Network Automation is Key to 5G’s Future, Experts Say

Artificial intelligence can help manage an increasingly growing network with the advent of new devices on 5G networks.

Network Automation is Key to 5G’s Future, Experts Say
Screenshot of Amdoc's Ofer Farkash at the 5G symposium in early June

June 28, 2021—The automation of 5G networks, including the use of artificial intelligence to keep up with updates, will be an essential component to the next-generation mobile wireless networks, according to experts.

Representatives from Verizon, Cisco Systems, and other telecom companies discussed the importance of automating 5G networks, and the role AI could play in the process, at a virtual 5G symposium held earlier this month.

The automation process involves creating equipment standards in the components that link devices to the network, the experts said. It would also standardize the way in which devices would link up, making the process of connecting new technologies to the network significantly faster, easier, and more streamlined. It would also eliminate much of the complexity currently inhibiting the networks, they added.

The implementation of 5G brings with it the promise of connecting more devices than ever before, including personal devices like laptops and tablets, autonomous vehicles, machinery, medical equipment, and homes and city buildings. Connecting these devices will allow them to collect and deliver data that will assist in research and innovation that some say will be revolutionary.

Complexities and solutions in 5G network management

The vast number of connections in 5G networks creates complexities in the network configuration that poses a challenge for engineers and experts to overcome.

The primary challenge, the experts said, lies in managing the large number of devices – including internet of things – that are supposed to connect to the network. They argued that automation, through the use of artificial intelligence, can be the solution to many of the current problems facing network operators.

Automating this process is essential, said Ofer Farkash, products and solution marketing director at Amdocs, who added that automation is a “key aspect of the 5G networks and is absolutely essential in order for service providers to manage, deploy, and operate the highly complex 5G networks.”

The Role of Artificial Intelligence

Rick Fulwiler, the chief solution architect at Netscout, said AI and machine learning could be a crucial component in synchronizing the 5G network. He said he believes technology progresses too fast for humans to keep up with, and the AI could be the component that helps us keep up.

Fulwiler says that it’s really hard for people “to understand this technology because it’s changing so quickly. And along with that, we’re seeing a kind of demise of domain knowledge.”

Technicians have to be able to maintain 4G and LTE services, while also understand the developments taking place in the 5G sphere. According to Fulwiler, it’s too much.

“It’s almost as if we’re driving a car down the road and we’re trying to change all the wheels at once,” he said.

Because it’s so difficult to streamline the vast number of differing connected devices, there exists a seemingly endless array in which errors can accrue and mishaps to the network take place, the conference heard. It would be difficult for humans alone to identify and fix every single one.

Meanwhile, AI can monitor the network, identify errors, and possibly even offer a solution long before a human ever could, the experts said.

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