Bringing 5G site management to the intelligent era
With the roll-out of 5G, it’s more important than ever for service providers to have a clear, complete and up-to-the-minute view of radio site performance and capacity. Knowing the current status of all site equipment helps service providers plan and manage their networks much more effectively. It optimizes capital expenditure, increases network availability, and improves operational efficiency.
In little more than a decade, we have seen three new generations of wireless technology introduced. Subscriber hunger for mobile broadband is as insatiable as ever, and there is a never-ending stream of new, more complex mobile use cases and applications. Connected cars, mission-critical connectivity and new virtual or augmented reality applications in sport and gaming are just the latest examples.
This places new demands on service providers and networks, driving the need for more, and more complex, radio sites – especially for 5G. This in turn is driving the need for expansion and modernization of traditional tower and rooftop sites, as well as the deployment of new smaller cell sites at street level.
Ericsson estimates that by 2025, 5G will reach 2.6 billion subscriptions covering up to 65 percent of the world’s population and generating 45 percent of the world’s total mobile data traffic. It is also expected that the total global mobile traffic will continue to grow by a factor of 4 to reach 160 exabytes (EB) per month in 2025.
Operating and managing radio sites efficiently requires a clear picture of their capabilities, capacity and performance at any given time. It also demands fast, effective responses to overloads, faults and failures, so that service performance is maintained with minimal ‘manual’ effort.
However, all too often, service providers are ‘running blind’ when it comes to site data. The information they need to make important decisions is often based on assumptions, spreadsheets and datasheet information rather than actual real-time data from the site.
While the ‘active’ elements of such radio sites – the baseband, radio and transport systems – are already proactively managed, the same is not true of the ‘passive’ site systems. These include the antenna, power, climate control, enclosure, and security systems.
In addition, today’s site domain is a fragmented one. Service providers deploy equipment from a multitude of vendors in their networks to meet cost, feature and other requirements. No two radio sites are the same. To make matters worse, the numerous manufacturers of power equipment, enclosures and site security systems each has its own monitoring systems. While each of these site products has interfaces that can provide lots of data, given the fragmentation it is almost impossible to harness all of this data to create a unified view of the whole site.
It is extremely difficult, and costly, to answer critical questions such as:
- What are the assets at a particular site?
- How much additional hardware can be added to an existing cabinet or rack?
- Is a security breach warning real, or a false alarm?
- What is causing increased power demands at a particular site?
- Are energy-saving features in radio and baseband systems really helping?
- Have I harnessed all the energy-saving features available?
- What is the carbon footprint of my site/network?
The Ericsson Smart Connected Site solution aims to change all that by intelligently integrating the management of all site elements. This offers service providers real-time insights on any location, ensuring a site and network that is:
Smart Connected Site makes a site more visible by unifying all site elements in one O&M tool. This enables automated network-level data collection and analysis of site data, which can be digitally visualized on a range of devices – whether in the NOC, or in the field on a tablet, smartphone or laptop. This will enhance resource planning and expansion, as well as fault and energy management. The result is a drastic reduction in lifecycle costs and variable costs like energy, through remote control and more precise, proactive maintenance.
With this solution, service providers benefit from more intelligent site management, as it includes 24/7 information about availability, capacity, network performance, energy management, along with unprecedented control over network stability. This is enabled through advanced AI routines such as machine learning, automation and predictive analytics – for the first time using data from both the ‘passive’ site systems and the ‘active’ radio, baseband and transport systems.
Smart Connected Site makes sites more secure by enabling smart site access management and smart locking solutions, with features such as centralized key management, wireless locking, and remote and local locking. By integrating surveillance systems such as digital CCTV cameras or alarm systems, security can be enhanced even further.
Ericsson has designed Smart Connected Site to be implemented without any need to modify existing operations model or ways of working. While some new site hardware may be needed to realize certain features, most of the functionality is software-enabled.
With Smart Connected Site we’re bringing cell site management fully into the digital age: exciting times ahead!