MTN: Accelerating the Implementation of Automation Strategy Through Cooperation with Huawei

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TM Forum’s annual Digital Transformation World (DTW) is a major event in the telecom industry. After being held online for two consecutive years due to the pandemic, the event was back to being in-person in 2022 in the hopes of facilitating more in-depth conversations.

As a leading operator in Africa, MTN is also set to be a front runner in the digital era. The premise of its “Ambition 2025” strategy is intend on leading digital solutions for Africa’s progress. During this year’s DTW, Mohamed Salah, Network Operations Assurance of MTN Group, attended the meeting and shared MTN’s progress and forward thinking on its digital strategy and Autonomous Networks (AN) construction.

Strategy

MTN, the largest mobile network operator in Africa, provides voice, data, fintech, digital, enterprise, wholesale and API services to more than 270 million customers in 19 markets. In the recent wave of digital transformation among operators, MTN took the lead in releasing its “Ambition 2025” strategy in 2021, aiming to become the largest and most valuable platform and provide the best connection in Africa. When “Ambition 2025” was released, another formidable trend — AN — emerged in the industry, and soon became an extremely popular choice. AN aims to build Self-X network capabilities and achieve Zero-X user experiences. “In 2021, MTN officially kicked off our AN project to empower ‘Ambition 2025′,” Mohamed Salah said at the Autonomous Networks Leadership forum during DTW 2022.

Approach and Path

MTN’s AN project adopts the three-step strategy: “Adopt – Adapt – Apply”.

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l Adopt: Refer to the standard architecture, level concept, and best practices of TM Forum AN.

l Adapt: Integrate advanced concepts from the industry, design MTN’s AN framework based on the actual situation of MTN, refine the L3 mid-term architecture and L4 long-term architecture within the framework, determine key features (such as interfaces between autonomous domains), and release MTN’s AN blueprint.

l Apply: Based on the unified framework and architectures, carry out and enrich AN applications; deploy in multiple subsidiaries, including South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, and Global Connect; and verify and promote AN.

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To achieve the goal of reaching L3 autonomous network by 2023 and L4 by 2025, MTN has allocated the three dimensions (network, service, and O&M process) of the TM Forum AN maturity model to different teams to jointly improve their ANL. For example: The ICT infrastructure team is responsible for improving the ANL of the network domain; therefore, it will pool the AN capability of ICT suppliers, such as Huawei, to quickly improve the ANL of the network domain. Through network service APIs, capabilities are opened to upper-layer systems so as to improve the ANLs of the service and process domains.

Achievements

Mohamed Salah said MTN has invested in more than 10 AN innovations in multiple domains and subsidiaries, and has seen encouraging results. In 2021, MTN explored automatic O&M and developed use cases for the automatic recovery of sleeping cells. This year, it took a step further by introducing the automatic diagnosis of cross-network faults. Currently, 70% of fault types can be automatically diagnosed, which is an extraordinary achievement.

By cooperating with Huawei, MTN has built a congestion-free IP network in MTN Nigeria. If congestion occurs on this network, it is detected within 1 minute, optimization paths are automatically calculated, and path optimization is completed in a single click. This solves the problem of traffic congestion seen during the pandemic in Nigeria. Bearer network optimization is accelerated from several hours to just 3 minutes.

MTN base stations uses a large number of batteries to alleviate power instability issues. To improve the situation, MTN cooperated with Huawei to pilot an intelligent battery backup prediction solution which leverages AI algorithms to predict battery backup time online. This solution reduces sites’ power failure risks, facilitates the appropriate scheduling of site tickets, and intelligently determines batteries’ lifespans, reducing unnecessary battery replacements (by 8%).

At the end of his speech, Mohamed Salah concluded that these use cases came from different domains and subsidiaries, they were all organized under MTN’s AN strategy and included in MTN’s AN blueprint. Once the business values of excellent use cases were verified, MTN immediately promoted the use cases in more subsidiaries in batches. It is gratifying to see that the ANL has increased in subsidiaries and AN achievement manifest their own values. All this empowers MTN’s “Ambition 2025” strategy.

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