Product update: INOS used in Pre-Launch Testing for Africell Angola Network

As part of the recent successful commercial launch of Africell Angola, the Digis Squared AI-tool INOS, powered by Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processors, was used as a key part of the network cluster testing and acceptance process. Digis Squared’s Key Account Manager for Africell, Ahmed Ma’moon, shares more.

“Digis Squared manages the entire end to end Managed Services for the new Africell Angola mobile network*. Ahead of the commercial launch on 7th April, and working closely alongside our partners, we ensured that the network was tested robustly before launch.”  [*Read more about that, here.]

“Whilst the capabilities of our vendor-agnostic tool, INOS, are extensive, in the pre-launch phase of the Africell Angola project, its major role was in field optimization following the SSV (Single Site Verification) and sites acceptance phase. The team used INOS devices out in the field in vehicles to collect network performance data for all live sites. We were able to optimise our resources too – thanks to the ability to remotely update scripts, we didn’t need to send engineers out into the field; the INOS kit can be driven to a specific location and along a predefined route by anyone, and the data is automatically uploaded into the cloud immediately.”

What is a mobile network cluster?

Mobile network coverage is often drawn as a honeycomb-like pattern of neatly meshing hexagons.

In reality, the coverage is not neatly tessellated hexagons, but very irregular shapes, due to the landscape, buildings and other features, and coverage from adjacent cells may overlap, or there may be some thin gaps. Mobile network planning engineers allocate different frequency bands (also called channels) to neighbouring cells – this helps to minimise interference even when coverage areas overlap slightly. The group of cells on different bands is known as a cluster.

INOS for Cluster Optimisation

Ahmed continues, “Working from Digis Squared’s offices, our engineers were able to control and update scripts remotely, push revised routes to drivers, and review data live in the cloud during the tests. During the pre-launch phase we ran field measurements using INOS for Luanda province clusters and sub-clusters, undertook the analysis to identify coverage issues, implemented optimisation changes live on the network, and then re-tested and benchmarked the results against the initial data.”

Above: Example INOS dashboard for field measurements used for analysis and optimization

“INOS’ AI-capabilities ensure that analysis of vast amounts of data is completed very rapidly – within 15 minutes of uploading data – so we were able to assess the results, implement fixes and re-run the tests very swiftly.”

Above: Sample coverage analysis algorithms in INOS

Comprehensive pre-launch testing to optimise for post-launch excellence

“INOS was a vital tool for us in the pre-launch field optimization activities for Africell Angola, to ensure best network coverage and performance, and excellent user experience after launch. INOS helped to speed up the field optimization process for all Luanda clusters, and complete the work in advance of the scheduled launch date.”

INOS & Intel

“INOS was a vital tool for us in the pre-launch field optimization activities for Africell Angola, to ensure best network coverage and performance, and excellent user experience after launch. INOS helped to speed up the field optimization process for all Luanda clusters, and complete the work in advance of the scheduled launch date.”

INOS can be implemented as a public or private cloud, or on-premise solution, and is also available as a “Radio Testing as-a-service” model. Its extensive AI-analysis and remote OTA capabilities ensure speedy and accurate assessment of all aspects of network testing: SSV, in-building and drive testing, network optimisation and competitor benchmarking, across all vendors, network capabilities and technologies, including 5G, private networks and OpenRAN.

INOS is built with compute resources powered by Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processors.

In conversation with Ahmed Ma’moon, Digis Squared’s Key Account Manager for Africell Group.

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.

Image credits: all images, Digis Squared

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.

Forecasting

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.

References

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
 
 

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.

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  • 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

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Africell selects Digis Squared to support new network in Angola

Managed Services from Digis Squared will maximise mobile network efficiency and give Africell’s customers in Angola an outstanding user experience.

November 2021: Africell Angola has awarded Digis Squared a multi-year contract to provide end to end Managed Services to support the launch of Africell’s new network in Angola. In this article, Africell Angola CEO Christopher Lundh and CTIO Faissal Abdallah discuss the partnership with Digis Squared’s CCO, Mohamed Hamdy, and explain why it will contribute to the success of Africell’s launch in Angola.

Optimising digital connectivity

The multi-year contract will see Africell Angola benefiting from Digis Squared’s end to end Managed Services capabilities, covering Radio, Core, BSS, VAS and Field.

“Digis Squared’s tools will help our systems work smartly and efficiently”, says Christopher Lundh, CEO of Africell Angola. “We have been impressed by Digis Squared’s commitment to transferring skills to local staff, a goal which aligns with our own, and we are confident in their experience of multi-vendor systems. It is exciting to have Digis Squared join our new network team.”

