Digis Squared & Private Networks

Yasser Elsabrouty, Digis Squared Chief Business Officer and Co-Founder, shares updates on the Private Network approach Digis Squared is undertaking for clients, and developments in the pipeline. But first, what is a Private Network?


What is a Private Network?

Built specifically for individual businesses or organisations, these dedicated LTE or 5G networks have typically been envisaged for mission-critical or highly secure environments. Increasingly however, businesses are deploying them to ensure robust coverage and capacity, reinforce intellectual property protection, and deliver commercial independence from the major network operators and CSPs within their physical business campus-environment.

Private Networks can be deployed in many different shapes and sizes, using various mix and match combinations of spectrum, applications and other factors.


  • Dedicated, on-premise networks for both radio access network and core network
  • Hybrid use of some public mobile components plus dedicated on-premise components


  • Industrial: in some countries, regulators allocate specific licensed spectrum (Germany and Japan for example)
  • Shared: regulators allocate spectrum which is shared by multiple stakeholders, under license
  • Public: MNOs or CSPs lease part of their licensed spectrum to an enterprise for a fee
  • Unlicensed spectrum: assigned by the regulator, non-exclusive, free-to-use



Digis Squared & Private Networks

Digis Squared provides end-to-end System Integration services across multiple technologies including RAN, 4G/5G Core, Security, Messaging and Cloud, covering design, installation, testing, managed services operations.

Yasser Elsabrouty, Digis Squared Chief Business Officer and Co-Founder shares insights into the Private Network activity of the team.

“At Digis Squared, we are providing end to end Consultancy and System Integration services to build private networks to meet our customers’ needs. We work very flexibly with our clients – some know exactly what they need, and will ask Digis Squared to manage the System Integration, deployment and operational aspects of their pre-defined project. Others ask us to define all end to end elements: the deployment model, Spectrum, Radio details, Core network, orchestration and applications. Our teams are able to work with considerable flexibility, and according to the customer’s requirements and use cases to ensure they have and optimised Private Network which meets their needs.”

“We also offer predefined mix and match ‘off the shelf’ models that can be used as a starting point, and then adapt and deploy for the specific, customised and bespoke needs of each customer. We can take into account their specific requirements, including the size of the facility, devices deployed, which machines need to communicate with which departments, and other considerations. Some clients are looking at Private Networks to resolve specific coverage issues, or explore latency management for time-sensitive networks (TSNs). Whatever the scope of the Private Network, project our teams are enabling customers to scale up their businesses, serving more customers and satisfying the ever-increasing demand for private networks.ֿ”

“Using this mix-and-match method, we are developing profiles for different kinds of customers that can easily be implemented as needed, depending on size, area, number of sensors and cameras, or any other parameter. This approach will save time in deploying systems for customers, serving more customers while ensuring top-quality, optimised installations.”



If you would like to arrange a dedicated time to talk with the team, please get in touch, sales@digissquared.com



Digis Squared, independent telecoms expertise.

We transform telecom networks, deploy new technologies, and manage vendors, for operators, service providers and regulators.

Apply our expertise, automated AI-led tools and processes to transform your technical and commercial capabilities. We work with agility, deep experience, and our in-house cognitive tools to optimise and manage multi-vendor networks across all technologies.


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Image credit: Sarah Doffman (Birmingham)

Digis Squared sponsors UK 5G Showcase 2022

“The Digis Squared team are pleased to be sponsoring the live platform for the UK 5G Showcase event, enabling even more people globally to join this sold-out event,” shared Marketing Director Gwen Edwards. “We welcome the opportunity to meet in-person with other innovators and leaders in the 5G, Open RAN and Private Networks sector. We’ll be happy to discuss some of the System Integration and Interoperability Testing work we are undertaking for our clients.”

If you would like to arrange a dedicated time to talk with the team, please get in touch, sales@digissquared.com

The UK’s 5G Showcase – Realising the transformative potential of 5G, 22nd to 23rd March 2022, Birmingham, UK. Organised by CW (Cambridge Wireless) on behalf of 5GUK and The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS)The UK’s 5G Showcase conference and exhibition is a two-day event aimed at senior change-makers and decision-makers from industry, the investment community, government, industry and the public sector from the UK and across the globe.

Discover more about the event, and access it for free online, here.

Digis Squared, independent telecoms expertise.

We transform telecom networks, deploy new technologies, and manage vendors, for operators, service providers and regulators.

Apply our expertise, automated AI-led tools and processes to transform your technical and commercial capabilities. We work with agility, deep experience, and our in-house cognitive tools to optimise and manage multi-vendor networks across all technologies. With Private Network, 5G and OpenRAN deployment expertise and tools, we are ready to support UK 5G deployment.

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Image credit: Sarah Doffman (Birmingham)

Business Insider: “Discover Five of the Most Innovative UK Telecoms and Technology Firms”

“Connecting the world. As the UK expands its investment in STEM sectors, these firms are developing cutting-edge technology and building new ways to stay connected.”

This text is taken from a post by Business Insider / Insider Studios, which lists Digis Squared, what3words, CommAgility, pureLiFi and Speechmatics as five of the most innovative UK telecoms and technology firms. Read their full article here.



The telecoms and technology industries are likely to keep up their rapid rate of expansion over the next decade. This presents an opportunity for investment and development in the companies that are driving progress forward.

These 5 UK-based firms are highly innovative in their fields, from using light to enable wireless internet, to deploying artificial intelligence (AI), to removing bias in speech recognition. These are the companies whose pioneering technology will capitalize on an increasingly connected world.


Digis Squared

Digis Squared enables telecom operators and communications service providers to optimize, upgrade, manage, and enhance their networks. Its clients include the likes of Vodafone, Telefónica, and Telecom Egypt, and it has offices in the UK, Egypt, and Dubai — as well as a new site in Luanda, Angola, which opened in October.

“Our new office in Luanda will on-board a team of over 40 engineers providing managed services for the entire Africell Angola network,” Mohamed Hamdy, the company’s chief commercial officer, said. The new office will also support “the commercial launch of [Africell Angola’s] new network to the public in 2022.”

Africa is a huge market for the firm, which also plans to open a new facility in Saudi Arabia in 2022. Key priorities for the year include expanding its footprint in its target markets and doubling its revenue. The rollout of 5G — and planning for 6G deployment — means the need for communication technology is likely to dramatically increase in both scale and complexity. This will lead to increased demand for Digis Squared’s services over the next five to 10 years, according to CEO Ziad Khalil.

“The ability for our business to work internationally is vital — communication is both constrained and unlimited by boundaries,” Hamdy added. “Digis Squared was set up as a multi-country operation and international trade has been at the heart of our approach right from the start. Working with DIT has been a key pillar of this.”


As new technology and demand for innovation leap forward, new ways to communicate will also need to accelerate. An international approach for telecoms and tech companies is crucial, and with support from the public sector to build relationships and provide investment, there is a bright future ahead.



Digis Squared, independent telecoms expertise.

Product update: cognitive tools “OpenRAN Ready”


Ahead of MWC22, Digis Squared’s CTO, Abdelrahman Fady, shares insights into ongoing development work on the Digis Squared suite of cognitive network testing and optimisation solutions, and declares tools “OpenRAN Ready”.

“The development teams in our Technology Centres in Cairo and London have been very busy enhancing the existing suite of cognitive tools to ensure that they are “OpenRAN Ready”. In advance of MWC next week, I’m really happy to share some of the key updates underway,” stated Abdelrahman.

Digis-One: technology and vendor agnostic Unified Fault Management

  • Can now connect with the big four legacy vendors and main OpenRAN vendors
  • Unifying all alarms from across all network systems and vendors into a single screen
  • OpenRAN solutions seamlessly integrated to a single view on one screen

iPM: intelligent technology and vendor agnostic network performance management platform

  • Able to connect to legacy vendors in addition to main OpenRAN vendors, and integrate their different performance files into a single unified database
  • Unify and visualize all these KPIs into a single coherent view on one screen, and represent them geographically
  • Single touch comparison between legacy vendors and OpenRAN vendors performance

INOS: technology and vendor agnostic intelligent network field testing and optimisation solution

  • New INOS OpenRAN testing and analytics module launched to easily identify gaps and differences in performance, L3 & L2 messages content and formats, network throughputs, and measure quality between OpenRAN and Legacy RAN sites
  • Forecasting of vulnerable areas after OpenRAN deployment
  • Automated acceptance report for new Open RAN sites

“If you want to learn about our new “OpenRAN Ready” cognitive network optimisation solution capabilities,” said Abdelrahman, “I will be pleased to meet with you in Barcelona next week, please get in touch!”

If you or your team would like to discover more about our capabilities, please get in touch: use this link or email sales@DigisSquared.com .

Addendum, 22 February 2022

LinkedIn ◦  Following Digis Squared’s earlier “OpenRAN Ready” solution announcement, Hazem Amiry, Regional Sales & Business Development Manager, shared that, “We’ve been working for some time now on an OpenRAN PoC with a very large operator in the Middle East, as the lead contractor on a project with a multi-awarding winning software-enabled OpenRAN solution provider. This project is enabling the team to learn first-hand the benefits of OpenRAN deployment, and ensure we are able to fully optimise our suite of cognitive tools to real-life, complex deployment issues efficiently.”

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Digis Squared, independent telecoms expertise.

Product update: “Radio Testing as a Service” – successful cloud-based INOS installation in Intel Lab

Digis Squared’s team complete INOS migration from local on-premises deployment to first cloud-based installation enabling “Radio Testing as a Service”, with Intel® Xeon® Gold 6338N Processor, in the Intel Lab.

Thanks to membership of Intel Network Builders, work undertaken in the Intel Lab has enabled the Digis Squared team to run INOS over the Intel® Xeon® Gold 6338N processor, in the first cloud-based installation of INOS. This work is the first step in our assessment of INOS as a cloud-based solution with Intel processors. Further work is planned with the Intel Lab team assessing other enhanced processors and benchmarking performance enhancement.

Yasser Elsabrouty, Digis Squared Chief Business Officer and Co-Founder said, “Thanks to Intel Network Builders and membership of Intel Winners Circle, INOS is now providing Radio Testing automation over the cloud, enabling “Radio Testing as a Service” over private or public cloud.  The cognitive testing tool can seamlessly manage large amounts of data in a multi-tenant environment, providing full automation and real-time reporting.”

“Delivering INOS Testing as a Service over the cloud will increase efficiency, convenience and scalability, delivering the instant capability to run thousands of radio network tests from anywhere, anytime, in combination with smart automation, real-time reports and KPI deviation alerts. Digis Squared’s cognitive INOS tool just became a whole lot smarter!”

Intel® Xeon® Gold 6338N processor

  • 3rd Generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processors (formerly “Ice Lake”)
  • 10nm technology, 32 cores, 64 threads, 3.6GHx max turbo frequency, full specification.

Benefits & observations

Running 25 INOS Radio Field Tests in the Intel Lab, the following enhancements were measured, and benefits observed,

1. Increased cores & threads

  • The Intel® Xeon® Gold 6338N processor enabled Digis Squared to setup 2 or more parallel INOS containers serving two (o more) different customer accounts. In the field, this extra capability enabled by the Intel® Xeon® Gold 6338N processor would mean that,
    • More copies of INOS modules can run together in parallel, providing higher processing capability
    • Lower response time and faster handling for APIs and web requests
    • Duplicating INOS running modules presents high availability
  • When assessing response time across all 25 tests, the results show that the Intel® Xeon® Gold 6338N easily handles the volume of data as data payload increases x2.5 over the 25 tests.

