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In conjunction with the Huawei Global Analyst Summit (HAS) 2022, Telecom Review Asia interviews Aaron Jiang, President of SingleRAN product line, Huawei, on how IntelligentRAN realizes the mobile network of intelligent business operation, intelligent network optimization, as well as intelligent operation and maintenance to connect all things in the era of intelligent connection.

In order to power quality network performances and experiences in the era of intelligent connections, operators need to efficiently utilize limited resources in a growingly sophisticated environment.

With a surge in 5G-enabled services in personal, home and industry applications in the foreseeable future, diversifying services will pose different requirements on network coverage, latency and capacity. Coupled with inter-cell interference resulting in inconsistent experiences among users, as well as increased energy consumption driven by a potential hundredfold jump in traffic, network operators are challenged to radically transform RAN architecture, a critical building block of mobile networks, to power optimal and green network performance.

“Operators need to introduce intelligence to the RAN such that it can coordinate multiple bands and enable rapid service provisioning. This upgraded RAN should be able to allocate network resources in a way that is user-centric,” said Aaron Jiang, President of SingleRAN product line, Huawei. “The goal is accurately predicting and preventing faults, and eventually achieve a zero-fault network to deliver the best performance in terms of energy consumption and performance.”

Designed to help operators build autonomous networks, Huawei’s IntelligentRAN is a new wireless network architecture that leverages service operation intelligence, experience optimization and simplified O&M. Global operators including China Telecom, Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone are already gearing toward intelligent RAN, converging automation and intelligence to springboard digital and intelligent transformations to provide NaaS.

However, Aaron shared that the interest in intelligent RAN is not limited to operators within the telecom industry. “Beyond the telecom industry, global communities are embracing digitalization and calling for wireless networks to become more intelligent to serve as the underlying infrastructure for the future digital world.”

Intelligent and Energy-Saving RAN

Elaborating on Huawei’s IntelligentRAN, Aaron highlighted three value propositions that vastly impact operators on service, network and O&M levels.

Firstly, by leveraging deep learning technologies in intelligent service, operators can achieve SLA-committed networks during the service-provisioning stages. “Even when there is a change in service requirements, IntelligentRAN can dynamically change the parameters of the network to cater to the SLAs, without having to alter cabling of sites to meet the future requirements of flexible manufacturing,” Aaron explained.

Secondly, the intelligent RAN can perform intelligent analysis to help reduce network alarms and the time needed for fault demarcations. It can accurately predict hardware and software faults, and generate performance degradation trends. Compared to traditional RANs that reactively handle faults, the intelligent RAN allows operators to adopt a predictive approach and mitigate issues before they arise.

Thirdly, in a multi-RAT, multi-site, heterogenous network, the intelligent RAN is able to perform predictions on multiple services based on the service types of subscribers. Apart from ensuring consistent user experiences, the intelligent RAN is able to perform autonomous decisions on network resource allocation.

With green networks becoming a priority for many operators, Aaron added that the intelligent RAN can effectively improve energy efficiency, such that consumption increases marginally even with a hundredfold surge in traffic growth in the future.

The capabilities of Huawei’s IntelligentRAN are founded on its portfolio of innovative, automated technologies. In 2020, Huawei PowerStar 1.0 clinched the GSMA GLOMO “Best Mobile Innovation for Climate Action” award. In 2021, Huawei debuted PowerStar 2.0 to lower base station power consumption during low-traffic hours. To date, PowerStar has been deployed at over 800,000 base stations across China, effectively reducing power consumption by 400 million watts per hour every year. Similarly, Huawei’s IntelligentRAN is focused on delivering energy efficiency without compromising on network performance and user experience.

Industry Consensus and Use Cases on IntelligentRAN

At the MWC22 roundtable, Huawei convened more than 40 operators and over 27 industry partners to discuss the business values and strategic goals of introducing intelligence to networks.

Across the board, operators welcomed the idea of intelligent networks, with the consensus that its solutions can deliver greater business values. Aaron also noted a shared sentiment among attendees that energy efficiency and performance KPIs are important considerations in an intelligence evaluation system, to “not only determine how much Opex is being saved, but how operators can improve quality and raise revenue”.

In terms of strategic goal-setting, there is a consensus that the telecom industry would implement the initial phase of the intelligent network by 2025. During this period, the industry must work hand in hand to transform and innovate across network, service and operation levels. Stakeholders at the roundtable also spotlighted key intelligent RAN use cases, with emphasis placed on making networks intelligent and green, accurately predicting network faults, as well as ensuring SLA assurance.

As a global ICT leader, Huawei spearheads the ongoing development of intelligent networks, or iNetwork, to improve user experience and bit efficiency of a multi-band network to benefit operators. This solution integrates multi-band coordination based on intelligent grids, flexible mobility, camping policies, and trajectory predictions. Compared to traditional energy-saving approach, operators can leverage AI to carry out energy-saving in autonomous ways.

Citing a pre-commercial use case, Aaron shared that the IntelligentRAN has been tested at 47 network sites in Sichuan province, China, and found to have successfully reduced network power consumption by 20% without compromising user experience.

With intelligent operations, or iOperations, intelligence can be introduced to operations to perform self-configuration, self-recovery and self-optimization. Integrating self-configuration features, the intelligent RAN is able to automate entire site integration processes. Self-recovery of the network includes predicting and preventing network faults to achieve zero fault in future. With self-optimization capabilities, the intelligent RAN can meet multiple KPIs based on MDT high-precision coverage map to effectively eliminate the need for drive tests and site visits.

In another pre-commercial use case, Huawei has carried out a project in Anhui province, China, to intelligently predict potential high-temperature faults. This solution can predict the board temperature trend five days in advance and provide high temperature prediction and warning with an accuracy of 90%.

Finally, intelligent service, or iService, offers fast and precise provisioning of service and service-SLA assurance.

Concluding, Aaron said, “Intelligent capabilities will be the core capability for future networks. We believe that intelligent RAN will be critical to building a fully intelligent and connected world, and hope to work closely with industry partners to transform wireless networks from the Internet of everything to the intelligent Internet of everything.”

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