In today’s broadband economy, geospatial technology matters more.
New technologies such as self-driving cars, edge computing, and the Internet of Things (IoT) increase the need for high bandwidth, low latency networks. With 5G comes a dependency on location not seen before. In today’s broadband economy, geospatial technology matters more.
Identifying the right places and mapping key locations into a new network is the easiest way to improve the service provided, increase customer satisfaction, and drive loyalty to a network. To make this process easier and deliver more accurate results, telecom providers need to understand the geospatial needs for 5G service across large sections of the nation and even the world.
In the telecom world, the location has never been more important. Today’s consumer is used to having the technology and access to search for information to help their lives go smoothly, such as the nearest gas station, best restaurant, or best travel route. People expect to work on the go or locate the information needed to be productive or entertained at any time, from streaming a video to driving directions.
This is driving the need for 5G. New technologies such as self-driving cars, edge computing, and the Internet of Things (IoT) increase the need for high bandwidth, low latency networks. With 5G comes a dependency on location not seen before. In today’s broadband economy, geospatial technology matters more.
5G promises multi-Gbps speeds, low latency, bigger capacity, and reliability that will create new user experiences. But there are limitations of the targeted 5G millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum that make creating a nationwide network difficult. The higher band frequencies of mmWave don’t traverse as far as lower bands and are easily absorbed by buildings, trees, and even rain. This requires the strategic placement of multiple small cells to cover the same area as sites with 3G/4G lower band wireless frequencies. Because these small cells won’t be built overnight, hybrid wireless networks that leverage frequencies across the wireless spectrum need to be planned and built.
Finding and mapping key locations into a new mobile network is the easiest way to improve the service provided, boost customer satisfaction, and drive loyalty. To make this process easier and deliver better results, telecom providers must understand the geospatial needs for 5G. A better understanding of these complex needs allows for accurate planning of the infrastructure needed in every location, whether rural or urban.
Consumers are expecting a fast and easy transition to 5G. For businesses hoping to incorporate the internet of things (IoT), telecom networks need to collect and understand enough data to develop user behavior patterns and predict future use. This is how geographic information systems (GIS) can help by revealing insights and helping telecom providers stay on the cutting edge.
From planning the buildout of a new network to providing better customer service, GIS plays a part in every stage of the customer’s experience. By adding this technology and the insights GIS offers into their daily operations, telecoms can incorporate workflows and automation to revolutionize the way they provide the service.
Understanding Geographic Information Systems
Every part of a telecom’s business involves location. All the important information and key data points, including customer information, network ownership, weather forecasts, and competitor information, are often managed in separate systems. Using maps and location is often the most intuitive way to gain true operational awareness about where things are happening and how certain user and network behaviors relate to each other.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) bring that information together. This creates one central location for anyone in the organization to use, make, and share maps based on their identity and job role. A GIS includes multiple aspects, including:
- Maps: Maps act as the interchangeable geographic layers of the system. They allow users to engage in the framework you set and giving you the ability to incorporate data layering and analytics. The ability to see your data on a map can give you a better idea of what users are doing in distinct locations and how they interact with each other and your product offerings.
- Data: The data points collected can include images of locations around the world, boundaries, and routes through an area, user demographics within a geographic location, the urban infrastructure within a city, and how residents move around the area.
- Apps: These are the lenses through which maps and data are viewed and interrogated. There are many different jobs and roles within a telecom organization, so a Complete GIS comes with a wide variety of apps to help staff make the right decision.
GIS sees multiple pieces of data by leveraging what they have in common: where they happen. Service providers can analyze multiple data points to see larger insights on behavior patterns, such as the places consumers travel and how often, which forms of transit become congested and lead to customers overloading the network, and most importantly, which apps they use and how often.
But the usefulness of GIS data goes far beyond telecom operations. Innovative professionals use these insights to power changes that serve the greater good worldwide. Depending on the industry and desired application, GIS data can map the spread of communicable diseases, such as COVID-19, and help local hospitals to create a treatment plan. Users can observe the changes to a particular environmental system to see if it needs to be preserved or monitor the real-time progress of severe weather events to keep people informed and safe.
