How O-RAN and AI will transform network service performance

by Dr Derek Long | Apr 5, 2023

We are entering a pivotal period for the future of telecommunications, with immersive consumer technology and highly complex industrial applications set to completely transform networks. It’s time to move towards the opportunities offered by the O-RAN RIC and complementary advances in AI. These are the keys that will unlock optimised network automation and maximised service performance.

O-RAN marks a paradigm shift in network complexity and introduces a more innovative supply route into the telecoms industry as 5G takes hold. The key question of course, is this: how can automation overcome the complexity of O-RAN networks to deliver a broad set of high-performance use cases?

A much greater degree of network automation is needed to deliver better performing services to serve many new use cases and a host of different terminal types. Everything from metaverse applications to real-time robot control will require very different optimisation approaches.

The new landscape will enable greater network utilisation and much more efficient use of spectrum, reducing network costs and energy requirements. Indeed, service operators will be able to adopt cloud-native computing, to grasp a wealth of data from the RAN with AI-powered analytics tools and – with an eye on sustainability – cut power consumption. It will, therefore, be possible to ease the management overhead of these increasingly complex networks.

World-leading performance

Delivering world-leading performance for new mission-critical applications is not just a nice-to-have. It is crucial if we are to offer new sources of revenue for the telecoms industry and added value to the users it serves.

Going forward, success will lie in using the benefits of open standards to apply the latest AI technologies to directly optimise for the individual user/application performance. All while optimising overall network performance.

Find out more in our O-RAN whitepaper.

Download now

The approach revolves around the ability to derive insights from network and user data without (crucially) invading user privacy. O-RAN standards expose the network telemetry data that is necessary to be able to gain these insights. The data that is made available allows us to predict actual user/application experience which in turn allows us to predictively adjust the network configuration to improve the quality of experience.

Inferring user experience

Being able to predict user experience without actually measuring it is important because we need to be able to perform the necessary optimisations without infringing privacy. There are three main benefits of being able to infer service quality and user experience:

  1. Overall improved quality of experience on both an individual and an aggregate level
  2. More efficient use of available network infrastructure with the resulting impacts on costs and sustainability
  3. Opportunities that emerge for service providers and those involved in O-RAN technology development.

Recent advances in AI are already making a difference. Our recent O-RAN whitepaper – O-RAN and AI: ready to transform service performance in the optimised network – explores this point in more depth and present recent research CC has completed to demonstrate the potential of this approach by using AI to infer the user experience.

For services providers who want to offer higher-performance services (immersive consumer experiences and ultra-low latency industrial services, for example) this promises better network configuration, for any use case, using a targeted measure of application performance. And to hammer home the point, this will enable higher performance to be delivered for lower cost and less environmental impact.

Focusing on improving customer experience and service performance is key to the future of mobile broadband infrastructure, especially as we enter this new age of immersive services that rely on high performance and efficient network infrastructure. We at Cambridge Consultants pride ourselves on being unconstrained in our thinking. With that approach – added to our broad telecoms industry expertise – we are ready to help our clients seize the future of the network.

Find out more, download your copy of our new O-RAN whitepaper here.

This article was originally published in the Mobile World Congress 2023 Show Daily.

Expert authors

Director of Telecommunications | View profile

Derek leads our collaboration within the telecoms and mobile sector, helping create breakthrough innovations that transforms the delivery of high-performance communication - for mobile carriers and ISPs to vendors and component manufacturers.

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