2. Max Turbo Frequency: the INOS platform receives high traffic bursts periodically, due to the nature of telecoms. The increased max turbo frequency of the Intel Xeon processor empowers INOS to handle these bursts without any probability of outage.

3. Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 Frequency: Increases the capability of INOS to receive big sudden bursts of requests, keeping stable progress and high performance (i.e. no delay on data retrieval, no delay on rendering data to maps and tables, and reduced time to prepare reports.)

4. Number of UPI links: INOS consumes a huge volume of processor capability and RAM. To optimise INOS performance, we are looking not just for capacity of the processor, but also how this processor chip interconnects with the rest of the system components. The Intel® Xeon® Gold 6338N presents better integration with various I/O devices reflecting in INOS performance, especially when handling large bursts of input data files.

5. Max memory size: For INOS, more memory means more concurrent users, more software threads running in parallel, and an increase in the number of docker containers running simultaneously. The increased max memory size indicated in this table will deliver at least three or more times the number of INOS containers when using the Intel® Xeon® Gold 6338N.

6. Intel® AES-NI & Intel® Trusted Execution Technology: INOS SW runs on sensitive client data, and this capability will save data from any corruption and violation trials.

Conclusions & next steps

Having successfully completed this first assessment with the Intel Lab, the Digis Squared team are confident in the deployment of INOS as a cloud-based solution utilising Intel® Xeon® Gold processors, delivering optimised performance and enhanced speeds.

Yasser concluded, “Further work is planned with the Intel Lab team assessing other enhanced processors and measuring performance enhancement, and then, mutual testing with Open RAN market leaders!”

If you or your team would like to discover more about our capabilities, please get in touch: use this link or email sales@DigisSquared.com .

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Digis Squared, independent telecoms expertise.

AI enhancement of capacity management in mobile networks

The optimisation of capacity management in mobile networks is vital: too little capacity constraints revenue opportunities and impacts customer experience, but idle capacity risks high opex and under-performing investment in assets. Capacity management has always used mathematical modelling techniques to attempt to find the sweet spot, and optimise opportunities and costs. In the past, such predictions were based on historical data, but now AI enhancement of capacity management changes that. The deployment of network virtualization, 5G and network slicing requires the use of cognitive planning; it is vital that capacity planning models are able to assess a step-change in the volume of data points in real-time or near-real-time.

RAN Automation Architect and Data Scientist at Digis Squared, Obeid Allah Ali, describes how AI, automation and advanced analytics are being deployed to gain even greater network capacity planning efficiencies.

What exactly is machine learning, and why is it important?

Machine Learning (ML) is an application of artificial intelligence (AI) that enables computer programs to learn and improve over time because of their interactions with data.

It automates analytics by making predictions using algorithms that learn repeatedly.

Its easy self-learning technique, rather than rule-based programming, has found widespread use in a variety of contexts.

So, whether it’s making life easier with navigation advice based on predicted traffic behaviour, assessing large amounts of medical data to identify new patterns and links, or warning you about market volatility so you can adjust financial decisions, AI and ML technology has permeated many aspects of our daily lives.

The power of prediction machines

In simplified terms, prediction is the process of filling in the missing information. It takes the information you have, often called ‘data,’ and uses it to generate information you don’t have. Most machine learning algorithms are mathematical models that predict outcomes.

How will machine learning impact businesses?

There are two major ways that forecasts will alter the way businesses operate.

  1. At low levels, a prediction machine can relieve humans of predictive activities, resulting in cost savings, and for example removing emotional bias.
  2. A prediction machine could become so accurate and dependable that it alters how a company operates.

How big is the growth in mobile connectivity?

Above: from GSMA “The State of Mobile Internet Connectivity Report 2021” [3], their most recent report

Some further statistics on the growth in mobile data, from the same GSMA report [3],

  • global data per user reaching more than 6 GB per month – double the data usage for 2018
  • 94% of the world’s population covered by mobile broadband network
  • By the end of 2020, 51% of the world’s population – just over 4 billion people – were using mobile internet, an increase of 225 million since the end of 2019

And from [4] GSMA Mobile Economy 2021 report,

  • By the end of 2025, 5G will account for just over a fifth of total mobile connections.

Capacity and performance of mobile networks

The rapid growth of mobile traffic places enormous strain on mobile networks’ ability to provide the necessary capacity and performance.

To meet demand, communications services providers (CSPs), mobile network operators and their suppliers need a range of options, including more spectrum, new technology, small cells, and traffic offloading to alternate access networks.

To meet commercial business objectives, mobile network operators are under pressure to maximize the utilization of existing resources while avoiding capacity bottlenecks that reduce revenues and negatively influence end-user experience.

Additionally, network operators have to assess risk, contractual SLAs (especially in the context of MVNOS who utilise their network, and corporate contracts), the total cost of ownership, and the impact on customer experience, perception and brand.

Radio Access Network costs are estimated to be 20% of the opex cost of running a network [1]. And the impact of opex on network quality correlates strongly with increased ARPU and reduced churn; when network quality is highest, service providers benefit from a higher average ARPU (+31 %) and lower average churn (-27%) [2].

Finding the perfect balance of capacity, quality, efficiency and cost – not too much, not too little – is complex and dynamic.

Capacity forecasting for mobile networks

The Digis Squared team have developed machine learning algorithms and decoders that can, based on network activity, decode how User Traffic Profiles are changing. With the deployment of 5G and network slicing techniques, modelling network usage patterns and customer behaviour and predicting future demand becomes immediately far more complex – the only way to successfully model this will be with AI.

Detecting a problem

We detect anomalies in cells in the existing network, plus highly utilized cells, using machine learning and a design approach algorithm based on several reported KPIs. We use this information to distinguish what requires immediate attention from what should be monitored for proactive action. Using multivariable modeling techniques, that is, assessing multiple KPIs across each cell, enables us to have a highly nuanced model, optimising all available capacity.


Operators must be able to estimate the required traffic capacity for their mobile networks in this competitive climate to invest in extensions when they are truly needed, and deploy the most cost-effective solution, while maximizing investment and maintaining good network quality.
In this phase of the development of the model, we will discover future troublesome cells to guide our approach and actions using predictive models.

AI enhancement of capacity management: what’s next?

Today, we use an open-loop control system to apply our AI methods. However, as predictive model accuracy improves, we anticipate transitioning to a fully automated Self-Organized Network (SON) – enabling closed-loop network management with self-planning, self-configuration, self-optimization, and self-healing – system in the near future.

In conversation with Obeid Allah Ali, RAN Automation Architect and Data Scientist at Digis Squared.

If you or your team would like to discover more about our capabilities, please get in touch: use this link or email sales@DigisSquared.com .

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Digis Squared, independent telecoms expertise.


Differentiation through operational excellence

Differentiation through operational excellence.   ◦   Ahmed Zein, Digis Squared Co-Founder and Chief Operations & Delivery Officer, shares his experience and thoughts on the vital role the Operations function plays in differentiating your business. Plus, as his new Managed Services team gets ready for the commercial launch of a network, he shares insights into key areas of current focus.

Differentiation and success

What differentiates leading organizations from their less successful rivals? More often than not, it comes down to how they manage their Operations. No matter how great the business strategy, or how large the investment, the Operations Team, the efficiency and customer experience they can achieve, can ultimately determine which business wins and who is left behind.

A workplace philosophy where problem-solving, teamwork, and leadership are core to the way people work together and collaborate, results in the continuous improvement of an organization,” shared Ahmed. “Focusing consistently on the customers’ needs, keeping employees positive and empowered, and continually improving the current activities in the workplace to deliver a better outcome in the future – all of this requires energy and commitment. However, this is a virtuous circle of improvement – keep doing it, and you’ll keep improving, the more energy and commitment you put in, the bigger the improvement you’ll get out.

There are five key areas I’ll be focussing on with the Digis Squared team during this phase. Working together, the team in the Digis Squared Delivery and Operations Centre in Luanda, backed up with staff in our Technology and Customer Support Centre in Cairo, will ensure an on-schedule, optimised network launch, and maintain smooth operational performance throughout.

One: Preparing the Squad

As with any project we work on, preparing the squad for this mission is our top priority. Designing a complete program, and establishing a high achieving attitude and sports-behaviour in the team and its structure, help us all to succeed. The squad needs a dynamic attitude to problem-solving, and an ambitious target to achieve success together.

With all our projects, we carefully consider the specific skills, experience and expertise we need. In recruiting the squad it’s also critical to our success together that we have a strong and aligned sense of purpose, and a strong fit with the Digis Squared culture and sports-team ethos. It’s vitally important to the way in which we operate that we work together as a squad – we help each other, we share knowledge, we learn from and help each other. It’s about both leadership and personal accountability, as well as knowledge sharing. In an area as complex as network technology, almost all issues can only be solved by working together, asking questions, and listening to the experience and ideas of others. We achieve and learn more together.

And this is one of the key differences between Operational Efficiency and Operational Excellence. Efficiency focuses only on how things are done, and doing them better – faster, cheaper, fewer errors, continuous improvement. These are the basics. But Operational Excellence is far wider, it aims to create a culture within the team and company that is conducive to efficient and sustainable long-term growth. The strongly aligned sense of purpose, solving problems and succeeding together as a squad, that is vital to achieving Operational Excellence.

Some of the Digis Squared Luanda Squad, February 2022

Two: Multi-Vendor Management

Vendor management is not as simple as monitoring a mathematical set of KPIs, and a lengthy document filled with SLA words. As a team, we know that the success of any operations is reliant on sound relationships, and clear communications. The Digis Squared way is to always try and bridge the gaps in understanding, to clarify discussions, to identify a mis-fit in technologies, or a gap within a contract and resolve misunderstandings before they become problematic – and critically, to propose a solution.

Yes, of course we report on KPIs, and when an SLA isn’t being hit, but we also work hard to bridge that gap between the vendor and the operator. We work hard to build connections with the vendor’s teams, and work collaboratively together, running user acceptance tests and handovers across all domains.

Three: Performance & Field Management through NOC

Digis Squared’s Managed Services will ensure we achieve full monitoring of the network, corrective and preventive maintenance, network configuration and change management. All of this will be accomplished with operational excellence strategies by improving network availability, maintaining all network KPIs, enhancing quality of service to end customers, improving customer experience and reducing operating cost, as well as capitalizing on network automation and automating all automatable network procedures, across both front and back-office activities.

Read more about INOS here – and the bottom of that page also has links to using INOS in LTE 450 or 600MHz network, 5G and customer case studies.

One of the most important KPIs in Managed Services contracts is the focus on Network Performance KPIs as one of the most important goals. Digis Squared’s cognitive tools are used to provide active monitoring of the network. We use INOS for drive testing, and there are plenty of recent blogs about that!  [See list at end of blog.]

Digis-One is a key tool for any Operations team.  We typically passively monitor the network performance using Digis-One, our cognitive, multi-vendor, multi-technology Unified Fault Management (UFM) solution delivering centralized dashboard and alarming monitoring system for the Front and Back Office Teams. Digis-One facilitates all systems/interfaces monitoring, in addition to automating the most time-critical manual work, including automated generation and assignment of Trouble Tickets to the team responsible for solving the network issue. Digis-One delivers a significant impact on SLAs and Mean Time to Repair.

Generally, when undertaking a Managed Services contract, field maintenance is one of the top priorities. Responsive teams on the ground undertake corrective and preventive actions across the network, fixing issues before they become a problem. The Operations Squad assess KPIs, and proactively lead the way to ensuring improved customer experience. Working together, this delivers efficiency, expansion and business success.

