How do you prepare for a 5G network roll out?
Rolling out 5G technology is a key enabler for both mobile broadband enhancements and new use cases in mobile networks. 5G deployments go significantly beyond just adding another radio layer. However during deployment , overall network complexity is increased by inter-radio dependencies imposed by non-standalone architecture spectrum sharing needs, and modified deployment architectures to cover IoT and mission critical use cases. In this post, we look further into how our solution engineers collaborate to minimize these complexities and prepare operators for smooth 5G deployments.
Bridging between domains
Every engineer loves to solve problems and dive down into the detail of a technical domain in which they are experts. As engineers working in the end-to-end area, this applies to us as well. Fortunately though, the human brain puts limits on the amount of in-depth information you can assimilate and quickly recall. We have made a virtue out of this deficiency and defined our own area of expertise, namely ‘knowing just enough details of each of the different network domains to understand the necessities, while skillfully bridging between them’. In other words, we are expert generalists! In our daily work this leads to exciting journeys into the unknown technical depths of all the included domains, so the life of an end-to-end expert is anything but boring.
From node to network
Operating and planning mobile networks is typically structured into functional areas such as radio, transport and core networks. This reduces time-to-market for new network features, reduces cost, and increases reliability. A similar structuring is reflected in the product development of most network equipment vendors, including Ericsson. This technical domain structure is not always effective in addressing complex use cases that demand cross-domain alignment of product features and network configurations. Hence, strengthening the network-wide view in early phases of product development helps to make products and features better suited to customer demands. It also increases performance and reliability in realistic deployment scenarios, and smooths integration activities during customer deployments.
End-to-end network solutions
‘Thinking end-to-end’ as early as product development pays dividends. When looking at typical use cases in networks, we do a technical analysis of the required features in different domains. With a team of highly competent solution architects – familiar with different network domains and related deployment, operational, and support challenges – we look at each use case and extract the relevant requirements and recommendations and build a knowledge base. These recommendations can then be reused in the majority of customer cases, since there is usually a broad common baseline in a generic solution covering some 70-80% of all customer demands.
Fill the gap between products and customer projects
When we discuss these use cases with customers, the information gathered can be used to create assets (documentation) to be used in different phases of an engagement; from preliminary discussions to the eventual customer network deployment. The solution assets serve the most common demands, while being flexible enough to adapt the solution easily to customer-specific demands. Our assets enable customers to evolve their networks optimally by documenting specific state-to-state scenarios.
What assets are needed?
The end-to-end solution assets we create help with all phases of customer engagement from initial commercial discussions, network design, deployment and support. Ordering guides and acceptance criteria help to establish correctly specified procurements and commercial agreements. Planning and deployment assets such as design documentation and migration guidelines, are essential during project planning and implementation.
A coordinated effort
We always involve a wide range of useful contributors and stakeholders to generate the solution assets. These include product management, product development, customer support and professional services personnel; each providing their own expertise and unique customer insights and experience. This approach has resulted in some very useful contributions during the development cycle, which feed back into product development and align solutions better to customers’ needs and future expectations.
The solution documentation goes into considerable detail, and we also include a verification activity to make sure that all recommendations are technically feasible and produce the intended network behavior. This leads to a much more dependable source of information than relying solely on individual product documentation. The outcome of the verification activity, including the lab configuration and the test case documentation, also forms part of the delivered assets and can be used for customer test activities or acceptance test cases. The bundled assets are used to industrialize customer deployments by providing a common configuration and deployment baseline.
Faster deployment of complex solutions
Besides the de-risking aspect, the solution documentation helps to speed up complex solution deployment. It supports competence ramp-up during early planning. Design overview and detailed design documents can be used as templates for required solution documentation, and costly design flaws are minimized. Required deployment services can be planned more exactly based on the deployment guidelines. This all leads to considerable reductions in time bringing the solution into the network.
Which solutions are available today?
In the past year, we have worked on a number of end-to-end solutions addressing use cases that demand competence from different network domains. After executing a pilot project with Elastic RAN, we continued by developing Network Slicing, Dual Connectivity (EN-DC), Ericsson Spectrum Sharing, RAN Compute Interconnect, and RAN Security end-to-end solutions.
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