Telecommunications Companies Seeking 5G Rollout Success are Embracing Automation
Ericsson Mobility Report June 2021 states “5G remains on track to become the fastest adopted mobile generation in history with subscriptions increasing at a rate of about a million per day.” By the end of 2026, about “3.5 billion 5G subscriptions and 60 percent 5G population coverage” are forecasted. In addition, the pandemic has accelerated the need for a reliable, high-speed network to support business operations.
One consistent pain point which has shadowed the telecommunications (telecom) sector has been declining average revenue per users (ARPUs). Many telecom providers are looking at 5G as one way to look beyond traditional revenue channels. 5G would allow businesses to cater to newer business offerings with a focus on expanding business-to-business services like connected cars, smart cities, autonomous supply chains, multi-user augmented reality (AR) games, internet of things (IoT), etc.
One of the key considerations for rolling out 5G capabilities is choosing between non-standalone 5G or standalone 5G architecture. A non-standalone installation could coexist with existing 4G network infrastructure and significantly improve time to market. If standalone 5G architecture (with cloud native core) is selected, it would cater to use cases demanding ultra-low latency. But standalone 5G also requires higher investment due to new infrastructure requirements.
The choice between the two types of 5G architectures is driven by timelines to rollout 5G offerings to the larger market. The potential success of a 5G rollout is a broader discussion beyond architecture. Program teams should also consider these tenets:
Ability to orchestrate workflows with the ecosystem partners (and their underlying systems) in a cost-effective manner
Strong data consumption and artificial intelligence (AI)-based insight generation capability to inspire new business offerings
Ability to provide a strong customer experience with a robust, zero-touch customer support option to allow seamless adoption of 5G services
Better integration and faster onboarding of new partners
On-demand network provisioning to support hyper-personalized service offerings to end customers
You could look at 5G services through the consumer lens and the benefits can be lightning speed, high reliability with ultra-low latency, support for millions of connections (i.e. IoT), etc. A great value proposition would also mean telecom providers' readiness to handle increased volumes. Failure to address increased demand would mean rollout success would be limited.
Imagine millions of telecommunications subscribers raising requests for the ability to use 5G on mobile via eSIM or SIM exchange. Then consider how well contact centers (or point-of-sale outlets) need to be prepared to improve the onboarding experience.
There are a host of use cases that could significantly propel a 5G rollout with faster time to market.
Real-time network provisioning could mean triggering provisioning requests through an AI/machine learning (ML) engine or manually through the end customer. Accordingly, automated workflows can be triggered to provision networks in real time.
Hyper-personalized service offerings and churn prediction are important to grow and retain customers. To generate enough data to analyze consumption patterns, machine learning (ML) models can be deployed to position personalized service options to customers. The same models can also be used to predict churn and then move to keep the customer from churning.
Differentiated network infrastructure to support business critical services could be achieved through automation, like customizing different segments of the 5G network based on the nature of traffic to be addressed (dynamic slicing). This means systems can automatically adjust certain ‘slices’ (segments) of the network to suit different use case demands. For instance, a self-driving car has different requirements (i.e. to apply brakes on time) compared to the requirements for running smart watches. Depending on the impact, network slicing can be automatically applied.
Self-healing networks reduce operational costs. 5G networks involve a careful orchestration of millions of devices. While 5G signals are fast, they can’t traverse long distances. Automated systems can monitor millions of antennas, transmitters, and receivers, and can proactively perform health checks. This would allow telecom providers to self-detect, triage, and resolve customer issues without requiring customers to report issues.
Real-time technician assignment could mean enabling telecom providers to allocate work orders to technicians automatically, depending on the current location of the technician and nature of the job to be done. Imagine assigning work orders to technicians in a similar manner to how drivers are being assigned via ride-share platforms.
Depending on technicians' locations and job requirements, work orders could be automatically assigned to the right technician. And custom applications could be deployed, allowing technicians to make modifications to items in the work order. This would potentially allow for cross-selling offerings while onsite with customers.
Choosing an automation platform to support 5G rollouts is a key decision. Here are a few capabilities to consider when evaluating automation platforms to support 5G rollouts. Determine if the platform can:
Improve efficiency in orchestrating workflows across underlying systems through core robotic process automation (RPA) capabilities like user interface (UI) automation and screen scraping
Provide plug-and-play AI/ML models to perform analysis on customer consumption usage (and thereby position hyper-personalized products and services to end customers)
Enable a zero-touch service desk to automate incoming service requests with ready-to-use IT activities for commonly used tools (ServiceNow, Zendesk, Remedy, etc.) and email automation offerings
Rapidly deploy custom applications to engage with a wide consumer base
Provide a diverse mix of attended and unattended automation capabilities to support automation needs for end users (service agents, field technicians, etc.) or handle batch processing of recurring jobs (network provisioning, billing, etc.)
Offer a fully functional automation command center to provide 100% visibility into automations deployed, including alerting and remediation functionalities
Supply flexible architecture to integrate with other third-party applications
Provide multiple deployment options (depending on an organization’s vision to scale automation capabilities)
UiPath Platform capabilities have kept us at the forefront of platforms chosen for 5G rollouts. We‘ve had the privilege of working alongside some of our large telecom customers in their 5G rollouts:
Driving intellligent automation for a leading telecom organization
To find out how UiPath technology can facilitate your organization's 5G rollout, contact us.
This post is co-authored by Pamela Kundu.
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