We’ve heard before that network operators are going to have to change drastically in the future and that future isn’t all that far away.

With the introduction and adoption of next generation technologies such as 5G and the Internet of Things, networks are about to become more complex and capacity will soon burgeon to the point of bursting.

In order to handle this shift, networks must become more scalable, more intelligent and automated according to head of digital services at Ericsson Middle East and Africa, Indranil Das.

“Network intelligence and automation are crucial to the evolution of 5G, IoT, and industrial digitalization on every front. As 5G-enabled technologies develop, operators will need to increase their network capacity – but with additional capacity also comes additional complexity. To meet these new challenges, operators must introduce engineered solutions that combine machine learning and human intelligence to enable networks to self-learn, self-optimize, and deliver an optimal user experience,” explains Das.

Head of Digital Services, Ericsson Middle East and Africa, Indranil Das.

Machine learning is the important buzzword to note here because 5G brings with it complexity that may prove too much for a human to control.

Combining machine learning and artificial intelligence however, can bring about greater efficiency for a network operator even within a complex environment.

“It will enable algorithms to predict traffic patterns and dynamically put cells into dormant mode without impacting user experience; it will help prevent future malfunctions my providing actionable recommendations and reducing dispatches of service technicians; it will enable detection and optimization in analytics, drastically reducing customer service calls; and much more,” Das explains while championing the use of machine learning and AI.

Locally speaking network operators could use machine learning and AI to leverage the limited spectrum available to them more efficiently. Of course this might not be necessary given government’s sudden interest in assigning spectrum but its nice to know that operators have that functionality, if they build it in of course.

And Das has a harsh wake-up call for network operators that feel they don’t need to invest in the future of networks.

“As businesses continue to adopt next generation technologies, the demands placed on networks will shift, creating an opportunity for the operators that can most as fast as their fastest customers. If they can switch to a continuous improvement process in an increasingly complex world, they will stand to win entire industries,” says Das.

The future is not far off. Verizon in the US is already in the process of launching 5G networks and there is a push from local operators such as Vodacom to launch 5G services in South Africa as well.

Whether other network operators are ready to embrace the future remains to be seen but the market and consumers won’t wait for them when the future arrives.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]