Operators must pay close attention to network planning and asset inventory if they’re to get the most out of the next-gen tech.

5G means more business opportunities for ambitious operators. If they play their network cards right, they can tap into new and potentially lucrative markets such as real-time video gaming on smartphones, factory‑floor automation and smart driving. Network slicing, where dedicated resources are set aside for a service or a private enterprise network, plays a crucial role in making this happen. Consumers and business customers are more likely to pay premiums for services if they are delivered over high‑performance networks.

 

Getting 5G right is a daunting challenge for network planners, however. According to the 3rd Generation Partnership Project, a standards organisation, three types of 5G services will emerge: eMBB (enhanced Mobile Broadband); URLLC (Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communications); and mMTC (massive Machine Type Communications). Each requires appropriate and significant network resources.

 

Take eMBB. When operators are planning 5G networks, one priority must be indoor eMBB coverage that can support ultra-high-definition-video — along with augmented and virtual reality services —  if they are to attract digital-savvy consumers. By some estimates, if operators are to provide a top-notch 360-degree video experience — where a view in every direction is recorded at the same time —   downlink speeds of up to 4.2Gbps will be needed. Network planners will also note that multiple network paths are required for 360‑degree real‑time video streaming. Even if provision of 4.2Gbps downlink speeds is not an immediate operator priority, eMBB and ever‑higher data rates is a firm direction of 5G travel.

 

Automated driving also asks serious questions of both eMBB and URLLC capabilities. So-called ‘assisted driving’, at the lower end of the automation scale, doesn’t put the network under enormous strain. Between 100ms and 1000ms latency (or response time) and 0.2Mbps data transmission speeds per vehicle should be good enough here. Highly or fully automated vehicles, however, demand much from the network. Sprightly latency times of between 1ms and 10ms are required along with vehicle transmission speeds of 100Mbps.

 

URLLC is similarly important for video-gaming, factory-floor automation and increasing machine productivity. Any ‘hops’ — links between antennas — introduced into the network must then be kept to a minimum if latency is not to drag. Likewise, network planners need to take account of mMTC requirements — high level of connections combined with low power consumption —  if they are to make a serious play in Internet of Things. Smart-meter reading and smart parking need smart networks.

5G network planning starts with network inventory

Without an accurate and real-time view of existing network assets, sophisticated and cost‑efficient network planning simply will not happen. Suntech, a specialist in operations support systems and business support systems (OSS/BSS), understands this only too well. It’s why SunVizion Network Inventory, a comprehensive resource-management system developed by Suntech, includes a network planning module.

 

By combining SunVizion Network Inventory with network-planning tools, which work from the same database, operators are better-equipped to deal with the planning and design complexities posed by 5G and other new network deployments. Quick service orchestration and deployment of network slices, for example, becomes much easier. Optimal allocation of cable runs, to support indoor eMBB, becomes a given. Inside plant inventory from Suntech is far-reaching, ranging from service termination points within a building structure (apartments and rooms) to the presentation of network elements on floor-plan views.

 

In a previous blog — Digital telcos need top-notch network inventory — we saw that SunVizion Network Inventory ensures OSS/BSS are bang up‑to‑date about availability of both physical (infrastructure) and logical (connectivity) network resources. And by having a central repository of network inventory through the physical, IP and service layers — geographically represented on a highly accurate map — network planning is much easier. No need for cross-departmental and time-consuming consultation to gather all the necessary information on existing assets. Knowing which resources are available and missing also make for more meaningful return-on-investment (ROI) calculations.

 

But there’s more to SunVizion Network Planning & Design than a deep understanding about network assets, important though that is. The network-planning module is designed specifically to reduce time and cost of implementing new services and architectures. 

 

How is this achieved? For a start, unique algorithms munch on a variety data sources to aid the planning process. Not only is existing infrastructure and an area’s topography taken into account, but the possibility and cost of leasing equipment from other operators becomes part of the planning mix. Detection of power-supply conflicts, and calculation of power consumed by each network element, are other features of SunVizion Network Planning & Design.

 

Further, to help with those all-important ROI calculations, a bill of materials report is automatically generated for newly designed networks. Operators can also rest assured they have the best possible optimization of cable run, and that planning is always based on up-to-date information about existing infrastructure. Detection of errors and inconsistencies in the design process gives operators more peace of mind.

 

Early detection of possible conflicts between mutually exclusive plans is another benefit when you run asset inventory and network planning in one system. In many cases, operators rolling out 5G will have fixed-line broadband networks to maintain and upgrade. Scope then exists for rationalisation of different projects if network planners are not working in silos. This is exactly what SunVizion enables.

 

Simply put, different teams can see what each other is doing on the network. The system has a unique mechanism that allows for network planners to merge projects with each other. Problems caused by the creation of multiple plans on shared resources are then eliminated and the entire process of rolling out new network segments becomes much more streamlined.

 

Network planning, done right, needs accurate asset inventory. By combining the two in one system, however, Suntech takes network planning to another level of sophistication. Operators can only benefit as they contemplate 5G and other network rollouts.