Planning a mobile network correctly is crucial for success. Too few sites will result in coverage black spots and poor signal quality, leading to churn and uncaptured revenues. While too many will significantly increase CAPEX expenditure, reducing profitability. The optimal plan is needed to avoid these costly scenarios – and ensure that customer experience expectations are met.
But how can engineers be confident that their RF planning and optimization is effective, and ultimately delivers on the quality of experience (QoE) expectations of their subscribers and return on investment (ROI) requirements of their management?
What is RAN planning and optimization?
RAN planning and optimization is all about deciding where to build new cell towers to deliver coverage to your subscribers, and how to tweak the configuration of those towers as your network grows. In the case of 5G, planning is more likely to be about deciding which of your existing towers to deploy 5G on, and where to deploy additional small cells. The aim is to always deliver the best quality of experience for subscribers, thereby minimizing churn, while still achieving the required return on CAPEX invested.
Today, innovative RF planning and optimization solutions give mobile operators powerful tools to plan and optimize networks from 2G to 5G accurately and efficiently. Dig into these solutions, and it is clear that there are five key requirements they must possess to be effective.
Accurate RF designs ensure exceptional subscriber quality of experience and maximum return on the CAPEX invested. AI/ML-based prediction engines are becoming the de-facto standard to deliver this accuracy and ensure the optimal network design is arrived at.
According to research conducted by industry analyst firm Mobile Experts, accurate mobile network planning can reduce a nationwide US operator’s CAPEX by $2 billion over 10 years. An improvement of 1 dB in RSRP modeling precision can increase RAN capacity by 24%, enabling operators to defer deployment of thousands of 5G-NR base stations every year.
AI/ML-based coverage prediction, as found in Infovista’s Planet Artificial Intelligence Model (the world's first commercially available AI-based propagation model) not only allows engineers to deliver highly accurate plans quickly and easily, it also helps operators reduce the number of base stations deployed without impacting user experience.
The productivity of engineering resources is key to shortening the deployment times of 5G networks. A planning tool needs to be efficient to use, whether that be managing complexity through automation or increasing engineer productivity with efficient workflows and faster computational cycles.Planet delivers engineer efficiency by automating repetitive network design tasks, freeing up engineers to focus on higher value items. It leverages AI to automate network design workflows managing network complexity and maximizing ROI.
Population density maps and clutter rasters are no longer fit-for-purpose when planning a best-in-class network. The best plan can only be determined by leveraging high-resolution 3D maps and multiple input data sources including crowdsourced, social media, drive test, geolocated call trace and performance management data.Planet combines AI-based algorithms with big data sources, including crowdsourced, social media and many more to drive effective decision-making. By automatically integrating crowdsourced data, network engineers can derive actionable insights from a detailed picture of traffic demand and network KPIs.
A standalone planning tool can no longer deliver the value expected. Integration of network planning into other network lifecycle automation (NLA) processes such as testing, assurance and operations significantly reduces operational costs. Take for example the ability to leverage planning data to decide where to focus your drive testing, reducing the time spent driving by almost 50%.The integration of business processes is required to drive productivity, efficiency, and reduce operational costs. Planet integrates with solutions across the entire network lifecycle via open APIs to deliver value in both directions.
A cloud-native architecture is rapidly becoming the approach of choice when it comes to planning tools. It provides the high availability and disaster recovery required in a business-critical solution. On-demand compute resources and elastic horizontal scalability enables new capabilities such as nationwide predictions at any resolution and faster computation times, which are cost-prohibitive with a traditional hardware approach. And it delivers the many other business benefits associated with a cloud architecture such as automation and integration with other stages of the network lifecycle, all in a cost-effective package.
Planet’s cloud-native architecture is essential to its ability to elastically scale to any network size, even nationwide deployments at the highest resolutions and to deliver the high availability and disaster recovery required in a business critical solution.
What are the benefits of effective RAN planning and optimization?
Get the above right, and this seamless automation and integration of RAN planning and optimization processes delivers a 5G network plan that meets the QoE expectations of your customers – and the ROI expectations of your management.
It also unlocks new use cases which enable operators to drive revenue growth with smart, targeted network investments.
Solutions such as Smart CAPEX enable your business- and technology-focused teams to work together to form a common understanding of the impact of CAPEX on revenue, for a holistic network investment business case. Not only does this help operators to quickly deploy and scale 5G, but it also enables them to do so while optimizing ROI.
With the right RAN planning and optimization tools, operators can optimize the predicted business outcomes - including revenue, churn, and quality of experience - of their 5G investments.
Learn more about how Planet can help you improve your network planning and optimization or contact us for a demo.
- The 3 CAPEX challenges to planning profitable 5G and network ROI
- Using artificial intelligence in RAN planning to improve accuracy and save time
- Infovista enables accurate Open RAN network planning with launch of Planet 7.7
- Infovista launches Planet Cloud bringing unparalleled scalability and automation to 5G network planning and optimization