operations.

Recent AI-based use cases in the Middle East and Asia are an indication that these technologies are gaining traction.

Ericsson and Saudi Arabian operator Mobily worked on three intelligent operations-based use cases, utilizing AI, automation and the power of data.

The use cases focused on how Mobily can achieve faster rollout of network services and manage growing network complexity with the introduction of 5G and IoT technologies.

The conceptual solution is based on the Ericsson Operations Engine, a new AI-based managed services offering launched in January 2019. With Mobily, Ericsson is demonstrating how anomaly detection can uncover hidden patterns of site problems, proactively detect sleeping cells and network performance degradation and preventing it from becoming a user issue.

Eng. Ahmed Aboudoma, CEO, Mobily, says: “By bringing in advanced technologies that support digital transformation, Mobily's vision is aligned with vision 2030 of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Given our continuous investment in advanced networks that support artificial intelligence applications through existing collaboration with Ericsson, Mobily is working on advanced technologies that highlight the Kingdom’s role as a center for innovative excellence.”

Telecom Egypt and Ericsson completed the successful deployment of AI to its full-stack telco cloud infrastructure. The objective is to operate telco cloud environment intelligently and efficiently to enable cloud Automation and orchestration. Together with the Egyptian operator, Ericsson has demonstrated how AI can be used to monitor internal traffic between NFVi layers, providing a fast way to identify faults and generate suggestions for resolution.

Adel Hamed, Chief Executive Officer at Telecom Egypt says: “We are keen to lead the way in the region when it comes to Artificial Intelligence, as it paves the road for implementation of new technologies across all our markets. Partnering with Ericsson enables us to achieve our strategic goals when it comes to enhanced operational effectiveness and customer experience."

Having completed proof of concept trials, the companies are expanding their co-creation partnership to industrialize AI use cases.

And in India, Ericsson and Bharti Airtel are collaborating to proactively address network complexity and boost user experience supporting the service provider’s experience-centric operations management.

Randeep Shekhon, CTO, Bharti Airtel, says AI and machine learning will be key to Airtel's customer experience centric operations management.

“Our partnership with Ericsson is example of the power of real-world and collaborative innovation. With these initiatives, we would continue to maintain our network differentiation and provide superior customer experience. We look forward to taking this journey together to the next level."

In 2018, Ericsson also implemented an innovative method for radio access network design based on machine learning for Softbank in Japan, cutting lead times by 40 percent compared to traditional network design methods.

AI and automation are essential to building and managing the ever-increasingly complexity of current and future networks. These capabilities are evolving operations from being network-centric, to user experience-centric.  The AI-based Ericsson Operations Engine addresses this increasing network complexity, including service providers’ need to handle growing volume of devices, multiple technologies (4G, 5G, IoT), and more diverse service requirements.

Ericsson has invested significantly in AI and automation and in 2018 established a Global Artificial Intelligence Accelerator (GAIA) in India to focus on AI research and development.