Rethink networks, reinvent deployment
By Mirjana Scheele
It’s World Earth Day this 22 April 2020 and we are living through an exceptional time. In the space of a few months, the immediate challenges we face today are completely different to life before. The long-term challenge of climate change also remains. We are all learning new ways of working and living.
We are learning to think differently. When we think differently, we see things differently and we can do things differently. We innovate.
Take network deployment. Deployment of robust networks and reliable network capacity requires speed, quality and cost efficiency. This is as true of existing networks as it is of the current deployments of 5G networks around the world. Speed assures that customers launch their networks and provide connectivity as quickly as possible. Quality assures that services are delivered to end users at the best possible level. Cost efficiency helps customers deploy their network affordably.
But these requirements alone are no longer enough. There is a fourth requirement today – sustainability. Networks, connectivity, communications technology are now also seen through the environmental, social and economic lenses of sustainable development.
For example, 5G networks can now be deployed in a far more sustainable way through digitalization of existing processes and procedures. We use digital collaboration platforms, workflow orchestration systems, digitalized interfaces and applications which help significantly reduce the amount of site visits needed to complete deployment and acceptance of every single 5G site. We can reduce time needed by up to 30%, eliminating the use of paper throughout the deployment process and in the final analysis improving the quality.
In simple terms this is how this works in practice: site surveys, a necessary part of network deployment, are limited to video recording of all site relevant details, either using drones or through video collaboration platform. All that is needed for production of the digital site survey report and site design is available in digital format, and the usual need for a second physical site visit is unnecessary as nothing is forgotten.
Onsite security checks of the implementation plan, often involving several parties visiting the site are no longer needed. Now only one person with a video collaboration enabled smartphone and connectivity is needed on site, the other parties can participate remotely. This means reduced travel per each 5G site for several people, which given the 1000s of sites that are being rolled out, gives both major carbon emission savings as well as cost efficiencies.
Digitalized installation procedures, using smartphone applications and rarely needed video connection to a back-office expert in the digital enablement centre, again with digitalized checklists have shown much better installation quality and further reduction of site visits and reduced carbon footprint.
All site acceptance documentation can be digitalized and provided to customer in e-form. Furthermore, the final quality assessment on site – and final site acceptances can be done for customer remotely via a video collaboration platform.
Environmental, social and economic benefits
I started as an installation and commissioning engineer almost 25 years ago, and I remember my travels from one site to another with the car full of folders and site documentation, screwdrivers, cables and other tools. Digitalize site related documentation and deployment procedures is not only a leap forward for the quality and speed, but an important contribution to environmental improvements.
I am happy to say digitalization also has its social benefits. The health and safety of colleagues, contractors and customers is important to all of us, even more so currently. Rollouts of 5g networks, modernizations, capacity upgrades and expansions continue in many parts of the world, often with a vital role in today’s circumstances. Here, digitalization of deployment helps minimize person to person physical interaction, enabling us to do much more remotely than ever before and further reducing the need for travel. We believe digitalization and 5G will continue to provide the fabric for greater social, environmental and economic benefits for all, now and into the future.
About the author
Mirjana Scheele has served as Vice President of Deploy Services in Nokia since September 2018. She holds a Master of Science in Telecommunication engineering from the University of Belgrade, and joined the company in 1996 as an installation and commissioning engineer and has acquired, since then, broad international experience through various services roles in Belgium, France, China and Germany. Mirjana is very passionate about digitalization in deployment services.