“We thank Africell Angola for the trust they have invested in us with this significant commitment”, said Mohamed Hamdy, CCO of Digis Squared. “The contract for Managed Services will enable the new Africell Angola network to launch smoothly and undertake a successful rollout of solutions to customers. Digis Squared’s resources, AI assisted tools, and processes will ensure Africell Angola’s end-to-end services perform at their peak. With our support, Africell’s customers in Angola will be able to experience a revolution in network excellence and performance.”

Supporting Africell’s mission in Angola

Africell Angola’s mission is simple: to help Angola grow by providing innovative, affordable and reliable mobile services.

“The telecoms sector is key to the future success of Angola,” explains Christopher Lundh, “and we will play a big part in this success. Our team of staff and suppliers is tasked with building a network that excites customers, keeps pace with new technologies, and fulfils our vision of leading a digital transformation in Angola.”

Africell Angola’s CTIO Faissal Abdallah added, “The technical solutions we deploy now will form the backbone of the systems we use for decades ahead. Making sure that the complex web of systems deployed can work together seamlessly and resiliently is vital if Africell Angola is to be a network which delivers innovation, affordability and reliability over the long term – working in this new partnership with Digis Squared will enable us to achieve that.”

Africell Angola selects Digis Squared for in-building coverage optimisation

Digis Squared have also been entrusted with an additional contract for Africell in Angola, handling in-building coverage optimisation. In this workstream, Digis Squared will utilise their AI assisted tools including Digis One, INOS, and iPM solutions. Developed in-house by Digis Squared, these tools deliver intelligent, automated testing, benchmarking and analysis platform for network operators and service providers, delivering drive testing (DT), in-building solution (IBS) capability, end to end IoT system testing, as well as Unified Performance and Fault Management and much more, whilst decreasing both the time taken to complete the work and OpEx cost. These AI-led tools are ideally suited to analysing and optimising multi-vendor, multi-technology network implementations, including 5G.

“The contract for in-building coverage optimisation is significant to Digis Squared. When considered alongside our Managed Services contract, it shows that there is real momentum in our southern Africa business operations,” said Mohamed Hamdy. “It’s an exciting time for Digis Squared, and we are grateful to all our clients for the faith they have shown in selecting us. The team are excited to apply their skills, tools and experience to benefit Africell Angola and their clients.”

In partnership with Africell, Digis Squared aims to develop and enhance the capability of local engineers and other technical professionals, increasing their skills and experience. The target is to create a significant number of skilled jobs in the local Angola telecoms market. Says Mohamed Hamdy: “This is a key part of  how we work. Digis Squared is committed to developing local employees who can benefit from our international multi-technology and multi-vendor experience and form a vibrant and capable cohort of local engineers in Luanda”.

About Africell: a fast-growing mobile operator with a pan-African footprint
Africell provides mobile network coverage and related technology services to more than 12 million subscribers in sub-Saharan Africa. In January 2021 Africell won a competitive international tender process for a telecommunications license in Angola. Africell will launch mobile network services in Angola 2022.

These two new contracts between Africell Angola and Digis Squared follow the recent Digis Squared announcement of new offices in Luanda. With business continuing to expand across central and southern Africa, the new Digis Squared office space in Luanda will serve as a regional hub and give the growing Digis Squared team a Covid-19 secure space to meet clients and collaborate with colleagues.

Members of the Digis Squared team, Key Account Manager Ahmed Ma’moon, CCO Mohamed Hamdy, and Co-Founder and Chief Business Development Officer Yasser Elsabrouty outside the new offices in Luanda, Angola.

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

Keep up to speed with company updates, product launches and our quarterly newsletter, sign up here.

Digis Squared, independent telecoms expertise.

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Digis Squared awarded Intel Winner’s Circle Membership 2021

Digis Squared awarded Intel Winner’s Circle Membership

Yasser ElSabrouty shares the latest news from the team: Digis Squared awarded Intel Winner’s Circle Membership.

“We’re very excited to confirm that Intel Corporation have selected Digis Squared to join their Winners Circle,” Yasser ElSabrouty, Digis Squared Co-Founder and System Integration Business Unit Director announced.

The Intel Winners’ Circle program rewards the most innovative solutions in the ecosystem, in alignment with Intel’s technologies and strategic objectives. Intel is committed to driving advancement in the networking landscape, and the Intel® Network Builders Winners’ Circle seeks to further align the industry in order to accelerate network innovation. The program drives greater technical enablement in the form of testing and benchmarking of solutions, and it helps strengthen the industry’s relationship with end users.

