Transforming lives: Insights from new network launches in Angola & Yemen

Transforming lives: This blog post provides a transcript of, and images from, the presentation made in the main auditorium at MWC Africa by Gwen Edwards, Marketing Director at Digis Squared. Presented in the Network Modernisation session on Day One of the conference, 25th October 2022.

The presentation focuses on two key Digis Squared Managed Services projects.

Also available as a standalone white paper.

MWC Africa 2022 – Network Modernisation session

Main auditorium, Kigali Convention Centre, Day One of the inaugural MWC Africa.

“With the ever-evolving and rapid advancements in technology, network transformation will be key for delivering next generation services. How are communication service providers across Africa, enhancing their capabilities to offer seamless connectivity and better digital experiences to their customers? How are they utilising cloud, virtualisation and AI to address the challenges of the region, from usage gap to decarbonisation? Join us as we answer some these questions, while also exploring Open RAN ambitions and the steps needed to prepare the network for web3.”

Transforming lives: Insights from new network launches in Angola & Yemen

Thank you, I’m delighted to join you here today.

I’ll be sharing insights into some of our recent projects transforming and launching new networks in Yemen and Angola, and how these projects are transforming lives.

About us

Digis Squared is an independent UK company, focused on Managed Services, System Integration, and Consulting.

We’re 6 years old, and our senior staff have worked in the telecoms sector for decades for vendors and operators.

We develop our own vendor-agnostic AI tools in-house, have strong processes, and about 200 staff across Africa and the Middle East.

And we’re the only non-Network Equipment Manufacturer delivering end-to-end Managed Services.

Similar, very different

The projects I’m sharing today focus on two operators, covering end-to-end managed services from pre-launch through to full launch and network operations.

Angola and Yemen have geographically challenging topography, plus their own logistical and societal complexities.

The projects are similar and very different.

Both projects delivered real change and transformed connectivity for communities.

Aden, Yemen

This is Aden, in the southern tip of Yemen, looking towards the Presidential Palace over on the left with the flag. Behind the white barriers in the centre is the football pitch.

Many of the photos I’m using today have been taken by our staff. We want to share with you a sense of place and insights into our projects and what we’ve achieved.

Yemen is complex

Before the conflict in Yemen, telecoms was second only to oil and gas in generating revenue and foreign currency for the government.

After almost 8 years of conflict, over 23 million people need humanitarian assistance, and
over 5 million are displaced.

In such a disrupted society, the need for reliable communications between families and communities is vital.

But, the networks supported only legacy 2G voice and text messages – no WhatsApp, no email, no search, no apps, no interconnect, and no roaming. With incredibly limited and patchy coverage, and significant network instability there was almost no mobile data, and even person-to-person calls were unreliable, making it very difficult to keep in contact with loved ones inside the country and internationally.

Difficult terrain

As part of the country’s re-construction mega-project, the Yemeni Government in Aden assigned 4G licenses to Y-Tel.

Digis Squared won a competitive tender and was selected to deliver the entire major transformation program. The old 2G legacy systems were dramatically upgraded to best-in-class, cloud-based solutions – 4G at launch, with 5G ready elements.

I’m worried I’ve made that sound easy! The local Digis Squared team on the ground in Yemen used our processes and AI tools to assess what was needed, and working together with our remote teams, they defined the strategy and services, co-ordinated and selected vendors, and managed contracts, logistics and warehousing. They used our smart network planning tools, managed the physical network rollout and optimization, the back and front office implementation, network commissioning and dimensioning, everything through to network operations. We worked together with Y-Tel, the Ministry of Telecommunications in Aden, and the GSMA to drive delivery of the new network.

As part of this huge program, we established a NOC in our Cairo GNOC to ensure operational excellence and resilience. And we continue to carefully balance local and remote skills by investing in on-site training for a new generation of Yemeni engineers.

Re-calibrating an over-used term: digital transformation

This project is huge.

We have entirely transformed the capability, stability and capacity available, and delivered every element of the new 4G network for Y-Tel.

The Digis Squared Operations Team in Yemen have been enormously committed to the project, working in very difficult environments, 24 hours a day to achieve key targets within specific windows.

I would like to publicly thank them and acknowledge the impact their work will have on connectivity between communities in Yemen.

In June this year, we completed the on schedule first call, and the first 4G data connection, and the first ever mobile video call in country. These are massive milestones for our client Y-Tel and the local Digis Squared Team in Aden.

