As we are moving deeper into the 5G era, the modernization of transport networks pushes Communication Service Providers (CSPs) towards a fast-paced and dense rollout of new radio links, to satisfy demand for increased capacity and quick launch of high quality services.
OSS systems need to adapt to these new challenges and support a tight rollout schedule, extending their offering outside the narrow scope of plain FCAPS management. Intelligent control techniques should be adopted to maximize efficiency by simplification of complex design and operational activities as well as automation of manual and repetitive tasks.
The Radio Link Acceptance process requires great operational engagement and can create bottlenecks, while automation based on a complete set of objective acceptance criteria can be facilitated to streamline and expedite the network rollout and increase the network quality by identifying human errors during installation.
The acceptance of a link is the final step in a series of complex tasks that are part of the Planning and Rollout network lifecycle phases, starting with the initial link design, the finalization of the correct bill of materials to build the link and the careful onsite works of installation and commissioning. Assuming that all these steps have been completed successfully, the time comes for the link to be smoothly integrated with the network, become ready to carry traffic and finally to be accepted.
The decision to proceed with the acceptance after the installation of a new link in the network is a challenging process that may significantly affect the overall performance of the network. Ideally, after the link acceptance, reinstallation / reconfiguration of the link and time-consuming and expensive site visits should be avoided.
The NOC engineers who are responsible to decide if the link can be accepted or not should perform various checks and collect all the necessary evidence in their hands to validate their decision.
Critical radio parameters such as the RSL, SNR and Tx power should be checked to see if they are within the acceptable limits or there are significant deviations that may lead to performance degradation compared to the performance expected during the design and planning.
At the same time, other important parameters such as the Background Block Error Ratio (BBER) and the number of Severely Errored Seconds (SES) should be also monitored to make sure that they don’t exceed a certain threshold that might have an impact on the radio link quality.
NOC engineers should check all the equipment related to a link (ODUs, Modems or Network Elements) and verify that no critical alarms exist that affect the link behaviour and performance. All these alarms should be resolved before the final acceptance. In a massive network rollout, all these questions should be answered quickly by the NOC engineer who is assigned with the acceptance of the link. At the same time, the Project Managers and the Planning Engineers need proof that the link is operating according to the design and the acceptance is done based on solid criteria.
uni|MS™ with its Acceptance Testing & Audit for Radio Links NLA App offers an automated tool that controls and monitors the acceptance process utilizing the interworking of Planned and Physical views and exploiting its outstanding reporting capabilities. The acceptance of newly deployed links is no longer performed manually by the operations team based on vague or subjective criteria but relies on actual data collected and analysed by uni|MS™.
Operators that use the Acceptance Testing & Audit for Radio Links NLA App for their Link Acceptance can be assured that the correct acceptance criteria are met following the phases of network lifecycle.
All radio links can be audited by the NLA app and are categorized based on user-defined criteria in three link state categories: Planning, Error and Fault Audit State. When the auditing process is finished, the Planning Audit, Error Audit and Fault Audit state of each link is updated and reported in the Links Inventory Report.
The Planning Audit Process checks and compares the actual values of specific parameters such as ATPC/ACM, RSL, SNR, Tx Power, Peak/Guaranteed PHY Mode Availability collected by Radio Link and Radio Utilization performance schedules, against the corresponding planning values. If the actual values are the same as the planned values or within the configured allowed limits, the Planning Audit state of the link will change to "Passed", otherwise the state will change to "Failed" and a Planning Deviation alarm will be raised, available to the NOC engineer in the active alarm list report of uni|MS™. If no planning data is found for the link or no actual data has been collected in the audited time window, the state will be set to "Unknown", which is also the default initial state for a new radio link. When a link state is changed to "Passed" or "Unknown" all related Planning Deviation alarms are ceased.
The Error Audit Process commences when the uni|MS™ performance collection schedule is finished and checks the BBER and SES values of each side of the link. If the values are less than the configured maximum acceptable limits, the Error Audit state will change to "Passed", otherwise the state will change to "Failed" and an Errors alarm will be raised in the active alarm list report of uni|MS™. If there is no collection of error data in the audited time window, the state will be set to "Unknown", which is also the default initial state for a new radio link. When a link state is changed to "Passed" or "Unknown" all related Error alarms will be ceased.
The Fault Audit Process commences when the Alarms synchronization schedule is finished and checks if the alarms raised in the Radios/ODUs, Modems or Network elements of the radio link are included in the Fault Audit Alarm List defined by the user. If the Network Elements on each side of the link are both Available and Synchronized, and no such alarms are in the list, the Fault Audit state will change to "Passed", otherwise the state will change to "Failed" and a Fault alarm will be raised in the active alarm list report of uni|MS™. If the Network Elements on either side of the link are not both "Available" and "Synchronized", the state will be set to "Unknown" which is also the default initial state for a new radio link.
The Acceptance Testing & Audit for Radio Links NLA application is integrated in uni|MS™ GUI and allows the operator to configure in a single screen all necessary parameters affecting the NLA app's decision on the Audit States. Following the initial configuration, the app will run for the time period defined by the user and the Audit states will be automatically updated.
The three Audit States of each link are available in the links inventory report, while statistics about the number of radio links in each audit state are also available in the application screen and all events concerning the NLA app (start / stop / configure) and the link acceptance are stored in logs for future reference.
Furthermore, the NOC engineer can manually accept a radio link, regardless of the aforementioned Audit States, using the Link Acceptance action available in the Link inventory report. This action will set all audit states to "Passed", ceasing all related Audit alarms. The NOC engineer is prompted to enter a date that the NLA app may resume the automated radio link auditing even though the link has been manually accepted. This allows the continuous monitoring of the link and all its critical parameters that affect its performance.
The Acceptance Testing & Audit for Radio Links NLA App is part of a bouquet of NLA Apps offered by uni|MS™ to enhance the Network Lifecycle Management experience that improves collaboration among decision-makers, tackles complexity throughout the network lifecycle and provides multiple benefits for the Communication Service Providers during the link acceptance phase.
More specifically, the uni|MS™ Acceptance Testing & Audit for Radio Links NLA App delivers: