Spotlight on Tech

Automation of cell site swap processes

Paul Black
VP, Global Product Marketing
Rakuten Symphony
November 1, 2022
minute read

The world's operators are embarking on ambitious rollout plans for 5G. This means existing cell sites will need to be upgraded.

At the same time, in a number of countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia and now the UK Government, mandates have been introduced stipulating the removal of Chinese equipment from national networks.

Operators are staring down serious investments to get the job done. They are tirelessly assessing current operations to decide how to evolve these sites to meet next-gen needs. 

Given all the investment these moves will require, operators need to get smart, assess their current operations and decide how to change, replace and upgrade their existing sites. 

Automation is the answer

The answer to this conundrum is automation. Modern operators need to look at the whole process involved in swapping out cell site equipment and add technology solutions that automate to simplify and reduce costs. 

“If you can automate the beginning of a cell site's life, it is potentially the first step to the holy grail of autonomous networking.”
- Paul Black, VP, Global Product Marketing, Rakuten Symphony

Historically, the construction of cell sites has been dominated by laborious processes, multi-vendor engagements, and let us not forget HSE compliance, and the de facto tool of choice has long been Microsoft Excel. As a result, it is not uncommon to see copious amounts of paper being handed around and collected as each step of the acceptance and integration process moves slowly through the cycle. This approach is no longer feasible in the era of 5G. 

The holy grail of autonomous networking

The whole cycle has been crying out for simplification and the introduction of digital, zero-touch procedures. After all, if you can automate the beginning of a cell site's life, it is potentially the first step to the holy grail of autonomous networking.

Modern-day cell sites are under constant pressure as data growth continues to explode yearly. As a result, operators need to provide optimum coverage, reduced latency and excellent throughput to ensure customer experience and satisfaction is at the top of the agenda.

The cloud-native microservice-based architecture of the industry telecom platform Symworld and its specifically designed products of Site Manager, Symconnect and Sympulse can help catapult a telecom operator's site build operations into the digital age.

Anatomy of automation success

Let’s review the key components of a successful automated build and upgrade solution approach in Symworld:

  • Site Manager: Provides complete network lifecycle services, such as network design, planning, deployment and network operations, with end-to-end visibility and automation of all site-related tasks. Site Manager is a one-stop solution for managing site surveys, construction, acceptance and integration testing and other processes of all sites in the network.
  • Symconnect: A mobile app that runs on any mobile device that all site engineers use to manage and report on site build activities.
  • Sympulse: Its primary use is to perform all stationery and drive-by testing activities to ensure the site is ready for operations.

Every step in the acceptance and integration procedure of bringing a cell site into live operations has been considered to eradicate spreadsheets, paper and convoluted processes. The feature-rich products cover every aspect required to change cell sites. Coupled with the Symworld platform providing workflow, data and AI/ML services, operators can adapt, change and perfect a cell site's needs, supporting time, effort and increased efficiency savings.

The solution works effortlessly on any cloud and can be deployed in weeks with a foundational approach that comprises key principles of openness, configurability and digitization. Here’s what that means:

  • Openness: Irrespective of an existing setup and third-party applications, Symworld is open for true interoperability.
  • Configurability: Everything is configurable, with data serving as the lifeblood of the solution. Workflows can be optimized, changed and built to achieve optimal performance.
  • Digitalization: The E2E process of all templates, processes and procedures is digital and will transform your cell site operations to become smoother, quicker and more adaptable.

Rakuten Symphony site build solution is a game changer.

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