As networks evolve, so do the skill-sets needed to design, deploy and maintain them. More software skills are needed at all levels as automation plays a larger role in everything from RF testing to how the network is monitored and managed. Networks are more software-defined than ever, and IT skills are in high demand. What skills are telecom employers seeking, and how can people augment their current skills?
In its current form, 5G is focused on delivering an enhanced mobile broadband experience to consumers. But, in terms of creating new revenue opportunities, operators are looking to enterprise digital transformation to deliver 5G use cases that draw on the full feature set of eMBB, massive IoT, and ultra-reliable low-latency communications. As 5G continues to evolve in tandem with adjacent technologies like edge computing and artificial intelligence, it will deliver on the promise of making industries “smart.”
As communications service providers around the world continue to evolve their 4G networks and deploy 5G, increased network complexities and financial and competitive pressures require more efficient ways to deploy and manage them. At the core of the network, deployment is site engineering, which encompasses all the required steps in the process of designing a network site.
Intelligent Site Engineering is an innovative way of working for the planning, site design, and acceptance of network roll-out projects such as extensions, modernizations, or swaps. It is now possible to have enhanced visibility and control when intelligence is applied to site engineering – therefore, we view Intelligent Site Engineering as an integral part of the standard deployment process to drive efficiency. Despite their important role in the deployment process, traditional site engineering approaches have their limitations and are ripe for digital transformation. Many of these issues are explored in this paper: rising costs of site visits including multiple site visits and the associated travel lengths and environmental implications, excess or waste material due to inaccuracies in measurements, and human errors. Moreover, skilled tower climbers are in short supply today, and tower climbs present significant safety risks.
Our Intelligent Site Engineering service not only eliminates many of the risks and pain points for service providers but also expands current capabilities. With digitalized sites and the creation of digital twins, engineers can remotely access the site with the highest degree of accuracy and predictability when taking measurements and making engineering decisions. Beyond site deployment, accurate and detailed data provides additional benefits such as savings in operational support costs, as well as facilitating planning and future network upgrades. The service improves the deployment process by increasing accuracy, efficiency, speed, and sustainability. Our work so far indicates that site revisits due to quality issues in the survey phase have now been reduced from 1 in 10 to 1 in every 1,000 sites. Projects in North America have shown that site material list creation times have been reduced by over 40 percent. Remote site engineering work can now include quantifying site materials and equipment, all while reducing tower climbs and minimizing personnel and project risks. A site survey can now be completed by one engineer in as little as one hour.
Many CSPs are deploying 5G NSA intending to evolve to 5G SA as the technology matures. This calls for the transition from 5G NSA to 5G SA to be straightforward for the CSP and transparent to the end-user. This article describes ways to make that transition happen, focusing on the 5G core.
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