Ongoing collaboration

This announcement demonstrates the growing collaboration and partnership between Digis Squared and Intel. In February this year, Digis Squared joined the Intel Network Builders ecosystem program, and brought with it the deep experience and expertise of the Digis Squared team in ultra-reliable network configuration and optimisation.

A joint case study with Intel published in May, utilising Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors, described substantial enhancements to Video and TCP optimisation achieved utilising Digis Squared’s System Integration capabilities to deliver 30% down link throughput enhancement, thanks to the data traffic optimisation capabilities of INOS.

“The optimisation described in that Intel case study was tested, and customer experience verified, using INOS, Digis Squared’s radio testing and network optimisation solution. INOS works over all data network technologies, including 5G and Open RAN,” Yasser explained. “All our ongoing commercial deployments of INOS utilise Intel technology, as their processing capabilities meet our demanding performance requirements.”

“As part of our partnership with Intel, we’ve also been working within the Intel Lab to characterise the behaviour of INOS with the latest generation of Intel processors, and plan to undertake further work in this facility focussed on Open RAN.”

Thank you

Yasser added, “Thank you to the team at Intel Network Builders and the Intel Lab for their ongoing support and collaboration as we work together to deliver optimised world-class telecom network solutions, and enter the next phase together as a Member of the Winner’s Circle.”

Link to the official announcement on the Intel website.

In conversation with Yasser ElSabrouty, Digis Squared Co-Founder and System Integration Business Unit Director.

If you or your team would like to discover more about our System Integration capability, video and TCP optimisation, or other elements of mobile network optimisation, please get in touch: use this link or email sales@DigisSquared.com .

Keep up to speed with company updates, product launches and our quarterly newsletter, sign up here.

Digis Squared, independent telecoms expertise.

About Intel® Network Builders

The Intel® Network Builders ecosystem program accelerates network transformation by connecting all of the players that are driving new solutions to the market, including service providers, end users, infrastructure, software and technology vendor.

The ecosystem offers members technical support technology training, technology matchmaking, co-marketing opportunities and more. These programs help companies to optimally utilize Intel technologies in their solutions, and facilitate joint collaboration.

There are now over 400 Ecosystem Partners.

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  • Digis Squared social media and blog banner image: Intel / background Kenny Luo
  • The Intel® and Intel® Network Builders logo and graphics are copyright and trademark Intel.
  • The “digis2” logo is copyright and trademark Digis Squared Limited.

New office in Angola supports business expansion across southern Africa

In conversation with CEO and Founder Ziad Khalil, we discuss how Digis Squared’s new office in Angola supports business expansion across southern Africa.

Digis Squared Ltd, the UK-based managed services, system integration and telecoms consulting specialists, continues the expansion of its global footprint with the opening of new offices in Luanda, Angola this month. This latest announcement builds on solid business growth at Digis Squared, and enhances support to clients in the southern region of Africa.

Digis Squared’s London HQ, and Technology & Customer Support Centre in Cairo now have over 180 staff, an increasing team in the Dubai office opened in December, plus additional staff in-country embedded in clients’ offices in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The announcement today builds on the celebrations of Digis Squared’s fifth year in business, and their #WeAre5 campaign.

Ziad Khalil, CEO and Founder at Digis Squared, shared his insights into why the business is investing here in Angola, now,

“Our clients and partners have demonstrated their trust in the Digis Squared team and our capabilities, and as our commitment in the region continues to expand, this is reflected in our new investment in Angola. With increasing numbers of significant engagements locally, and across Africa, now is the time for Digis Squared to invest and open a new office in Luanda.”

With business continuing to expand across central and southern Africa, the new office space in Luanda will provide a regional hub, and ensure that the growing Digis Squared team has a Covid-19 secure space to meet clients, and collaborate in-person safely.

“2021 continues to be another year of significant success and growth for the Digis Squared team. The work we undertook for clients in 2020 addressed massive changes in mobile network demand caused by the pandemic, re-dimensioning and optimising network performance,” commented Ziad.

“This significant investment in new offices in Luanda, strengthens our commitment to clients in Angola and across the southern Africa region. The facilities will enable our local team to provide enhanced support to new and extended contracts, as our business continues to expand.”

“As 2022 approaches, and new technology deployments continue at pace, this location is ideally situated to deliver further business expansion and enhanced presence in the region for Digis Squared,” Ziad added. “This investment strengthens the local support and capabilities we can deliver to our clients and staff, and demonstrates our commitment to them.”

