Automating Telco: How Operators are Applying AI and ML to Develop the Zero-touch Networks of the Future

As the Internet of Things expands and 5G is rolled out globally, it’s no longer feasible for telcos to rely on manual efforts to manage and maintain their networks.

In fact, autonomous networks have been on the cards for some time. Communications service providers (CSPs) have already deployed automation in some of their processes, in the shape of solutions that facilitate self-organizing networks (SON), network function virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networking (SDN). Now, thanks to advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) techniques in the past couple of years, they are able to go even further.

We are certain to see ever greater interest in network self-optimization and self-scaling, as systems become increasingly capable of “learning” how to identify and react to load and bandwidth requirements at any given moment and in any particular location. At the same time, the digital telecommunications network of tomorrow will rely on AI/ML to recognize any issues that might arise, and take appropriate action to correct them.

But the next steps won’t only be about using AI/ML algorithms to automate the way in which networks react to current events. The future of autonomous networks is all about AI/ML-powered predictions. This means that the network can constantly assess huge volumes of historical data about usage and problems, adjust to meet expected demand in advance, and actually prevent issues – or at least mitigate them so they do they impact customer service.

The keys to autonomous networks becoming the norm across the entire telecommunications industry are openness and standardization. As such, TM Forum Open Digital Architecture (ODA) and Open RAN have a huge part to play. They will make possible the standardized southbound APIs that will underpin the network communication protocols upon which effective AI/ML rely.

The effects of telecommunications network automation on this scale will be felt in many areas outside the traditional “core” telco landscape. The process will drive optimization and cost efficiencies in a huge number of developing vertical industries, impacting autonomous cars, Industry 4.0, smart cities and homes, telemedicine and many others.

Read more on this subject, and other directions in which the telco industry is expected to develop in 2022 and beyond, in Comarch’s new ebook – “Comarch 2022 Telco Trends Alert” – available now to download for free. Get your copy here.

Author

Michał Mędrala
Michał Mędrala
Head of OSS Consulting

As Head of OSS Consulting, Michał is responsible for the promotion and sales of Comarch OSS products. He majored in Telecommunication Networks and Services at the Technical University in Kraków. His previous roles have included that of Network Optimization Specialist at T-Mobile, as well as Analyst and Head of OSS Product Management at Comarch.

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