It is hard for us now, in this room here in Kigali, to imagine or remember life without mobile connectivity. The certainty that you can phone a loved one, and so much more: the ability to place an order via your phone, to send a photo to a friend, to make a video call and check your Dad is ok – we take all of this for granted.

The impact the project will have on the people of Yemen is hard to express. This project in Yemen re-calibrates the term ‘digital transformation’. The connectivity we are delivering for Yemen will truly transform lives, and improve the functioning of society.

Be connected. Be fast.

The “first calls” made in June mark the start of network operations and pave the way for the phased roll-out of infrastructure and portfolio of customer services.

The Y-Tel pre-launch marketing campaign is underway, and focuses on simple, straightforward commitments: be connected, be fast.

As the only non-Network Equipment Manufacturer delivering end-to-end Managed Services for mobile networks, this project in Yemen is very significant for the Digis Squared team.

If we can do this in Yemen, we can do this anywhere.

Luanda, Angola

Turning now to the second half of the presentation: Angola on the southwest coast of Africa. A very different place, but with some surprising similarities in population size and age. Civil War-ravaged Angola for 27 years until it finally ended in 2002.

Africell’s mission

In January last year, 2021, Africell won a competitive international tender for a telecoms license. Their mission was simple: to provide innovative, affordable and reliable mobile services, and lead a digital transformation in Angola – a country which has experienced decades of stasis and under investment in the mobile sector.

Fast forward to November last year: after a competitive international tender, Africell awarded Digis Squared a multi-year contract to provide end to end Managed Services to support their launch.

We moved fast. We created a local legal entity, set up an office, and in just one month mobilised and hired forty-four engineers, from Angola locally and across Africa.

Digis Squared has worked with Africell Group in other OpCos – in DRC, Sierra Leone and The Gambia, plus Uganda in the past – delivering enhancements to radio, core and VAS.

In Angola the end to end Managed Services contract covers everything from field to full NOC, all aspects of Radio, Core, BSS, VAS and field managed services, across the entire brand new network.

In April this year, the Africell Angola 4G mobile network went commercially live. Within 6 months Africell Angola had over 5 million subscribers. This is a significant success together for Africell and Digis Squared, and a significant transformation in service for subscribers.

5G boost to economy & innovation

In July, just 4 months after launch, we supported Africell in publicly demo’ing 5G for the first time in Angola, reaching speeds of 1 gigabit per second. 

Angola has one of the most advanced economies in sub-Saharan Africa, and the future rollout of 5G and private networks has the potential to boost the economy, drive innovation, security and performance even further.

Working together, we are looking forward to enabling that future 5G transformational capability.

Connecting communities

Today, network rollout is progressing and soon Africell Angola will expand to include cities and regions outside Luanda.

This project has been technically complex in scale and ambition, but the impact on people’s lives, and the ability to deliver change is very real.

Mobile services in Angola have never been faster, lower cost or more reliable.

Making change happen, together

Africell launched services in Angola in April this year with a promise to shake up the telecoms sector and lead a nationwide digital transformation.

As the first new mobile operator in almost two decades, the introduction of fresh competition has already led to improved network quality and security, reduced prices and increased consumption, and is delivering benefits for digital inclusion, education and healthcare.

Whilst Digis Squared has worked in over 25 countries in Africa and the Middle East, this project was our first in Angola, a new country and culture for us, and Africell.

Investing in the local team, using our solid existing processes and automated AI tools, balancing expertise in country, with experienced staff in our other offices when needed, we’ve been successful in setting up and delivering quickly, and delivering on schedule.

Africell Angola promised to change and make change happen, and together, we’ve done that.  

Conclusion

And what have we learnt from these projects?

  • Working in an almost war-zone is hard, but can be done.
  • Finding balance between staff in country, and a remote GNOC helps ensure stability, robustness and continuity.
  • Clear focus on aligned mission, and trust in working together is vital to success.
  • Building strong local teams, and investing in and enhancing skills, competence development and training, is really important to the way in which we work, and a clear commitment from the Digis Squared team to the project, the client, and the country we are working in.
  • In such a competitive market we are the only non-Network Equipment Manufacturer delivering end to end Managed Services, covering preventive and corrective maintenance in the field, up to full NOC including core, billing, charging and VAS.

When we are driven by the power of connecting people, together we can achieve anything.

With thanks to Africell, and Y-Tel.

As presented by Gwen Edwards, Digis Squared’s Marketing Director, at MWC Africa 2022.

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

 

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References

About Digis Squared

Managed Services, System Integration & Consulting.

We transform telecom networks, deploy new technologies, and manage vendors, for network operators, service providers and regulators. Apply our vendor-agnostic 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.

Headquartered in the UK, Digis Squared has offices in Angola, Egypt and UAE.

Digis Squared ◦ Enabling smarter networks.

First ever mobile video call in Yemen, on 5G-ready Y-Tel network

In Yemen, even simple person-to-person 2G calls are unreliable – this first ever mobile video call, marks a colossal transformation, only 18 months after Y-Tel initiated this major transformation program with Digis Squared.

Aden, YEMEN – 15 June 2022 – Y-Tel has made the first call on in its new 5G-ready network in Yemen, and the first ever mobile video call in the country. This significant technical milestone marks the start of the leap from legacy 2G to transformed 5G-ready network operations, and heralds a new era of stable calls and mobile data for the first time for the Yemeni people.

After the war, and as part of the re-construction mega-project across the country, the Yemeni Government in Aden assigned 4G telecommunications licenses to Y-Tel. Previously, Y-Tel ran only a legacy 2G network for voice and SMS, which like all Yemeni networks suffered from very patchy coverage, and significant network instability.

Following a rigorous selection process, the entire Y-Tel network major transformation program – covering everything from the entire network planning and design, through to vendor selection, end-to-end Radio on-site rollout, network core infrastructure implementation and integration, through to network go-live, and operations – was assigned in its entirety to Digis Squared, including end-to-end Managed Services and System Integration. Working throughout the pandemic, the highly motivated teams have solved complex technical and logistical issues to transform all aspects of capability, to deliver a world-class 5G-ready network in Aden, Yemen, and in parallel managed the current 2G legacy network, to keep the limited existing capability going, and migrate the subscribers to the new secure network.

“This on schedule first call, plus first 4G data connection and first ever mobile video call in the country are significant and exciting program milestones for our client Y-Tel and the Digis Squared Team,” shared Digis Squared COO Ahmed Zein.

“The impact of this major program on the Yemeni people can not be overstated. This is a country where even person to person calls are very unreliable, where there is incredibly limited coverage and almost no mobile data, making it very difficult to keep in contact with loved ones in the country and internationally,” Zein continued. “Until you have lived and worked here it is hard to imagine or remember life without mobile connectivity. We over use the term ‘digital transformation’ in our industry; I simply cannot express the impact this project will have on the people here in Yemen. The ability to phone a loved one, to place an order with a company, to send a photo to a friend – the connectivity we are delivering will truly transform lives, and improve the functioning of society. The benefit this project will bring to the Yemeni people, starting with Aden, is colossal.”

“Digis Squared have completely replaced and upgraded the legacy infrastructure, entirely transforming the capability, stability and capacity available, and delivered every element of this network for Y-Tel”, explained Zein. “Starting from a blank piece of paper, we have handled everything from network design and architecture, vendor and equipment selection, contract management, logistics and warehousing, physical network rollout and optimization, back and front office implementation, network commissioning and dimensioning, everything through to network operations – every element from the ground up. The old legacy systems have been dramatically upgraded to best-in-class cloud-based solutions. We have worked closely with the Y-Tel team, the telecom sector in Yemen, and the Ministry of Telecommunication.”

The transformed Y-Tel network will launch initially in Aden, before a phased national deployment. These “first calls” mark the start of network operations and pave the way for a phased roll-out of infrastructure and portfolio of customer services.

Looking across the bay towards the Presidential Palace, Aden, Yemen, June 2022 [credit: Ahmed Zein/Digis Squared].

“This program in Yemen is incredible. I am immensely proud of our Digis Squared team in Yemen, and our global team who have worked together to achieve this entirely transformed network infrastructure, and the milestone first calls last week,” stated Digis Squared CEO Ziad Khalil. “This first ever mobile video call in Yemen is testament to the hard work, dedication and skill of our teams. It builds on our significant achievements in launching and operating the Africell Angola network earlier this year. If we can contribute to change people’s lives for the better, and completely transform, launch and operate a 5G-ready network, if we can do this in Yemen, we can do this anywhere.”

“After working closely together with Digis Squared for the last 18 months, it was a real thrill for me to make the first video call together with Zein!,” said Ahmed Gadallah, Vice Chairman of Y-Tel. “This reliable, and fast connectivity will bring such a dramatic improvement in communications to the Yemeni people, we can’t wait to bring our new fast 4G network to the people of Aden and then across Yemen. We have a very exciting time ahead of us!”

Images from Aden, Yemen, June 2022 [credit: Ahmed Zein/Digis Squared]. Left to right: The first Digis Squared 4G mast for Y-Tel ◦ A billboard with part of the Y-Tel pre-launch marketing campaign ◦ A hillside near Aden.

About Digis Squared

Managed Services, System Integration & Consulting. We transform telecom networks, deploy new technologies, and manage vendors, for network operators, service providers and regulators. Apply our vendor-agnostic 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. Headquartered in the UK, Digis Squared has offices in Angola, Egypt and UAE.

Digis Squared ◦ Enabling smarter networks.

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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Further notes

  • The first voice and video calls were made on the new 4G network on the 8th June 2022 in Aden, Yemen between Ahmed Gadallah, Vice Chairman of Y-Tel and Digis Squared COO Ahmed Zein.
  • The transformation project included,
    • Legacy 2G infrastructure transformed to 4G, with 5G-ready capability (5G license not yet available).
    • The Digis Squared team managed all elements of,
      • Network planning, design and architecture
      • Vendor and equipment selection, contract management
      • Logistics and warehousing
      • Physical network rollout and optimization
      • Customer registration (mobile, public internet and new number range)
      • Network security
      • Network core infrastructure implementation and integration
        • Legacy Core and Charging systems modernized to Cloud Core Network, Cloud Charging/BSS and VAS consolidation – this will enable Y-Tel to deliver a comprehensive catalogue of commercial products and services to meet the daily needs of the Yemeni people.
      • Back and front office implementation
      • Network commissioning and dimensioning
      • Managed Services: all elements of live network operations
  • Y-Tel mobile network soft launch of 4G is scheduled for Aden very soon. In parallel, fast-paced work is underway to be ready to launch in Mukalla, Mareb and Sayoun during 2022, with further coverage extension to other provinces in 2023.

Related coverage,

Yemen: first call and first 4G video call, on a newly transformed network

Exciting news, that we can’t keep to ourselves any longer, from Aden, Yemen.

 

First call & first 4G video call

“We are delighted to make the first voice call, and first 4G live video call on a completely end-to-end transformed network this week!” shares COO Ahmed Zein in Aden.

“This work in Yemen is incredible,” added CEO Ziad Khalil. “The people of Yemen have been without a reliable voice and data connection for a long time, making it very difficult to keep in contact with loved ones in the country and internationally. I am very proud of the work that the Digis Squared team have achieved for Y-Tel, and this significant milestone this week.”

“This is a massive program which Digis Squared have led from the start, end to end,” shared COO Zein. “ The program includes the entire network planning and design, through to vendor selection, end-to-end Radio on-site rollout, network core infrastructure implementation and integration. We have worked closely with the Y-Tel team, and the telecom sector in Yemen, including the Ministry of Telecommunication, building every element of the network from the ground up for our client Y-Tel.”

“In Yemen today, even person-to-person calls are difficult, with incredibly limited coverage and almost no mobile data. This program will transform daily communications for the Yemeni people, and deliver 4G internet connectivity to consumers and enterprises, making their lives easier than before.”

“I want to thank everyone in the Digis Squared team whose skill and effort has made this happen, despite the big challenges in Yemen.”

Two photo, on a blue background, with text. On the left, a small fishing port with a blue bay and blue sky, and on the right, white buildings below, and a beautiful blue sky above. Digis Squared Yemen Y-Tel First Call and First Video Call

 

This major technical achievement marks the start of network operations and paves the way for a phased roll-out of infrastructure and portfolio of customer services.

Stay tuned for more information about the Digis Squared Y-Tel Program very soon!

 

 

In conversation with Ziad Khalil, Digis Squared CEO and Co-Founder, and Ahmed Zein Digis Squared COO and Co-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 .

Digis Squared, independent telecoms expertise.

 

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  •  Image credits: all images, Digis Squared /Ahmed Zein

 

Accelerating Ghana’s Digital Transformation

UK-Ghana Digital Transformation Conference, 9th May, Abingdon, UK

This in-person event brings together representatives from the Ghanaian and UK Governments, technology leaders in the private sector, academia and research centres, to identify synergies and accelerate the implementation of transformative projects in Ghana’s digitalisation program.

The Conference will showcase the UK’s private sector expertise in digital, science & innovation and foster partnerships between Ghanaian and UK Companies.

The stellar list of speakers includes H.E. Alhaji Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, the Hon. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Minister For Communications And Digitalisation, Republic of Ghana, and Harriet Thompson, British High Commissioner to Ghana, United Kingdom Government, amongst many other shining lights of the Ghana tech and digital eco-system.

Digis Squared’s CCO, Mohamed Hamdy, commented, “We’re delighted to be supporting this conference, and its aims of accelerating Ghana’s digital transformation. Across Africa and the Middle East, we’ve been working with telecoms operators and Regulators, as well as private sector companies, to implement and enhance their digital transformation projects. Most recently, in Africell Angola, we are working together with our partners to completely transform the digital capabilities in the mobile sector. In the Middle East we are working on LTE and 5G Private Network projects, with particular interest in the oil and gas sectors.”

“We’re excited to be participating in this conference and look forward to in-depth conversations with senior representatives from Ghana, an enhanced understanding of the Ghanaian digitalisation program, and identifying ways in which we can work together on the implementation of transformative digital capabilities. This conference is a great initiative!”

“I’ll be at this conference in Abingdon on 9th May, along with my colleague Gwen, and we would be delighted to meet you informally, or arrange a dedicated meeting.””

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Digis Squared, enabling smarter networks.

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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Africell Group confirms Africell Angola launch

“Africell launches services with mandate to transform Angola’s digital landscape.”

7 April 2022, Africell Group.

The Africell Group announcement confirms the Africell Angola launch, and that commercial mobile services are now live.

We are pleased to re-share these extracts from Africell Group’s press release,

“Partnerships with blue-chip international technology vendors including Nokia, Oracle and Digis Squared, as well as with carefully selected local suppliers such as Angola Cables and MSTelcom, promise Africell Angola’s users an unprecedented level of service quality on a secure, trustworthy and resilient network.”

“Africell is building a mobile network in Angola that will soon be recognised as the best in the country.”

As announced in November 2021, Africell Angola awarded Digis Squared a multi-year contract to provide end to end Managed Services, covering Radio, Core, BSS, VAS and Field, for the new network in Angola, in addition to a second contract handling in-building coverage optimisation.

The Digis Squared Team celebrate the key network-launch milestone, and continue to focus their expertise and commitment on the success of the new network as we move into the next phase of the project.

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Digis Squared, enabling smarter networks.

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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Also reported by

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
 
 

Digis Squared Open RAN projects and capabilities

Digis Squared Open RAN projects and capabilities  |  Mohamed Hamdy shares details of Digis Squared’s Open RAN capabilities and describes the types of projects the team are currently working on.

This is the second in a series of blogs focussing on Open RAN, where Mohamed Hamdy, Chief Commercial Officer at Digis Squared, and AbdelRahman Fady, CTO, share their insights.

“The Digis Squared team believe that 100% of mobile operators and CSPs will move to Open RAN models sooner or later. Each MNO will deploy Open RAN according to their strategy, either in rural areas or in urban areas, and that’s why we’re giving strategic and operational focus to this.”

Mohamed Hamdy, CCO at Digis Squared

Digis Squared’s Open RAN expertise, solutions & capabilities

Mohamed, what insights can you share with us on the Open RAN work being undertaken at Digis Squared?

“The Digis Squared team believe that 100% of mobile operators and CSPs will move to Open RAN models sooner or later. Each MNO will deploy Open RAN according to their strategy, either in rural areas or in urban areas, and that’s why we’re giving strategic and operational focus to this.

The Digis Squared team started very early to build their competencies, expertise, tools and portfolio for Open RAN, as well as building a dedicated service portfolio to help MNOs to adapt their network architecture to the Open RAN model. Today, we provide insight-led multi-system and multi-vendor expertise across the entire network lifecycle.”


Digis Squared OpenRAN expertise, solutions and capabilities

“Our work tries to address five key challenges we frequently see when working with clients,

  • Lack of confidence in OpenRAN solutions
  • Sub-optimal performance with a limited vendor feature set
  • Delayed operator & vendor deployment
  • Duplicated operator & vendor interoperability testing for HW & SW
  • Lack of SI expertise for successful deployment

To address these issues we,

  • Provide independent, interoperability and performance benchmarking, for example, by working with EANTC
  • Undertake advanced E2E troubleshooting
  • Deliver extensive system release validation
  • Provide direct access to Open RAN expertise and experience in design, integration and deployment

And thereby deliver,

  • Minimised deployment costs
  • Accelerated time to value
  • Richer vendor feature set through roadmap alignment
  • High performing Open RAN solutions
  • And, successful Open RAN deployments.”

In conversation with Mohamed Hamdy, Digis Squared Chief Commercial Officer.

How can Digis Squared help you with Open RAN?

The Digis Squared team are here to help, and can provide their experience, AI-led tools, and capabilities to help operators and CSPs with all aspects of Open RAN strategy, testing and deployment optimisation.

  • We provide the industry with a range of OpenRAN related services including integration, performance benchmarking and systemisation.
  • Collaborate with operators, vendors, system integrators and research institutes to promote and accelerate OpenRAN ecosystem development, focused on,
    • System Integration
    • Interoperability between vendor components
    • Release validation
    • End to end performance benchmarking
    • Trials and PoCs.
  • Showcase and promote OpenRAN within the industry (TIP, O-RAN, GSMA)
    • Capacity solutions, cost-effective rural coverage, 5G solutions.

This Digis Squared Open RAN blog reveals some of the capabilities we have, and if you or your team would like to discover more about our OpenRAN capability, or other elements of the work we do, 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

  • CSP Communications Service Provider (ComSP)
  • SI System Integration

Image credit, Digis Squared social media and blog banner image: Charlotte Harrison

5G ◦ Why is it so complex to deploy?

In conversation with Digis Squared CTO AbdulRahman Fady, we explore some of the complexities and opportunities.

5G is a hot topic, with new handsets coming to market, and networks expanding globally. Abdulrahman Fady, CTO at Digis Squared, has worked in the technology sector for more than 20 years, and in this blog post he shares his views on how the deployment of this latest generation of telecom technologies will bring new problems to solve, and new opportunities to grasp.

So please share with us Abdulrahman, why is 5G so complex to deploy?

“By 2025, 5G networks are likely to cover one-third of the world’s population.”

Source: GSMA [1]

5G rollout, complexity and issues

“Everyone is talking about 5G and how important it is for the ICT industry. Deploying 5G will change and benefit our societies, however, to deliver the real benefits of 5G a lot of challenges need to be addressed, starting with infrastructure and security, and expanding across all spheres into people culture and anthropology, and far from the expertise and competencies of the average ICT engineer.”

“I don’t think this will be an easy journey! It will be a really tough but exciting journey, where people have to learn how to implement adequate automation and AI techniques to make use of the data 5G delivers – it simply won’t be possible to assess the volume of data without AI. Technically, I believe there will be a strong competition between legacy RAN vendors and O-RAN vendors as they compete for market leadership – this will deliver benefits for operators and CSPs, and drive innovation and identification of new efficiencies.”

5G & IoT: “many of its technical capabilities have been designed with Industry 4.0 applications in mind:

  • Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communication (URLLC) is vital for real-time communications between machines
  • Greater bandwidth and support for higher device density enables use cases that generate more data traffic and host a greater number of devices or sensors
  • Network slicing allows virtual separation of networks, enhancing security and reliability
  • Mobile Edge Computing allows critical network functionality to be retained at the edge, further enhancing resilience and operational continuity”
Source: GSMA [2]

“In the field of IIoT and C-IoT, I think there will be a lot of new ideas generated as nerds and ICT people get their hands on 5G tech. As these different approaches come together – the nerds exploring what the new tech and new devices can do, and ICT staff searching for solutions to address specific issues – they will bounce ideas of each other, and there will be real energy and dynamism as they race to bring new innovations to market.”

“5G will be a huge opportunity for the big cloud providers like Amazon, Google and Microsoft to change the way MNOs work, delivering massive real-time analysis capability, new opportunities for collaborative international teams to work together, system resilience and efficiency.”

“However, it’s not all good news! I think 5G security will be a showstopper in many countries, limiting the deployment of all its functions in some places. These issues will in turn bring great opportunities for third parties and SIs to play a far bigger role in the ICT ecosystem.”

The biggest issue

“But do you want to know the biggest issue I see? The number one challenge limiting 5G spreading swiftly worldwide, and blocking the real benefits of 5G deployments, is the complexity of handsets, the UEs and terminals.”

MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) “MIMO has been used in wireless communications for a long time now — it’s common for both mobile devices and networks to have multiple antennas to enhance connectivity and offer better speeds and user experiences. MIMO algorithms come into play to control how data maps into antennas and where to focus energy in space. Both network and mobile devices need to have tight coordination among each other to make MIMO work.”

Source: Qualcomm [3]

5G uses Massive MIMO and expands on the existing MIMO systems, by adding a much higher number of antennas on the base station – this helps focus energy, which brings massive improvements in throughput and efficiency. As well as all the additional antennas, both the network and mobile devices implement more complex designs to coordinate MIMO operations.

