Elisa tests multiple SON vendors, and licences its own SON to others

Finnish operator Elisa has been particularly advance in its use of SON (self-optimizing networks), and particularly willing to share its experiences. It has worked closely with Nokia’s Eden Rock business, and is now also trialling technology from new SON vendor Spectrum Effect, which was founded by one of the former Eden Rock leaders. But Elisa is going a step further, and commercializing its own inhouse SON developments.

Spectrum Effect has been analyzing Elisa’s network, using its Spectrum-Net tools, which apply machine learning algorithms to mobile network data in order to detect, characterize, and localize RF interference. This process found “numerous instances of external and unintended internal RF interference, including previously undetectable passive intermodulation (PIM) interference,” according to Elisa’s head of RAN and infrastructure, Kristo Kork.

It seems that ML-powered tools like this will be part of Elisa’s multi-faceted SON strategy going forwards, but it will also be demonstrating its inhouse Elisa SON solution at next week’s Mobile World Congress. This is a cloud-based system based on Red Hat’s OpenShift Container Platform.

Elisa SON focuses on full closed-loop automation, to minimize and eventually eliminate human intervention in day-to-day running, optimization and fault-finding in the RAN. According to the operator, its SON system runs more than 2m tests a day and makes 2,000 changes to the network as a result.

The system has been running in Elisa’s commercial networks in Finland and Estonia for two years and will now be offered to operators elsewhere. Elisa believes that, if the technology works in Finland – which has seen a 20-fold increase in data consumption since 2007 – it can work anywhere, and can help other MNOs use automation to cope with data usage growth while keeping spending under control.

Operators will be able to take out annual licences for Elisa SON and will get support from the MNO’s own teams. Elisa said the solution would typically take between three and nine months to go live across a large network, and that it already had one customer.

Kirsi Valtari, SVP of Elisa’s Telco Efficiency Business, told Mobile Europe: “Our way of working is a lean start-up approach where we want to develop viable products to solve problems. We had the luxury of testing this ourselves but we are now able to offer it to others.”

She added: “The key thing for us is we have been successful in having the software guys and the network guys sitting at the same table and working like one team.”