AI is reinventing network operations: Bradley Mead, Head of Network Managed Services, Ericsson | Interview

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Published: November 6, 2019 2:05:17 AM

AI and automation are key components of the Ericsson Operations Engine, says Bradley Mead, Head of Network Managed Services, Ericsson, as he talks to Sudhir Chowdhary on some of its benefits and adoption by the service providers.

Artificial Intelligence, Network Managed Services, Ericsson, Ericsson Operations Engine, Mobile Wireless Congress, 5GAI and automation are key components of the Ericsson Operations Engine, says Bradley Mead, Head of Network Managed Services, Ericsson.

In order to address increasing network complexity, including a growing volume of devices, multiple technologies (4G, 5G, IoT), and more diverse service requirements, Ericsson has introduced a new Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based managed services model for communications service providers – the Ericsson Operations Engine. AI and automation are key components of the Ericsson Operations Engine, says Bradley Mead, Head of Network Managed Services, Ericsson, as he talks to Sudhir Chowdhary on some of its benefits and adoption by the service providers.

Excerpts:

How is Ericsson driving the adoption of AI and ML in its offerings?

From a managed services perspective, we launched at Mobile Wireless Congress Barcelona this year a new offering called the Ericsson Operations Engine. It will help take the functioning of networks from what was traditionally incident driven. For example, when something happens in a network and someone takes action and resolves the issue. These could be incidents in the network or customer complaints.

We have been investing in automation and AI/ ML to be able to predict things before they happen in networks and take actions. These could be either fully automated actions or an automated action with human guidance in very complicated or critical scenarios to address them. So, we are shifting the networks to be data driven rather than being incident drive. To be predictive rather than reactive and that’s what we are focussed on. We have been working with some of our leading customers to be able to work with use cases that are relevant around the world and so far it is going really well.

How open is the Indian market for the adoption of these technologies?

At Mobile World Congress this year we announced that we are working with Bharti Airtel for building intelligent and predictive network operations. It is one of our leading customers, it is very advanced in its thinking and is also driven by customer experience. That’s the objective, always to maximise customer experience.

Within Ericsson Managed Services, what role will AI and ML competencies play from a security point of view?

Security and data privacy is something we are used to working with in running customer networks for many years now. I think what this capability has the potential to do is to enhance the ability to ensure that the data is protected and managed not just in an efficient way but even in a more secure way than it is today. Data management is a key component and machine learning is a complimentary capability that can help the whole industry manage data privacy and data sovereignty in an effective way going forward.

What are the benefits that customers can expect by integrating these technologies into their networks?

We talked about much more reliable and consistent customer experience – that’s the prime driver. Of course, things become more efficient as well as you predict and prevent things happening on the network – so there’s an efficiency factor there as well. The more you automate, more the efficiencies you gain there.

As you get ready for the next generation 5G networks where you move to network slicing, you need to be able to differentiate those slices. That introduces a new level of complexity that we haven’t dealt with before. It is not a bad thing but actually a good thing – it’s just a different level of complexity we will be working with and understanding how to work with that. Here, we use AI and automation to manage those slices in the most effective way. It is exciting that the technology gives us the capabilities, particularly for our operator customers to be able to differentiate services in real terms by the type of service they want to sell to the end-consumer or the enterprises or wherever their customers are. That’s how 5G will open up new revenue streams for the operators.

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