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Editorial

Autonomous networks in the spotlight at FutureNet World

What is the current state of play?

STL partners’ recent survey revealed that operators have automated around 40% of processes in single domain use cases, illustrating that progress is being made. However, less than 10% of operators surveyed reported being fully automated in any single network or service domain, demonstrating that we have some considerable way to go until full autonomy is achieved. This was further illustrated by Dr. Haiping Che, SVP, Chief Digital Transformation Officer, Huawei Technologies at FutureNet World on the 21st of April. Dr. Che explained that in 2020 self-fulfilling networks were available to their network operator customers, in 2025 Highly autonomous self-healing networks will be available, and 2030 is slated as the year for full autonomy, as self-optimising networks will be available to network operators.

Autonomous Networks was a central theme at Futurenet World (20/21 April), senior executive speakers from some of the world’s leading CSPs – Telefonica, China Unicom, T-Mobile, BT,  Orange amongst others. The journey towards fully autonomous networks was a discussion that attracted much attention and the audience was interested to hear about the progress China Unicom is making, outlined in a presentation by Li Tong, Deputy General Manager, China Unicom Intelligent Network Center. Li’s case study went into detail upon their recent Autonomous Networks deployment – how it was achieved & what the outcome was. Next up, Huawei’s Dr. Haiping Che, discussed how cohesion in autonomous networks can empower digital operation transformation in the today’s ‘intelligent era’.

‘There is an increasing sense of belief that now is the time to realize the vision’

FutureNet World’s Founder and CEO, Giles Cummings summarized the state of play:  Autonomous networks enable digital transformation for telecoms and wider vertical industries – it is a game-changer. Although there is still some way to go, there is an increasing sense of belief that now is the time to realize the vision – why?  1. We now have the necessary computing and processing power. 2. Industry organizations are coming together and reaching a consensus on tech specs and roadmaps & 3. We are getting clarity on the business value and potential that can be leveraged.

How China Unicom introduced Autonomous Networks

Next up Li Tong, Deputy General Manager, China Unicom Intelligent Network Center presented Autonomous Networks Empower Digital Operation Transformation

The presentation focused on:

  • New challenges and opportunities: How to deliver the promise of the zero-x experience to the customer and improve operational efficiency?
  • The creative tri-unity system introduction and how China Unicom is implementing Autonomous Networks?
  • The practice of network AI & automation: The outcome in 2020 and how did they achieved it?

Huawei’s take on industry progress

Dr. Haiping Che, SVP, Chief Digital Transformation Officer, Huawei Technologies then delivered a presentation titled, Cohesion in Autonomous Networks Accelerates Industries Transformation

The presentation focused on:

  • Business as the key driver of Autonomous Networks (AN) and how we should leverage the AN to facilitate the business’s closed-loop.
  • Operation automation being the key focus for CSPs and how operational knowledge can empower the intelligent operation of networks.
  • The future of networks being autonomy, and how we can cooperate to speed up network autonomy.

FutureNet World Awards

IIn a FutureNet World first, China Unicom and Huawei collaborated to become finalists in not only one but two FutureNet World Award categories! Their joint entry in the Operator Award – Best example of a successful Automation deployment – received praise from the judges as an impressive result in reduced 5G deployment time and reduced repair time & man-hours, it was a highly impressive set of new capabilities driving greater agility and lower costs across the China Unicom network. Their joint entry in the Automation Solution Award category – Leading solution for Network Automation/Autonomous Networks – was commended as a great explanation of the benefits of network automation, which is not just OPEX savings, but also improved quality of experience, energy savings, increased accuracy in planning.

In summary – at FutureNet World, CSPs told us that many of their network functions are automated, and we are now even seeing examples of full autonomy across multiple functions from highly innovative players, such as China Unicom. The rapid rate of tech innovation means that progress is accelerating and with the right organisational culture and agility in decision making, the promise of fully Autonomous Networks is not as far away as you may think.

Autonomous Networks will be explored further in FutureNet World webinars, articles, podcasts and the new FutureNet Asia virtual event in October.

 

Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash