Thursday, 22 July 2021 09:16

Nokia and Vodafone harness machine learning to detect network anomalies

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Nokia and Vodafone launched a jointly developed machine learning (ML) product, running on Google Cloud, to quickly detect and remediate network anomalies before they impact Vodafone customers.

Based on Nokia Bell Labs technology and developed after a Nokia Vodafone agreement signed in 2020, the Anomaly Detection Service product is being rolled out across Vodafone’s pan-European network. The product quickly detects and troubleshoots irregularities, such as mobile site congestion and interference, and unexpected latency, that can impact customer service quality.

Following an initial deployment in Italy on more than 60,000 4G cells, Vodafone will extend the service to all its European markets by early 2022. Anomaly detection is offered “as-a-service,” an important dimension to Nokia’s Cloud and Network Services’ business group strategy, and there are plans to eventually apply Anomaly Detection Service to Vodafone’s 5G and core networks.

Vodafone expects that around 80 percent of all its anomalous mobile network issues and capacity demands will be automatically detected and addressed using Anomaly Detection Service.

Deployment on Google Cloud allows Vodafone engineers to make fast and informed decisions, like boosting capacity where customers need it most, based on data managed through Google Cloud’s secure and reliable data and analytics services. On Google Cloud, Anomaly Detection Service allows the streaming of network data to Vodafone’s data analytics platform, enabling analysis simultaneously of data across multi-vendor environments.

The Nokia-Vodafone deal signed last year complements Vodafone’s recent six-year agreement with Google Cloud, also a Nokia partner, to jointly build integrated cloud-based capabilities backed by hubs of networking and software engineering expertise.

Vodafone chief technology officer Johan Wibergh said, “We are building an automated and programmable network that can respond quickly to our customers’ needs. As we extend 5G across Europe, it is important to match the speed and responsiveness of this new technology with a great service. With machine learning, we can ensure a consistently high-quality performance that is as smart as the technology behind it.”

Google Cloud managing director telecom industry solutions Amol Phadke said, “We are thrilled to partner with Nokia and Vodafone to deliver a data- and AI-driven solution that scales quickly and leverages automation to increase cost efficiency and ensures seamless customer experiences across Europe. As behaviours change and the data needed for analysis increases in velocity, volume, and complexity, automation and a cloud-based data platform are now key in making fast and informed decisions.”

Analysys Mason research director Anil Rao said, "Vodafone's anomaly detection use case, developed in partnership with Nokia and run on Google Cloud, automates root-cause analysis for efficient network planning, optimisation, and operations. This type of partnership provides a new opportunity for operators to rethink data management and increase the focus on use cases and application development.”

Nokia president of cloud and network services Raghav Sahgal said, “This first commercial deployment of Anomaly Detection Service with Vodafone on Google Cloud provides a great boost to customer service. It not only addresses the critical need to quickly detect and remedy anomalies impacting network performance using machine learning-based algorithms, but it also highlights Nokia’s technology leadership and the deep technical expertise of Nokia Bell Labs.”

It will be interesting to see if this gets deployed on the Vodafone branded TPG mobile network in Australia. VHA took more than half a decade to recover from the issues surrounding the merger and migration of the Hutchison 3 customers onto the Vodafone network. A product like the Anomaly Detection Service, will ensure a more robust and reliable network. The corporate memory in the now TPG executives will want to avoid the Vodafail issues, a decade ago. The cost of this ML service, would far out-weigh the repercussions of systemic network failures on the business.

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Chris Coughlan

A versatile technology executive with extensive experience in most disciplines and technologies in the Information and Communications Technologies sector. Roles have encompassed general management, product management, business development, sales management, industry marketing, operations management, research and development, business case development, market research and forecasting, regulatory, strategy management, solution development, major project construction, process design and management, technology and management consulting, and engineering.

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