How autonomous networks can change the telecoms industry

22 Jun 2023

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Huawei’s Aleksandar Milenovic explains how autonomous networks can revolutionise telecom networks as well as other industries.

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Automation can simplify many areas of business, from our working lives to software development. But it can also have a huge impact on the telecommunications industry.

Traditionally, the telecom network is divided into different domains, for example radio access networks such as 5G, layered transport networks, core networks and cloud computing.

The complexity of telecom networks makes network management increasingly complex and drives up operations expenses for network operators. This is where autonomous driving networks comes in, according to Aleksandar Milenovic.

Milenovic works at Huawei Ireland’s Research Centre and has more than 20 years’ experience in developing products in the area of telco operations and maintenance.

He told that, while the name might imply something to do with self-driving cars, autonomous driving networks is focused solely on network management and control portfolio to embed automation at every layer of the telecommunications network.

“Autonomous driving networks (ADNs) go far beyond the innovation of a single product and are more about innovating system architecture and business models which will lead to more efficient network operation and management.”

He said that with ADNs, network operators will have scenario-specific and open programmable APIs to improve efficiency, reduce job nodes that need manual intervention and shorten service time.

He also spoke about other benefits that can come with ADNs through AI. “A network traffic forecast model is generated through AI training to implement real-time network resource scheduling and topology management based on the network traffic trend, optimising network resource utilisation,” he said.

“AI training is utilised to forecast network load and generate energy consumption models for base stations and data centres, enabling dynamic energy provisioning based on network loads.”

Applications of autonomous networks

While there is great value to be added to the telecoms industry with autonomous networks, there are many other potential applications where the cost of operation and management is high.

“5.5G applications in other industries are good examples. Wireless communications in enterprise campuses, machine coordination in mining industry, container and ship logistics in shipyards require 5/5.5G networks, where customers shouldn’t care how to operate and manage such network. Autonomous networks should give a ‘plug-and-play-and-forget-about-it’ experience,” he said.

“For example, the Smart Tianjin Port in China is one of the best practices in smart port operations which combines 5G, cloud computing, autonomous driving, intelligent twins and IoT to create a better connected and more autonomous system. The underlying architecture intelligently connects the various port systems, eliminating data and information silos.

“All applications work together, powered by the Smart Hub, which centrally manages operations with higher efficiency and network safety where integrated and smart operations and maintenance quickly identifies and addresses risks and faults.”

As automation trends continue to unfold over the next decade, Milenovic said he believes autonomous networks will become the “crucial infrastructure in an intelligent society” and added that Huawei is calling on all parties in the industry to collaboratively improve industry standards, level definitions, and business practices.

“I see a gradual step-wise adoption through the different autonomous network levels, providing and demonstrating value for each level and building technologies for the next step ahead.”

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Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic