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China Mobile Jiangsu pushes automation to prepare for 5G

Chen Ying, Chief Engineer in the Network Department for China Mobile Jiangsu, outlines the operator’s roadmap for streamlining O&M to prepare for the 5G era.

In an interview with Mobile World Live, Chen Ying, Chief Engineer in the Network Department for China Mobile Jiangsu, outlined the operator’s roadmap for streamlining O&M to prepare for the 5G era, including increases in network scale and complexity.

MWL: What prompted China Mobile to transform O&M in Jiangsu province?

Chen Ying: There are two main factors. The first is workload driven. The expected increase in the number of users and business traffic will boost network maintenance work. This problem needs to be solved by improving operation and maintenance efficiency. The second aspect is driven by new technologies. The evolution of 5G network architecture to cloudification requires O&M personnel to deploy and maintain network services through resource orchestration.

MWL: What are your main objectives and timeframe?

Chen: The goal of China Mobile Jiangsu is to increase the level of automation and intelligence in network operations by using technical methods, so that machines can take on repetitive and basic tasks and improve operational efficiency without increasing OPEX. Our goal is to double the automation rate of network O&M within three to five years.

MWL: What specific areas did you focus on in the beginning?

Chen: Network O&M covers many different areas, including mobile broadband, fixed broadband, NFV, and 5G network operations. Our intelligent operations transformation started with the less automated areas of O&M, for example, allocating wireless network resources, transmission maintenance, and checking trouble tickets for handling fault alarms.

MWL: What benefits will intelligent operations bring?

Chen: Intelligent operations reduce costs, improve efficiency, and enhance quality. For example, some wireless network resources can now be dynamically allocated province-wide using software. 

MWL: Why did you select Huawei as a partner? What can Huawei deliver that other vendors are unable to?

Chen: The main consideration was that Huawei has rich experience in telecoms networks. The company has the largest market share of ICT O&M services in the global market and manages hundreds of networks. Currently, thousands of DevOps and a large number of partners have launched more than 1,000 O&M applications on Huawei’s Operation Web Services (OWS) platform to enrich their capabilities

MWL: How will the platform help evolve an intelligent O&M model?

Chen: Huawei’s OWS is a cloud-based operation platform that offers four modules: perception, analysis, decision-making, and execution. It implements unified data services, automation, and open orchestration capabilities. The platform can separate design and running status, and achieve layered decoupling and on-demand deployment to enable agile transformation.

MWL: Why is a next-generation OSS architecture so important?

Chen: The main direction of future network evolution is the cloudification of network architecture. In the new cloudified network era, the next-generation OSS is a must to improve control and O&M on networks. It’s essential for functions such as control, allocation, self-healing, and the scaling of cloud network elements. The OSS will also manage the requirements, application, allocation, installation, configuration, and start-up of the resource pool in next-generation networks.

MWL: How can the open platform be programmed with specific models and algorithms to enable operators to transform O&M?

Chen: Huawei’s OWS uses a microservice architecture to decouple capabilities for future OSS architecture. It implements full-stack network monitoring and automatic and intelligent operations through a unified platform and breaks down O&M information silos caused by the traditional OSS. It also supports the visualized orchestration of multiple service scenarios and flexible multi-vendor integration and interconnection.

MWL: What are the key capabilities of the OWS in troubleshooting and predicting interruptions?

Chen: The OWS platform implements automatic rule deployment and intelligent application for fault management, change management, and preventive maintenance to realize automatic alarm correlation compression, automatic fault diagnosis and recovery, and work-order automation. The platform uses machines to undertake repetitive tasks previously done by people, accelerating and improving the standardization and quality of operations.

MWL: How are you preparing for a future-oriented 5G?

Chen: In the 5G era, network scale will become very large and complex. An efficient and agile intelligent operation mode is critical. Automation and intelligence are key to improving 5G service quality and transforming the skillsets of O&M personnel. For example, service provisioning and recovery and end-user service quality awareness can be realized with more intelligence embedded in O&M systems.

MWL: What are the main responsibilities of Jiangsu Mobile in relation to 5G network construction and O&M by China Mobile? 

Chen: China Mobile began to implement its "5G+" plan in 2019. Jiangsu Mobile assumed the construction of the 5G core network as a pilot for China Mobile. We’ve worked with Huawei to incubate and implement the 5G intelligent operations solution, transform personnel capabilities, and contribute to using innovation as a pillar of power.