The field maintenance service will utilise available data (network, environment, events etc.) and our cognitive tools to schedule preventive maintenance plans and optimise resource utilisation. Mindful of the various contractual SLAs and targets, together, I field maintenance and NOC teams will ensure complete coordination and alignment for all field and site access activities.

Four: Clear Change Management

A newly launched network encounters a lot of dynamic changes and interactions across all domains. I’ve experienced the dynamic situations new network deployments encounter many times before, and know that creative thinking, sound analytical practices and strong teamwork can together solve the issues which will arise. Actively managing and considering the sequence of changes require deep consideration and experience. Careful planning is needed to consider how unforeseen risks or incidents will be handled, what processes will be followed, and how unplanned changes will be addressed.

We’re at a really exciting stage of this project. Combining the skills, expertise and experience of our staff, and our AI-led tools and processes, we’re confident the squad we are building will deliver differentiation through operational excellence.

Five: Application Development Management

As a greenfield mobile network, benefits from the high demands and expectations of the commercial teams to launch ambitious, state of the art products & services to the market, pushing at the competitive and technological edge of possibilities.

With this in mind, the Digis Squared team believe it is important to bring the concept of Application Development Management, ADM, with a DevOps flavour to this Managed Service contract. Merging the development and IT/BSS operations, the goal of our ADM team is to reduce the time between a system needed development or change and its deployment into the production environments. In turn, this reflects on and enhances the time to market to materialize a commercial requirement into a real technical output, deployed on the product IT/VAS nodes. To put that another way, we’ll be using ADM techniques to develop, test and deploy rapid, noticeable improvements in an ongoing continuous loop, perhaps even before the end customer notices there was ever an issue.

Working in this way, as a DevOps team, both the development staff, and the staff in charge of operations, are in deep communication with each other – they are ONE team! There is enhanced cross-knowledge and collaboration between the developers and IT operations, assessing and solving issues together, and a more seamless workflow that eliminates sizeable knowledge silo’s which are found in traditional models. The result is the smooth deployment of technology, such as software and updates in the safest, most reliable way possible.

Differentiation through operational excellence

It’s an exciting time for the Digis Squared team globally, and we’re ready for this. It’s great to work with clients with clear ambitions, and high targets for excellence. Sharing knowledge, ensuring utilisation of cognitive systems and clear processes, building a superb team. We’re working closely with our client and the other partners to ensure this new network achieves commercial success, and one of the secrets in how we will achieve that together is with differentiation through operational excellence.

In conversation with Ahmed Zein, Digis Squared Co-Founder and Chief Operations & Delivery Officer.

If you or your team would like to discover more about our capabilities, please get in touch: use this link or email sales@DigisSquared.com .

Digis Squared, independent telecoms expertise.

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Image credits

  • Digis Squared social media and blog banner image: Fabian Plock (Shutterstock)
  • Luanda bay in article: Manual Carreia COSTALOPES

Strategic Sourcing ◦ Total spend optimisation, it’s not all about direct price

In this blog post, Ahmed AboulGheit, Head of Sourcing at Digis Squared, shares his insights into the Strategic Sourcing Consultancy we deliver. This capability is just part of the Consultancy work we undertake, and this blog provides an insight into how we help our clients bridge the gaps between service providers and new technologies, and enable smarter networks.

What is Strategic Sourcing Consultancy?

“An efficient and capable multi-purpose multi-tool in your toolkit!,” explains Ahmed.

The Strategic Sourcing Consultancy we deliver covers six key areas,

  1. Spend optimisation planning – using different scenarios to forecast and plan.
  2. Communication and alignment across departments and multiple operating businesses.
  3. End to end Sourcing process review and tuning.
  4. Scope formalisation, to ensure end-to-end coverage, and eliminate gaps in delivery and support.
  5. Terms and Conditions review and validation, ensuring appropriate vendor liability is defined and avoiding any risks to the client.
  6. Tender process validation and governance: everything from process definition to tender documentation writing and issuance, selection processes and assessments, regulatory obligations, and all aspects of governance.

Total spend optimisation, it’s not all about direct price

You might be surprised to read that, but it’s true! Often, there are times when gaps in the contract reveal themselves partway through project delivery, meaning that extra budget needs to be granted for the project to be successfully completed. To mitigate this, your Sourcing Team need to have a deep understanding of the technical requirements, as well as their commercial implications and the contractual liabilities that have to be set on vendors. Achieving a good contracted price on the front page of the contract is often defined as success, but Strategic Sourcing looks at the optimisation of total spend, across the entire project lifecycle.

This blog focuses on scope formalisation, as that is a hot topic with many of our clients currently.

Scope formalisation

This subject is critical to ensuring robust, practical and well drafted contracts. No-one wants to work within a contract framework that is full of gaps, ambiguity and misunderstanding – relationships will quickly unravel, co-operation become strained, and ultimately customer experience will be impacted and extra budget needs will pop up. This is particularly true within telecoms infrastructure projects, where different generations of technologies from multiple vendors are sitting alongside each other, and technical interoperability problems are a normal part of the scope of all projects. Additionally, internal and external scope responsibilities intersect, and compromise and priorities need to be balanced.

To avoid this, scope formalisation plays a vital part of the development of the contract framework. Identifying the correct stakeholders and setting the project lifecycle helps manage expectations and boundaries. Defining the requirements with all stakeholders, while challenging them to ensure there are no gaps is vital to ensuring a successful project. Keep an open mind, be curious and explore ambiguity: what if this happens?, what about that situation? Revealing uncertainty in the scope, and clarifying or mitigating for it is an important component of scope formalisation.