  • 5G utilises different parts of the radio spectrum to deliver performance, capacity and coverage
  • mmWave spectrum: best for dense urban areas and crowded indoor environments. Doesn’t travel very far, so an array of antennas is used for beamforming, which concentrates the radio energy to extend the range.
  • sub-6 GHz spectrum: best for broad 5G coverage and capacity with faster, more uniform data rates both outdoors and indoors for more users, simultaneously.

“5G handsets are super-sophisticated: they need to support Massive MIMO techniques, along with beamforming, sub-6GHZ bands, and mmWave for mobile. Designing all of this to work together is putting real pressure on antenna and RF designs – and then the ultimate challenge, physically fitting all of this into a beautiful handset design!”

“And if that’s not complex enough, we all expect our mobile devices to have incredibly efficient batteries, and yet remain small and lightweight, and deliver performance enhancements across 4G, 3G and GSM. You need very strong modems and processors deployed inside 5G handsets – and all of this in addition to the complexity 5G adds to software, OS and Kernel layers. That’s why it is not an easy job to deliver high-end 5G handsets!”

Opportunity

“There are many challenges, opportunities and battles to come as 5G rollout continues, and it will also create real opportunities and big returns if you have positioned yourself and your company right within the ecosystem.”

In conversation with Abdulrahman Fady, Digis Squared CTO

If you would like to learn more about how the Digis Squared team can help you with 5G strategy, deployment or optimisation, please use this link or email sales@DigisSquared.com to arrange an informal chat.

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

Digis Squared, independent telecoms expertise.

Sources

Abbreviations

  • C-IoT: Consumer Internet of Things (typically, consumer devices and applications in the consumer electronics space such as smartwatches or smart thermostats)
  • CSP: Communications Service Providers
  • ICT: Information and communications technology
  • IIoT: Industrial Internet of Things (interconnected sensors, instruments, and other devices networked together with computers’ industrial applications, including manufacturing and energy management)
  • Massive MIMO: a set of multiple-input and multiple-output technologies for multipath wireless communication, in which multiple users or terminals, each radioing over one or more antennas, communicate with one another.
  • O-RAN: Open RAN – via standardised radio interfaces and interoperability, hardware and software components from multiple vendors operate over network interfaces that are “open and interoperable”
  • SIs: System Integrators
  • URLLC: Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communication

Image credit: Denys Nevozhai

Regulators ◦ Now more than ever, use independent tools and expertise

Is this the perfect storm of telecoms technical complexity?

As network deployments get more complex, capacity management more difficult to predict, and customer demands rise, how can Telecoms Regulators help deliver the best customer experience?

Globally, 5G deployments are picking up pace, and 2G and 3G networks starting to be retired – engineers at MNOs and CSPs* are knee-deep in complexity, managing technology sunset strategies, IoT connectivity migrations, and adding new layers of 5G components into the patchwork of systems from multiple vendors. This activity brings with it more new operational systems and alarms to integrate (and disentangle), and extra work to try to bring everything together into a cohesive system.

On top of that, the operational teams within MNOs and CSPs have been working hard this year to reconfigure networks to handle shifts in demand, as the pandemic forces huge numbers of people to suddenly work and study from home, and unpredictable demand patterns are addressed as best as possible.

Is this the perfect storm of telecoms technical complexity? How should Telecoms Regulators respond and ensure customer Quality of Experience and Quality of Service are maintained? With so many technical changes occurring in a short space of time, how can technical regulatory staff keep pace with technology, anticipate the future, and ensure their knowledge-base remains unbiased?

Digis Squared has over 50 industry experts with 10 or more years’ multinational mobile operator and vendor experience.

Use our expertise to work alongside your teams and augment their skills and capability,

  • Independent tools for QoE & QoS network benchmarking
  • Band & spectrum strategy consultation
  • Competence development to keep pace with new technologies.

“The Digis Squared team has a depth of experience and knowledge of implementations that you only acquire through years of working on difficult projects and tricky technology deployments. The team bring these insights to all their work, whether that’s with MNOs, CSPs or Regulators.

Mohamed Hamdy, Digis Squared CCO

Independent tools for QoE & QoS network benchmarking

Regulatory coverage and performance concerns vary by market, but in general fall into 3 distinct areas,

  1. Many telecom network licenses have requirements to achieve specific KPIs: Geographical coverage, data throughput rates, QoS requirements.
  2. Legacy benchmarking solutions are often expensive, no longer supported by the vendor, and have a long and slow process to deliver the final report.
  3. When the report is eventually available, it is often a readout of dry statistics, with no clear recommendations on improvements. And with multiple solutions from multiple vendors implemented across the MNOs and CSPs in your territory, there is no standard process to rank and compare network operators.

