The promises of 5G can only be fulfilled if its challenges are also addressed. This means an iterative approach to automation in telecommunications, with small and precisely focused alterations to algorithms that constantly improve the quality of service but don’t have a massive impact on the network overall. By adopting such a strategy, high costs and complex network restructuring can be avoided, using 5G as a gateway to robust and gradual automation of physical, virtual or hybrid networks.
As a minimum, RAN planning should be focused on fully-automated delivery of on-demand services. This begins with human input for knowledge definition, after which vendor-specific network function configuration may be carried out automatically with the help of templates.
The successful 5G rollout will employ model-driven architecture with abstraction layers, in which an orchestrator plays a key role. The abstracted view restricts network visibility to authorized parties and enhances scalability of each network slice, while the orchestrator automatically translates the customer service side into technical requirements. In all cases of 5G network automation, VNF will be required to make network functions independent of physical infrastructure, and the network must be capable of automatically responding to changes via SDN.
The arrival of 5G has certainly disrupted the telco landscape, and places high demands on operators. With the right tools, the right mindset, and an iterative approach to carefully planned and sharply focused automation processes, these demands can be met and new, lucrative opportunities will open up.