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    87% of CSPs believe their 5G investments and rollouts could be more efficient and optimised

    A new industry survey by TM Forum on the use and benefits of the automation of tasks and processes from across different phases in the 5G network lifecycle reveals the progress made by CSPs in realising the blueprint of Network Lifecycle Automation (NLA), and the benefits expected or already achieved when implementing this new systematic approach are lagging.

    While 92% of the respondents say they have made a return on their investment in 5G networks over the past five years, 87% of CSPs surveyed confess the way that their new network assets were deployed could have been done in a more efficient and optimized way, and only 14% think they have leveraged their investment fully.

    Few CSPs are also completely satisfied with the time it took to deploy 5G networks, with 58% of respondents believing their 5G network rollout strategy has taken longer than it should have to execute. 86% of them even say the benefits have taken too long to realize or have not come to fruition due to business, technical and commercial barriers.

    The report makes it clear: faced with increased network and service complexity, many CSPs are looking to the automation of tasks and processes from across different phases of the network lifecycle to maximize the returns from their 5G investments while accelerating deployments and maximizing revenues.

    To that end, the TM Forum report, Network Lifecycle Automation: Can CSPs optimize 5G investment?, details the numerous blockers and unprecedented level of complexity confronting CSPs as their plan, deploy and optimize their 5G networks. CSPs are forced to manage massive volumes of data about business, technology, processes and product performance which creates a noisy environment that is difficult to manage, navigate and improve from end to end. When asked about the top priorities to unblock maximizing the returns from their 5G network investments, CSPs identified these top 3 ones:

    1. Establishing a common platform for automation between planning, deployment and operations systems (42%)
    2. Accurately linking planning, configuration, testing and operations with customer experience (33%)
    3. Establishing the cloud-native technology and / or finding vendors with cloud-native solutions (30%)

    According to TM Forum’s report, these CSP priorities can be handled by:

    • Introducing new cross-phase processes that automate tasks and workflows spanning multiple applications in network planning, testing & deployment, and Automated Assurance & Operations
    • Moving these operational functions from one-off activities to continuously improved lifecycle management processes
    • Giving disconnected but related teams – like network planning, deployment, operations and revenue management – a shared view of their responsibilities, processes, tasks and outcomes
    • Creating a data feedback loop across these operational functions to drive collaboration, observability and continuous optimization

    Under the name of Network Lifecycle Automation (NLA) in TM Forum’s report, this new, systematic approach to realizing multi-phase and multi-silo automation use cases is already being implemented by 62% of the CSPs surveyed. As also noted in this same report, many of the individual elements of NLA are being worked on by TM Forum members, including:

    • AI-based automated network planning
    • Flow-through network build
    • Automated network configuration/build/turn-up and
    • Automated end-to-end network testing/validation
    • AI operations – predictive and preventive operations
    • AI-based, cross-domain correlation of events
    • Zero-touch provisioning
    • Self-healing, self-optimizing networks
    • Cognitive smart field operations
    • Unified network and IT operations
    • Continuous monitoring and improvement of automation through agile delivery processes and tools.

    “Communications service providers are continuing to invest aggressively in 5G network rollouts and now find they must better optimize planning, deployment and operations to meet ambitious ROI expectations,” says Dean Ramsay, Principal Analyst, TM Forum. “Our global survey of CSPs’ intentions clearly reveals that many are turning to Network Lifecycle Automation as a new, systematic approach to realizing multi-phase and multi-silo automation use cases. Operations leaders are now looking to expand the remit of automation to span the full network lifecycle in a systematic way as the path to increasing productivity and performance at a lower cost.”

    NLA may be applied to a variety of use cases that have immediate relevance to CSPs because of the urgency to expand and improve 5G networks. According to the survey, the most pressing blockers requiring removal are “high CAPEX due to inefficient CAPEX allocation” (29%) and “slower than expected roll-out due to difficulty establishing a business case” (27%).

    Reflecting this, the priority areas for network lifecycle automation identified by CSPs are:

    • Optimising network planning to maximize RoI by combining operational data about quality of experience with network data about performance (61%)
    • Optimising planning prediction using test data, and optimizing testing using planning data (18%)

    At Digital Transformation World 2022  in Copenhagen last week (20-22 September), Infovista, a global leader in network lifecycle automation (NLA), reinforced the TM Forum’s industry findings by showcasing the progress it has made with its customers towards realising some key use cases for NLA.

    “To rapidly and cost effectively roll out 5G assets, CSPs need to optimize not only coverage, but also revenue growth predictively. The streamlining and automation of tasks from across different phases in the network lifecycle into end-to-end business use cases, such as those we’ll be showcasing at Digital Transformation World, holds the key to optimizing the investments and maximizing the outcomes expected from the implementation of advanced cloudified network architectures like 5G,” Franco Messori, Chief Product Strategy and Transformation Officer, Infovista told the conference. “At the event, we will also discuss the mindset and organizational shits behind the rise of NLA that deeply changes the way networks and services can be deployed, managed, optimized and improved over time.”

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