Since the inception of Digis Squared the leadership team decided to invest and develop its own in-house, vendor-agnostic, multi-technology and scalable automated solutions, to ensure its staff and clients have access to vendor-independent assessment and testing of networks. Today, we are able to provide our clients with these tools to ensure they have an independent assessment of network capabilities. MNOs use our tools to help them accelerate network upgrades and network transformation, ensuring they are able to manage their network traffic growth and network complexity efficiently. Regulators use our tools to ensure they have the insights they need to assess KPIs independently.

INOS is the AI-led QoS and QoE benchmarking tool developed in-house at Digis Squared, using no network vendor tools.

  • Automated and efficient solution for fast and accurate reporting
  • Analysis and recommendations on improvements
  • Cross-check performance against the license to help regulators identify the gaps
  • Proven in the field with MNOs and Regulators
  • Interacts with all major vendors’ platforms, including Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia
  • Covid19 safe solution: our tools need just one person in the vehicle or building – no engineers are needed on-site, ensuring that they can do their work safely and together we can keep our communities connected.

When used by Telecoms Regulators, INOS delivers,

  • One independent, vendor and network agnostic solution
  • Fully automated reports, just 15 minutes after tests end
  • Failure insights: empowered by automation and analytics, we can deliver detailed insights into failure reason
  • INOS BM score – rank and benchmark all operators, by all services tested, across all network technologies and vendors
  • Independent and transparent scrutiny: Operators can access INOS platform, with limited and agreed privileges to review their log files and reports.

INOS KPIs include, but are not limited to,

  • Coverage & quality radio conditions
  • Field KPIs: CST, CSSR, HOSR, CDR
  • Throughput DL & UL: FTP, HTTP, HTTPs
  • Voice quality: POLQA
  • Video Quality: PEVQs
  • OTTs KPIs
  • Adopted optimisation strategy
  • Overlapping and needed neighbours’ optimisation
  • UE Happy Index

Get in touch to talk with us informally about how we can help your Regulatory teams with independent tools and expertise for network benchmarking, and discover INOS here.

Band & spectrum strategy consultation

The Digis Squared team have decades of experience working in telecoms operators and telecom equipment providers, with huge experience across many countries, implementations, technology deployments, and vendor solutions. We can work alongside your teams, or independently, to share our insights and assess innovative and commercial uses of your spectrum, to ensure optimum utilisation in your market.

  • Assess the utilisation of all existing bands
  • Evaluate service usage and importance with stakeholders
  • Policy & procedure updates
  • Spectrum audit and redeployment strategies: identify, complement, and refine all data on national spectrum use
  • Future policy: balancing the needs of end-users and spectrum-users are met to encourage investment
  • Emerging technologies: implementation scenarios and spectrum allocation recommendations for 5G, WLAN, LPWA and more.

Competence development & training

We recognise the difficulties in identifying the vendor-independent training necessary to ensure your teams are not unconsciously biased towards specific solutions.

Our team of experienced staff are well placed to deliver a broad range of technical and non-technical training.

Our approach for competence development utilises different methods to best suit the client, their culture and team needs, with an emphasis on on-job training as well as classroom training, delivered as active, participatory workshops and webinars by our technology experts. We can deliver training on-site, remotely via video link, or in your own time via online material.

Get in touch to arrange a no-obligation discussion with our team, or request a copy of our Technical Training Catalogue: sales@DigisSquared.com

“In my view, it’s more important than ever that Telecoms Regulators use independent expertise and tools in their assessments, to ensure they have a complete view of their ecosystem, and prepare for whatever storms are on the horizon.”

Mohamed Hamdy, Digis Squared CCO

Now more than ever, use independent tools and expertise in regulatory assessments.

To discuss how our independent tools and vendor-agnostic expertise can help your Regulatory Teams, please use this link or email sales@DigisSquared.com to arrange a video call.

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

Digis Squared, independent telecoms expertise.

Abbreviations

  • CSP: Communications Service Providers
  • INOS: Intelligent Network Optimisation Solution, one of Digis Squared’s AI-led automated tools.
  • MNO: Mobile Network Operator
  • QoE: Quality of Experience
  • QoS: Quality of Service

Image credit: Michael D.