Network planning and optimization traditionally depended on specialist technicians and engineers who continuously plan, manage and optimize network resources according to technical performance parameters such as coverage, capacity and network availability. Now they must change to deal with the complexities of technologies like LTE, and network architectural changes driven by small-cells, network functions virtualization (NFV) and software-defined networks (SDN). In addition, service providers will increasingly adopt service- and subscriber-centric business models.
Specialist technical and engineering expertise are needed, but in conjunction with operational automation using techniques like self-optimizing-networking (SON). SON offers core functionality for configuring and optimizing the performance of network elements, and mechanisms to cope with network failures.
SON has met with resistance within operations teams, due to the impact of automation on operational processes and procedures, and legacy technologies – and the perceived threat to technical roles. A cultural shift is needed to encourage operations teams to abstract (rather than manage) network complexity, as well as new processes and procedures. Incentive plans can be successful in encouraging this shift.
The solutions can be simple. For example, we recently observed how senior executives in one service provider requires its teams to develop two performance maps, which are distributed throughout the organization. One map displays the performance across the network in terms of traditional network performance indicators, and the other shows where the revenues are coming from in the network.
Employees are incentivized to align the maps so that better network performance is achieved in the areas that generate the largest revenues, simultaneously improving optimization and the allocation of the network CapEx budget. This service provider demonstrates clearly that when complex organizational changes are driven from the top, the process of change can be simplified by focusing on the end goal, rather than the means to achieving it.
These and other issues around new approaches to network planning and optimization are explored in our Quick Insights report, written by Phil Marshall. Download it now.