Methodically classifying the scope into internal and external responsibilities helps reveal a clearer understanding of the stakeholders’ interests and priorities. The detailed work of translating their requirements into meaningful contractual conditions, while retaining clear engineering objectives is critical to scope formalisation. All of these elements are key aspects to consider and take care of, and the skill and expertise of Strategic Sourcing staff are vital to help you to best design and achieve them.

Scope formalisation requires a deep understanding of both Engineering and Contractual languages. Strategic Sourcing staff in the Telecom industry provide the vital role in understanding, challenging, clarifying and formalising the translation. A sound knowledge of Engineering language is needed to understand the end-to-end scenario from the technical guys in the team, and then translate it into contractual conditions that would make the vendors fully liable on the targeted scope with full protection to the client if not fulfilled.

Addressing unforeseen issues

Having done all of that work, we should also be realistic – we are usually dealing with new systems and technologies being integrated into unique and complex telecoms ecosystems. As the project progresses, there will be issues that even the best brains cannot imagine in advance! So how to solve this and ensure there are no gaps in delivery or support?

It is vital to define an issue resolution path from the beginning. Good Project Governance, alongside an issue resolution process, goes hand in hand with project KPIs and milestones, and helps ensure that the total cost of the project is managed. These pragmatic steps are a core part of scope formalisation, and together ensure that excellent working relationships are achieved throughout this project, so that the next project becomes even easier!

Strategic Sourcing Model

The total spend optimisation activity I’ve shared here is just a part of the work undertaken within Strategic Sourcing; the model below illustrates other typical components. However, this type of model is simply a starting point, as sourcing and vendor management should ideally be seen as an ongoing relationship, in which there are sometimes discrete projects and activities, which form a part of a bigger picture.

At Digis Squared, some of the work we undertake for clients helps to bridge the gaps which can arise when a project is defined too narrowly. In these situations, the rush to optimise a price can cause friction and misunderstanding within the project team; gaps in scope definition and project requirements can lead to project delays and increased costs further down the line. Our deep undertaking of multi-vendor systems and technologies, and our ability to understand both the technical and commercial language of contracts helps ensure that our clients avoid these gaps, or resolve them if we are brought in later.

Use our expertise to assist your team

The team here at Digis Squared have significant experience and expertise in strategic sourcing, vendor management and project commercial governance. Indeed, the executive team which founded the Digis Squared business almost 5 years ago, all felt passionately that addressing these gaps between vendors and network operators, was vital to ensuring improved customer experience and efficient business operations. I really enjoy being part of this team, and working with clients so that together we can optimise their contracts and processes.

AI enhancement of capacity management: what’s next?

Today, we use an open-loop control system to apply our AI methods. However, as predictive model accuracy improves, we anticipate transitioning to a fully automated Self-Organized Network (SON) – enabling closed-loop network management with self-planning, self-configuration, self-optimization, and self-healing – system in the near future.

In conversation with Ahmed AboulGheit, Head of Sourcing at Digis Squared.

Ahmed has worked in and led international procurement teams in the telecoms sector since 2005 working alongside major consultancy firms, within multidisciplinary, agile teams. At Digis Squared he manages our contracts, sourcing, partner management and pricing activities, and supports our teams with consultancy in this field.

If you or your team would like to discover more about our capabilities, please get in touch: use this link or email sales@DigisSquared.com .

Digis Squared, independent telecoms expertise.

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Image credit: Mohamed M

AI-native network slicing for 5G networks

AI-native network slicing for 5G networks. Successful 5G deployments rely on the use and integration of many other new technologies. In this blog post, Tameem Sheble RAN data scientist at Digis Squared, and AI for 5G researcher, takes us on a deep dive through the close integration of 5G with AI, and how network slicing is vital to deliver the 5G vision.

The view from 2015: the 5G vision

New telecom technologies take years to be discussed, agreed and defined in standards. Previous wireless technologies have been designed and architected for one major use case: enabling mobile broadband.

During the development phase of 5G standards, by means of reaching consensus and aligning expectations, the International Telecoms Union (ITU) defined their framework and overall objectives of the future out to 2020 and beyond, in a vision document. As part of this workaround 5G architecture, they considered three distinctive, cutting-edge service verticals – enhanced mobile broadband, massive machine-type communications and ultra-reliable and low-latency communications – and their usage scenarios and opportunities for communications service providers (CSPs).

Above: The original vision for 5G. Diagram from “IMT Vision for 2020 and beyond”, published 2015 [1]

Network Slicing (NS) is one of the 5G key enablers. It’s a technique that CSPs can use to satisfy the different needs and demands of the 5G heterogeneous verticals, as illustrated below, using the same physical network infrastructure.

AI-native network slicing for 5G networks

Network slicing enables the virtual and independent logical separation of physical networks. It’s a technique used to unlock the value of 5G networks, by opening the possibilities for customer-centric services based on the demand on the network while managing cost and complexity. Consequently, vendors and standardization communities consider 5G NS a key paradigm for 5G and beyond mobile network generations.

Although the 5G NS process brings flexibility, it also increases the complexity of network management. The introduction of AI into the 5G architecture, AI-native, is motivated by the vast amount of unexploited data and the inherent complexity and diversity that requires AI to be deployed as an integral part of the overall system design. Although the rising temptation is to rely on AI as a pillar for managing 5G network complexity, in practical terms, AI and 5G are indivisible. They tend to converge from an application perspective, and they become two halves of a whole. AI’s value relies on 5G; for example; critical data-driven decisions need to be communicated with ultra-low latency and high reliability.

AI as a potential solution to network slicing

Let’s turn now to addressing AI in a nutshell for the management of the complex sliced 5G network, a complexity that relates to decision-making towards efficient, dynamic management of resources in real-time. CSPs need to leverage the use of the vast volume of data flowing through the network in a proactive way, by forecasting and exploiting the future system behaviour.

