In the evolution to 5G, with the enrichment of data services, popularity of intelligent terminals, and gradual implementation of the internet of everything (IoT), the volume of data traffic in communication networks is becoming larger and larger. The huge amount of data cannot be captured or processed by conventional software tools, which brings great challenges to network delivery and operations. A new network management mode that can collect, store, analyze and apply massive communication data becomes an urgent requirement for efficient network delivery. As a result, many big data tools and systems based on the big data platform play a vital role in network delivery, making network delivery more efficient and intelligent.
With rich experience in network delivery, ZTE has applied big data methods in network delivery. By analyzing massive data from core network, wireless side and drive test (DT), ZTE has proposed end-to-end intelligent operations solution, intelligent DT solution, intelligent network optimization solution, and network self-organizing solution for intelligent network delivery. At present, big data tools used in network delivery include value multi-analysis expert (VMAX), wireless network guardian (WNG), network multi-analysis expert (NetMAX) and centralized self-organizing network (CSON), as shown in Fig. 1. These tools play the role of reducing cost, improving efficiency, and simplifying operations in network delivery that involves user complaint analysis, network performance optimization, precise network commissioning, user experience analysis, visual presentation, service/terminal/user analysis, end-to-end automatic fault demarcation, and test data collection and analysis.
VMAX: End-to-End Intelligent Operations Solution
The VMAX system is a petabyte (PB)-sized big data management platform based on the Hadoop technology. It uses end-to-end data correlation in wireless and core networks to rapidly carry out end-to-end fault demarcation analysis, accurately identify wireless, core network, internet, user and terminal faults, and help operators completely improve their operational efficiency and quality and reduce costs. Main functions of the VMAX system include end-to-end one-click complaint, user experience analysis, real-time service guarantee, signaling backtrack, XDR query, session trace, VoLTE media plane demarcation, multi-dimensional report analysis, visual presentation, and precise commissioning.
Starting with real user experience including data experience, voice experience and IoT experience, the VMAX system can help the customer service department quickly confirm user complaints, improve the efficiency of handling the complaints, and automatically transfer the demarcation results of user complaints to the network maintenance department. VMAX has leading service experience modeling capabilities and can quantitatively evaluate the experience of mainstream internet hot applications such as social networking, games, portals, videos, finance and travel, voice services (connection success rate, call drop rate and quality), and IoT services (internet of vehicle, smart transportation and logistics) to meet the system requirements of differentiated network services for operators. The intelligent 5G operations solutions supplied by the VMAX system include network slice analysis, 4G/5G collaborative analysis, 5G monitoring solution, VR service experience, 5G resident experience monitoring and optimization, intelligent network planning, global voice escort, and intelligent factory operations, which can achieve the integration of the whole process of network planning, construction, operations and optimization.
VMAX has been applied in communications networks in many countries. In an overseas project, VMAX played an important role in data processing and improving delivery efficiency through user complaint analysis, inter-operator network comparison, APP time/area domain analysis, user migration analysis, terminal analysis, user profile and poor-quality cell analysis, indoor/outdoor comparison analysis, and 2D electronic map. In less than two months after using VMAX, network operational indicators were improved significantly. Data traffic increased by 78.30% compared with the same period last year, and more than 5000 3G users were migrated to 4G. VMAX was used for the first time in the network guarantee work of Christmas 2019 and New Year 2020. VMAX successfully handled large-capacity data and ensured successful network operations. The operator fully recognizes the help brought by VMAX to the network and plans to expand its capacity.
WNG: Intelligent Drive Test Solution
Drive test is an important method for evaluating performance indicators in wireless network optimization such as network coverage, call hold, and data throughput. Traditional drive test with high cost and low efficiency has always been a challenge to network delivery. ZTE has proposed its WNG solution that can complete drive test with one person and one vehicle. This solution implements simple test, automatic report output through a smart cloud platform, and sharing of cloud resources by many projects, greatly improving efficiency of the test and reducing project costs.
WNG supports four major test scenarios: single site acceptance test, cluster acceptance test, indoor acceptance test, and unattended test. Special test scenarios include MOS test, NB test, and metro test. Unlike traditional test tools, WNG changes the pattern of previous individual test and written report into the test management mode based on platform, modules and packets. It unifies test and report output templates and automates test and report output actions, thus greatly saving costs in network engineering and optimization and improving the pass rate of acceptance tests. The WNG system significantly improves the efficiency of drive test, especially suitable for project delivery of large-scale networks. This has been verified in many major project delivery at home and abroad. ZTE’s self-developed WNG system has been adapted to 5G terminals (ZTE A10 pro) and can meet the requirements of 5G single site and cluster acceptance tests.
NetMAX: Intelligent Network Optimization Solution
NetMAX serves as a wireless network optimization expert system and its data comes from users’ measurement reports, call logs and signaling. By collecting user data of the whole network, it rapidly evaluates network coverage and interference and traces back abnormal events in the network, which can greatly improve the efficiency of network operations and optimization. NetMAX can analyze the network from many dimensions such as NE level, user level, terminal level and grid level. Its main functions include coverage analysis, interference analysis, antenna feeder troubleshooting, network performance analysis, VIP user monitoring, in-depth coverage solution, virtual drive test, and terminal capability statistics.
Virtual drive test presents a wireless network coverage analysis solution with the same effect as the traditional drive test by obtaining and analyzing massive measurement reports (MR) with latitude and longitude information in wireless networks, correlating them with call detail trace (CDT), and using the geographic information system (GIS). In the stage of network operations and optimization, virtual drive test partially replaces the traditional one, improves efficiency and reduces costs. Antenna feeder troubleshooting plays an important role in engineering optimization. It helps engineers identify failure sites, reduce the number of visits to the site, avoid repeated drive tests to troubleshoot reverse antenna feeder connections, and improve RF optimization efficiency. The NetMAX system is evolving to network geolocation insight (NGI) to meet the needs of intelligent 5G network optimization. The evolution functions include automatic report of 5G virtual drive test, automatic report of visual coverage, UE capability analysis (SA), competitor analysis, 3D coverage, abnormal event analysis, and anchor rationality check.
CSON: Network Self-Organizing Solution
CSON is a GSM/UMTS/LTE wireless network self-optimization system independently developed by ZTE. The CSON self-optimization flow can provide automatic closed-loop optimization to save manpower and improve efficiency. The main functions of CSON include neighbor cell self-optimization, frequency and scrambling code optimization, high-load scenario optimization, LTE CCO antenna feeder parameter optimization, and initial site commissioning parameter setting.
The neighbor cell self-optimization function includes automatic addition and deletion of intra-RAT, inter-RAT, and inter-frequency neighbor cells, and adjustment of neighbor cell priority, which can reduce dropped calls caused by improper neighbor cell relationships and improve the handover success rate. The LTE CCO antenna feeder parameter optimization function can give suggestions for adjusting RF parameters, send the RF parameters to EMS, and synchronize them to the base station, so as to automatically solve the coverage problems such as weak coverage, cross-cell coverage and overlapped coverage, and improve the efficiency of operations. A 5G network requires a self-optimization solution that is fully intelligent and can adjust its policies independently. CSON introduces AI reasoning to implement intelligent policy execution and closed-loop optimization. The intelligent energy-saving solution is evolving to achieve fully adaptive energy saving based on energy-saving objectives and user experience.
With the development of 5G, IoT and AI, the construction of smart factories and smart cities, and more diverse terminal types and service applications in telecom networks, operations and delivery of the networks will face greater challenges. ZTE’s intelligent network delivery solution based on big data will continue to upgrade intelligently to help operators accurately plan and build networks and enhance their value.