RAN Planning & Optimization in the Cloud-Native Era

Shinjini Sengupta
Product Launch Manager
Rakuten Symphony
April 28, 2023
minute read
Rakuten Symphony RAN Commander webcast
On screen from left: Arun Nair, Product Management for Intelligent Operations, Rakuten Symphony; Dr. Petrit Nahi, Senior Technical Staff, CTO Office, Rakuten Mobile; Mina Nicola, Head of RF-RAN, Rakuten Mobile. Moderator: Guy Daniels, Director of Content, Telecom TV.

Earlier this year, with the launch RAN Commander, a featured application of Symplan, we held a webinar titled “RAN planning and optimization in the cloud-native era.” Below is a roundup of four key topics we touched on during the session, with important takeaways for each.

  1. Integration/Automation and Intelligent Control 
  2. Data-Driven RAN Planning 
  3. Capital and Operational Cost Savings 
  4. Consolidation of Tools – 800/900 sites per RF Engineer 

Embracing next-gen RAN planning

Radio Access Network (RAN) planning is the process of designing, deploying, and optimizing wireless network infrastructure to ensure optimal performance and coverage. With the advent of 5G technology and the increased criticality of radio network planning, the current 5G infrastructure requires a higher degree of planning and optimization to meet today’s demands of speed and latency. 

To address these challenges, we saw the need to shift from the traditional RAN planning and optimization methods to next-gen RAN planning, which involves extensive integration and automation, data driven planning and consolidation of tools. 

Integration and Intelligent Control 

Next-gen RAN planning requires extensive integration and automation, covering several different parameters including physical location, software specifications, and subscriber experience, to ensure the veracity of the data to create the best possible plans. During the discussion, Dr. Nahi highlighted that without this integration, it is almost impossible to achieve automation and intelligent control - manual processes simply are not efficient for the networks of today and the future.

Data-Driven RAN Planning 

Integration and intelligent control can be combined with data-driven RAN planning for efficient coverage optimization, saving serious engineering effort and time. Nicola explained how mixing prediction and simulation data with actual subscriber data has enabled Rakuten Symphony to find more insights and algorithms to help fix any issue that impacts the subscriber. By leveraging big data analytics, telcos can optimize network coverage and identify potential issues before they affect the subscribers. 

Capital and Operational Cost Savings 

By taking this new approach to RAN planning and optimization, telcos will likely be able to experience a 30-40% savings on capex and opex. The main driver of these savings is automation and automating workflows, which reduce engineering costs. “It is not only about making sure that you have the best plan but also making sure that you have the appropriate plan, because you get feedback from where the subscribers are and where it’s appropriate to actually make the investments,” shared Nahi.

Consolidation of Tools – 800/900 sites per RF Engineer 

Traditionally, RF engineers used to hop between different applications and tools; one to perform drive tests, another to see fault monitors, and a completely different one to see RF predictions and simulations. With the RAN Commander solution, these disparate silos of data are unified into one lake, offering a single pane of glass view.

Having all of this in one place has allowed customers to reach 800-900 sites per RF engineer, whereas the industry average is typically around 200-300. Building upon this, when asked what is unique about Rakuten Symphony RAN Commander, Nair responded, “RAN Commander is a digital replica of your network.” What this means is it is evolving to being a network digital twin wherein customers have geospatial visualization and analytics of their network, one-click network health statistics available, and in-built smart algorithms that help them manage their coverage. 

To watch the webinar, please click here.

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