The management lifecycle of a network slice consists of four main phases,

  1. Preparation
  2. Instantiation
  3. Operation
  4. Decommissioning.

Many researchers have proposed AI solutions that underline the first 3 phases, as the decommissioning phase doesn’t involve management decisions. Admission control and network resources orchestration are some of the key slice management functions that need to make slice-level decisions to meet their requirements, while simultaneously maximizing the overall system performance.

Looking at this in more detail, this is achieved by controlling a massive number of parameters as a result of uncovering complex multivariate relationships that are related to each other in time, geolocation, etc. Proposing an AI solution must be done case by case depending on problem formulation and framing, algorithmic requirements, the scarcity and type of data and the operational time dynamics.

AI for network slices admission control (Phase 1)

Admission control – during the slice preparation phase – is a very critical decision-making control mechanism, it ensures that the requirements of the admitted slices are satisfied. During this control mechanism, a trade-off between resources sharing and KPIs fulfilment needs to be tackled. The decision on how many network slices run simultaneously, and how to share the network infrastructure between those slices, has an impact on the revenues of the CSPs.

The trade-off is further complicated by variables that alter over time, which makes the optimization of revenue based on admitted slices a difficult task. This is where Deep Reinforcement Learning (DRL) approach comes into the picture.

In a nutshell, the DRL algorithm has to learn the arrival pattern of network slices and make, for example, revenue-maximizing decisions based on the current system utilization and the anticipated long-term revenue evolution. Once a network slice is requested, and based on the system current utilization, two separate neural networks are in charge of scoring the two actions (i.e., accepting or rejecting the request), where each score represents the revenue associated with each action. Based on the difference in scores, the action corresponding to the higher revenue is selected; the algorithm interacts with the system and evaluates the accuracy of the forecasted revenue through a loss function. This value is then feedback to the corresponding neural network to perform weight update, so that the algorithm starts converging to a global maximum and performs better in the subsequent request iterations.

AI for network resources orchestration and re-orchestration (Phase 2 and 3)

After the successful admission, slices must be allocated sufficient resources in such a way that the available capacity is used in the most efficient way that minimizes the operational expenses (OPEX). The trade-off here is between under-provisioning that leads to Service Level Agreement
(SLA) violation, and over-dimensioning thus wasting resources.

CSPs need to be proactive by forecasting, at a slice level, the future capacity needed, based on previous traffic demand, and consequently timely reallocate resources when and where needed. This is where the Convolutional Neural Network (CNN) architecture comes into the picture for time-series forecasting.

Legacy state-of-the-art traffic time-series forecasting models focus on forecasting the future demand that minimizes some symmetric loss (e.g., mean absolute error), that treats both under- and over-prediction equally. But this type of legacy approach doesn’t consider the risk of under-provisioning and SLA violation – it is useless for 5G deployment!

Researchers argue that a practical AI-native resource orchestration solution has to forecast the minimum provisioned capacity that prevents SLA violation. The balance between over-dimensioning and under-provisioning is therefore controlled by the CSPs, by introducing a customized loss function that overcomes the drawbacks of the “vanilla symmetric losses”.

The AI literature proposes the use of 3-dimensional CNN architecture over the recurrent neural network (RNN) architecture – which is considered the state-of-the-art algorithm for forecasting time-series data –  in order to exploit and uncover spatial and temporal traffic relationships.

The future for AI in 5G and beyond

Whilst general AI limitations are now well known – trustworthiness, generalization and interpretability – exploiting AI to assess and manage complex decisions is vital for the smooth operation of 5G networks. And as network technologies continue to grow in complexity and capability, AI will clearly be necessary as a pillar technology for future-generation zero-touch mobile networks

In conversation with Tameem Sheble RAN data scientist at Digis Squared, and AI for 5G researcher.

If you or your team would like to discover more about our capabilities, please get in touch: use this link or email sales@DigisSquared.com .

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Digis Squared, independent telecoms expertise.


In-building coverage testing without an engineer on-site, with INOS

With an ever-growing volume of wireless network traffic produced inside buildings, network design and performance must be evaluated from within buildings. In this blog post, we assess the growing need for indoor coverage and the impact of the pandemic, plus Digis Squared RAN and Software Solution Architect and Trainer, Amr Ashraf, describes how in-building coverage testing without an engineer on-site can be undertaken, with INOS.

The ever-growing importance of in-building coverage

Often quoted research (1) estimated that “approximately 80 percent of wireless data traffic originates or terminates within a building”. Anecdotally, that figure is far higher now. Lockdowns and work-at-home mandates of the Covid-19 pandemic, plus the growing need to digitally maintain contact with friends and family are sure to have driven this even higher.

The pandemic has generated, and increased, specific needs for wireless connectivity indoors,

• Switch to working at home
• Increase in voice traffic and video conferencing/communication, gaming and streaming traffic as we stay connected online at home to friends and family
• Apps handling proximity detection/tracking and alerts about infected contacts
• Tele-medicine: urgent care assessments and consultations, updating families unable to visit, remote assessments and advice, maintaining safe care-homes for the elderly and hospice patients

Even aside from the pandemic, the explosion in social media and mobile-centric content generation and consumption has dramatically increased the volume of mobile data consumed indoors.

But if indoor coverage is poor, then this impacts both operator revenue, and, perhaps more critically, brand loyalty and churn, as the need to connect now, indoors is far higher than any remaining loyalty consumers (and businesses) have for an operator’s brand.

Testing wireless connectivity inside buildings

Digis Squared RAN and Software Solution Architect and Trainer Amr Ashraf shares insights into the challenges and solutions for testing indoor coverage.

“Indoor network testing presents its own set of challenges, not encountered when undertaking traditional outdoor drive-testing. These indoor challenges include everything from gaining physical access to the site, to collecting as much relevant benchmarking data as possible in a single pass, and determining whether solutions provide data uploads to the cloud and data processing in a timeframe that enables a technician to test and troubleshoot network issues in one visit – if there is poor network coverage indoors, this may impact the speed at which we can assess the results!”