In conversation with Ziad Khalil, Digis Squared CEO and Founder.

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 .

Keep up to speed with company updates, product launches and our quarterly newsletter, sign up here.

Digis Squared, independent telecoms expertise.

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  • Digis Squared social media and blog banner image: Mohamed Hamdy

Optimising Africell mobile networks during Covid-19

In this case study, Bassel Mashaka, RAN Senior Manager at Africell Group, and Ahmed Ma’moon, Digis Squared’s Account Manager for Africell Group, describe how Africell’s mobile networks were optimised remotely and safely during the Covid-19 pandemic. They share details of the cooperation within Radio, Field Optimisation and Core Optimisation Services, that were successfully delivered in 2020 – including +85% improvement in mobile data downlink throughput in most improved cells – and talk about the expanded scope of the teams’ collaboration in 2021.

Africell, one of the fastest-growing mobile operators in Africa

Africell provides voice, messaging, data, mobile money and other integrated telecoms services to over 12 million subscribers in 4 countries. It has over 60% of the market in Sierra Leone and The Gambia, and up to a quarter of the market in Democratic Republic of the Congo (including in Kinshasa, the capital city). In January 2021 Africell won a competitive international tender process for a telecommunications license in Angola, and has announced a target to launch services in Angola by the end of 2021.

Optimising Africell mobile networks remotely during Covid-19

At the start of 2020, as the pandemic struck, workers and students had to rapidly adjust to working from home where possible. Mobile data demand shifted in new and unpredictable ways and mobile network operators and service providers had to sprint to keep up.

Ahmed Ma’moon reflects on this time: “It was at the start of Q2 of 2020 that Digis Squared was selected by Africell Group to undertaken network optimisation work. When talking with Bassel Mashaka about how to confront the challenge, we appreciated the Africell team’s willingness to collaborate and consider new ideas – including undertaking the network optimisation work remotely, using Digis Squared’s cloud-based tools, putting an unprecedented emphasis on health and safety.”

Bassel Mashaka recalls, “The optimisation work we completed with Ahmed and the Digis Squared team ensured we could support our customers as normal working patterns were turned inside out and efficient digital communication between family and friends became more important than ever. The teams worked quickly and unfussily to optimise our networks’ performance. Together, with Digis Squared, we positioned Africell to be able to withstand unpredictable changes in demand and kept our customers connected throughout the pandemic.”

Case study ◦ Optimising Africell mobile networks during Covid-19, safely and remotely

Ahmed shares more about the early stages of the project: “Following previous work we had undertaken for Africell, and the early achievements in terms of network performance and customer experience, Africell awarded Digis Squared contracts for band re-farming and frequency planning services. This new project was focused on two operations, where we worked on preparation ahead of LTE expansion.”

“Working safely and remotely, the Digis Squared team delivered an over-achievement in the band re-farming service in Sierra Leone. Our team were able to re-farm more bandwidth than the planned portion without affecting the re-farmed band.”

“Driven by the successful co-operation between the two business in Radio Services, Africell then mandated Digis Squared to work on the Core Network Optimisation Service in Sierra Leone. Throughout, we also undertook targeted activities to improve network capability.”

“The Digis Squared achievements in 2020 were acknowledged by the Africell Teams and Senior Management in Radio and Core Domains”, Ahmed says. “We are pleased that this hard work led to the renewal and expansion of the network support services contracts for 2021, covering Radio Optimisation, Field Testing and Optimisation, and Core Optimisation.”

Mohamed Hamdy, Chief Commercial Officer at Digis Squared added, “The technical success that the Digis Squared team has delivered for the Africell Group is a great example of the type of collaborative, and long-term relationships our teams build with partners. I’m proud to look back on how their expertise, combined with perseverance during pandemic and cloud-based Digis Squared tools ensured that we could remotely deliver these achievements for Africell, and help them to ensure their customers and communities remained connected.”

In conversation with Bassel Mashaka, RAN Senior Manager at Africell Group, Ahmed Ma’moon, Digis Squared’s Account Manager for Africell Group, and Mohamed Hamdy, Chief Commercial Officer at Digis Squared.

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

Keep up to speed with company updates, product launches and our quarterly newsletter, sign up here.

Digis Squared, independent telecoms expertise.

Abbreviations

  • CQI Channel Quality Indicator
  • CSP Communications Service Provider
  • DCS Digital Cellular System (GSM-1800)
  • DL downlink
  • DRC / RDC   Democratic Republic of the Congo / République démocratique du Congo

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