A complete Geographic Information System (GIS) consists of:
- A System of Record to maintain accurate records of network assets.
- A System of Engagement to securely share maps with authorized users.
- A System of Insight to perform analysis and put data to work.
- Configurable, lightweight apps to view, question, or collect information.
- A built-in library of demographic, socioeconomic, and environmental data sets.
While many networks have these pieces, many providers keep them separate. They fail to combine the information, so a deeper level of insights is never reached. Having one complete system is a better way to contain data and extract insights. It’s also the best way to start incorporating automation and workflows into the business. This makes progress much faster than when tasks are done manually.
How GIS Can Help Telecommunications Providers Grow and Expand Rapidly
GIS can be used to great success in the telecommunications industry, including designing and applying efficient infrastructure to power 5G. Throughout the stages of development, GIS makes each step easier.
For Jio, a rapidly growing telecom in India, GIS has helped them grow to become the nation’s largest 5G mobile network provider. The use of workflows and automation has made the company a household name in under five years. Starting with a standard map of the region, Jio uses the technology to layer in the number of anticipated users that will use the 5G network, the number of towers needed, and the supporting infrastructure for each tower.
GIS allows decision-makers at Jio to create models of each phase and coordinate the construction to make them a reality. From scheduling deliveries in remote locations to delivering maps for workers to reach the site, GIS makes the process easier.
Jio uses GIS in every part of their effort, from building the 5G infrastructure to providing leading customer service for existing clients. After the research and development to expand network coverage, different departments use GIS to market and deploy the network. Jio’s marketing team uses the data to analyze consumer habits and demographics and then create marketing campaigns that target them. Salespeople can target areas within the network’s service area to offer special incentives or an increased marketing push. GIS can help door-to-door salesmen by offering them smart maps of leads to visit. The insights provided by GIS can increase customer satisfaction by providing a smoother experience that keeps the customer informed and anticipates their needs.
What GIS Provides to Telecommunication Companies
It’s surprising how many networks begin operations without looking at geospatial location. With the addition of this information, new answers to long-standing problems can become clear. GIS can help companies see insights that result in smoother operations and cost savings. The geographical analysis allows companies to see what may not be obvious on paper.
“One way GIS is helping us reduce costs is when we do our analysis geographically, we see that we are renting backbones from other companies. When our backbones are too close, we cancel the contracts with other companies, and we can do our infrastructure for ourselves,” says Gustavo Arditti, Marketing Intelligence Senior Manager for Claro Brasil.
Submarine Telecoms (SubTel) Forum faced a long-term issue with trying to collect and share data. Ninety-eight percent of the world’s internet runs on submarine fiber-optic cables. Initially, a freely available mapping tool seemed impossible to find. subtle Forum needed a mapping system that could include submarine cable data from various sources and transfer it into a format that could easily be used by people worldwide.
The nature of this complex data made it harder to find a solution. The database needed to track almost 500 current and planned cable systems across the world. Also, to be useful to industry professionals, the following data points needed to be present and searchable:
- Client name
- Project name
- Global region
- System length
- Overall capacity
- Landing points
- Related data centers
- Project owners
By creating a GIS-enabled database, SubTel Forum and its partners can access and use this data in new ways, analyze patterns, and predict issues. Being able to access this data has helped them find new, multidimensional insights. Standardizing the data included has made it easier to collect and enter new information into the growing database.
As many enterprises have discovered, using GIS to increase data collection and meaningful analysis of these points opens up new possibilities. The benefits of GIS can include:
- Using the power of AI/machine learning to analyze IoT data, which allows more effective planning across the network’s existing—and planned—infrastructure.
- Cutting down the time needed to survey new locations for infrastructure buildout.
- Accuracy in planning the location and size of towers to power 5G service.
- Real-time network monitoring, resulting in less downtime, better reliability, and more responsive service to customers.
- Ability to run advanced marketing to users in specific locations and see whether they work.