Skip navigation
Like what you’re reading?

How “seeing” the invisible in the transport network helps unlock the power and potential of 5G

With 5G rolling out globally and the steady transition to cloud-native core and radio access solutions, it has never been more important to consider the vital role that transport network and automation play in delivering on the 5G promise. Ericsson’s new Transport Automation Controller gives you the ability to “see” exactly what is going on in your network, making it more reliable, more effective, and more efficient.

Head of Product Line, Transport Automation

How “seeing” the invisible in the transport network helps unlock the power and potential of 5G

Head of Product Line, Transport Automation

Head of Product Line, Transport Automation

In a recent discussion with RCR Wireless News, I outlined how the evolution of mobile networks requires higher speeds, greater capacity and new service capabilities, and how backhaul and fronthaul are playing an increasingly vital role in the evolution of 5G to tackle those challenges and realize its full potential.

Back in the days of GSM, mobile transport was more about providing coverage and reliable connectivity from the radios to the controller, and time-division multiplexing (TDM) was sufficient as a transport technology. Mobile broadband and high-speed packet access (HSPA) brought increased peak capacities and technologies such as IP/MPLS were introduced to the backhaul for the first time to improve the efficiency of the transport network. 5G also opened new industrial and enterprise use cases that required new types of network architectures where reliable transport will have an even bigger role to play. The introduction of centralized RAN and Cloud RAN will be a major part of the story in the future, with Cloud RAN in particular acting as one of the inflection points for transport as the transport infrastructure needs to reliably connect the distributed Cloud RAN elements and the existing basebands.

With the growing complexity of Cloud RAN networks, the ever-increasing number of connected devices, and capacities, the co-existence of multi-generation mobile networks, multi-vendor implementations, and virtualizations, automation becomes a must. Automating the transport network to speed up service creation and maximize reliability and availability will be more or less mandatory for the communications service providers (CSPs) since it’s impossible to manually manage this complexity at scale, with quality and speed.

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that network leaders often cite network automation as being among their top three strategic priorities – nevertheless, even though automation is seen as critical to improving the network availability, performance and OPEX, the level of automation is still relatively low.

One of the main issues preventing CSPs from automating their networks is poor network visibility. CSPs are still in the dark when it comes to understanding the network state, and when you don’t “see”, it’s hard to know what to do. Additionally, they are also looking at how to identify root causes quickly and accurately to minimize problem isolation times and reduce site visits, optimize performance and increase reliability, maximize energy efficiency, and become more sustainable, to name a few.

The solution – Ericsson Transport Automation Controller

Ericsson Transport Automation Controller addresses many of these concerns, with the added advantage of being future-proof, empowering service providers to run their transport network proactively and effectively respond to the evolving demands of 5G networks.

The transport controller has three main functions - it observes, it analyzes, and it acts.

Observation is key in providing real-time visibility of the transport network, offered via an intuitive user interface (UI) with interactive maps and dashboards. Equipping service providers with a single pane of glass view of the transport network state and performance, the Ericsson Transport Automation Controller helps them find the needle in the haystack, enabling them to focus on preventing and fixing issues rather than constantly troubleshooting.

In addition to providing best-in-class observability, the transport controller collects and analyzes data in near real-time, providing CSPs with actionable insights not just about what is happening in the network, but why it’s happening. The use of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) answers thorny questions such as where the problem originated, can performance degradations be dealt with without a site visit, would a different configuration yield a better result, and are we wasting resources and energy on things that could be done differently?

Last but not least, when the transport controller has developed a real-time understanding of the network state, what is happening and where, it can automate and control network operations. Closed-loop functionalities such as automated service provisioning, automated AI and ML- powered traffic prediction and steering, and preventive maintenance not only improve network performance and time to market, they also help reduce human errors and misconfigurations, some of the prime reasons for network issues.

The future – better performance, greater efficiency, happy customers

No matter what technology communications service providers deploy, end users want the same thing – reliable, available, high-speed connectivity.

Considering this, there is no doubt that transport will remain a key focus area as service providers look to realize the 5G potential by increasing performance and delivering differentiated experiences while continuing progress towards net-zero targets.

To develop a strong transport strategy, CSPs need to focus on a number of key priorities - these include optimizing network performance to maximize capacity, minimizing complexity and maximizing efficiency with real-time root cause analysis and SDN automation, reducing costs by eliminating unnecessary site visits, and ensuring that networks are energy-efficient and sustainable. By doing so, communications service providers can realize the benefits such as improved user experience, reduced churn, and remaining future-ready for evolving use cases such as packet fronthaul and network slicing.

Read more

Ericsson Transport Automation Controller

The Ericsson Blog

Like what you’re reading? Please sign up for email updates on your favorite topics.

Subscribe now

At the Ericsson Blog, we provide insight to make complex ideas on technology, innovation and business simple.