“Indoor testing today utilises smartphone and tablet applications, with all equipment packed discretely into a backpack-based test solution for indoor network testing. This approach has led to the number of walk-testing options for interior settings significantly expanding in recent years. Then, with detailed plans or architecture drawings of the building, and an efficient walking route planned out, a team member can be tasked with wearing the back-pack, starting the app, and walking through the route.”

“As mobile network operators and communications service providers have concentrated more and more on in-building coverage, they often encounter a problem: they are unable to gather all the measurements they need in a single test walk.”

“Critically, it’s no longer necessary for the person walking the route inside the building to be an engineer. The technical assessment can be undertaken by skilled staff, remotely, ensuring your scarce engineering resource can be deployed efficiently across many projects. When an issue is detected during the building walk-through, the network can be optimised remotely – and because the INOS testing and analysis takes just 15 minutes from receipt of data, our aim is to ensure that we can re-test and re-walk the improved area as part of a single visit to the building.”

“One of our clients described testing a distributed antenna system at a major convention centre that served four wireless operators using three different wireless technologies across multiple channels, for a total of about 20 different operator/technology/band combinations, each of which required a separate measurement. A complex configuration, but one which is quite common in large business-focused buildings.”

“The indoor network testing for this project was carried out with INOS using the Digis Squared proprietary backpack-based In-Building Test Suite. In contrast to user-equipment-based backpack testing systems, which are typically restricted by the number of devices and technologies that can be tested concurrently, the INOS solution depends on a scanning receiver intended for multi-technology networks. That is to say, we are not constrained, there is no technical limit on the number of devices we can use in the testing.”

Undertaking an in-building survey

“The INOS backpack is a multi-technology integrated solution for testing and measuring multi-device mobile networks. Whether it’s for conducting an indoor or outdoor walk or cycle test, or an outdoor drive test, the INOS backpack offers a small design for portability and simple movement. Data interaction is accomplished by using a WiFi hotspot to link an Android tablet (as a controller unit) to test terminals. A powerful solution for portable multi-network benchmarking, supporting up to 20 test terminals and a scanner for testing and measuring simultaneously.”

“The measurements are transferred to the cloud for additional data management and processing, and the testing is undertaken according to the test plans given by the controller unit.”

“We use an Android tablet to operate all of the testing equipment in the backpack, connected via Wi-Fi to the test phones, which are also integrated into the backpack. This configuration gives the technician complete control over the devices, enabling them to add pinpoints throughout the in-building walk as data is collected, or repeat sections immediately after dynamic network optimisations are implemented.”

Part of the INOS interface showing the controlling tablet view, with information about the connected testing devices and their status.

Case study

“Recently, a global Tier One mobile operator used the Digis Squared INOS backpack testing technology to investigate networks in Cairo. They wanted to undertake benchmarking on their own network, as well as those of their main rivals, both inside buildings and outside. Data speeds, latency, and web browsing durations were among the main performance parameters they tested with INOS, as were dropped calls and RSSI signal levels. Once captured, the INOS data collected was sent over the air to the INOS cloud-based platform for immediate automated analysis and presentation via an analytics dashboard.”

INOS data captured during in-building testing inside the “Mall of Arabia”, in Cairo, Egypt

INOS advantage compared with traditional approaches

“One of the primary advantages INOS delivers is our very quick analysis and reporting capability. After just a few minutes of testing, we can practically immediately provide a comprehensive report with all KPIs.”

“The vast majority of network coverage-related complaints occur indoors, traditionally necessitating an engineer to visit the customer’s house or office to undertake a network evaluation – this legacy approach results in high operational costs, and scheduling delays in identifying the issue.”

“Let’s compare that with the INOS solution. Anyone can be tasked with capturing data with INOS, no technical knowledge is needed to carry the backpack around the building or location of interest. It is not necessary to divert a skilled engineer out in to the field to capture data – on some projects we’ve tasked Uber drivers with taking an INOS bag around a pre-defined route, and returning it to us, or asked a member of the admin team to cycle a route with the INOS backpack. The INOS system can even be utilised to submit a self-service complaint to skilled RF optimization specialists in the office, who can then undertake an initial assessment remotely using the INOS kit controller and web application. And of course, as only one person is needed to take the bag in a car, or walk it around a building, the solution is also Covid-19 safe.”

“INOS also enables operators and suppliers to capture data in the field remotely, analyse the data, determine which issues can be solved remotely, and then efficiently schedule and resolve problems which can only be addressed in the field .”

“If you want to know more, we’re always happy to chat through what we can do to help you. Meet us at MWC22 or let’s fix up a call online.”

In conversation with Amr Ashraf, Digis Squared RAN and Software Solution Architect.

If you or your team would like to discover more about our capabilities, please get in touch: use this link or email sales@DigisSquared.com .

Key Advantages of INOS

  • Tablet: From the Android picture gallery, users can quickly import tiny to huge floor plans (of any form of structure).
  • Floor plans and data are kept in the cloud and may be shared with co-workers.
  • Ease of use, testing, and interior navigation can all be undertaken by non-technical personnel.
  • In real time, test data is uploaded to the INOS Cloud server.
  • Post-analysis: results can be mapped onto indoor floor layout, with a web-based dashboard.
  • All-in-one mobile solution with device, network, and service benchmarking capabilities.
  • From the standpoint of subscribers, it provides extensive network performance statistics.
  • INOS is used as the test device, allowing for a single investment to be used for multiple purposes.
  • Test procedures, data processing and analysis can be fully automated, resulting in increased overall efficiency, and optimised consistency.

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Digis Squared, independent telecoms expertise.

Image credits

  • Digis Squared social media and blog banner image: Sung Jin Cho
  • With thanks to Digis Squared’s Ziad Mohamed
  • All INOS images: (c) Digis Squared