How is Ericsson helping towercos navitage the challenging tower landscape?
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How is Ericsson helping towercos navitage the challenging tower landscape?

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Visitors to Towerxchange will be well aware of how the business is rapidly changing and adapting as 5G is deployed around the world. Nello Califano, Ericsson’s Head Of Global Strategy & Product Development says his company has identified the main trends and is ready to help them to make the most of the opportunities offered.

Nello has been promoting digital transformation in network services with the launch of Intelligent Deployment, including Ericsson Site Digital Twin solution, and Service Continuity to pre-empt any failure in C-IoT and Smart Industry scenarios. In the Market dimension he covered different senior managerial roles in Sales and Operation, in both Enterprise and Operator markets, always having a high interwork with all major Telco customers in Europe, North Africa and Latin America.

He is very focused on Artificial Intelligence, VR/AR and Blockchain applications how product and services can leverage on new technologies to make deployment faster, networks always more reliable and support Operators and Towercos to monetize 5G.

TowerXchange: What are the main trends that Ericsson see that you expect to be discussed at TowerXchange?

Nello Califano, Head of Global Strategy & Product Development for Services Area Network:

There is a lot going on in the space at the moment and it’s a very exciting time for towercos – they are becoming increasingly active, taking more responsibility for the delivery of services and diversifying their businesses, at the same time as there are more demands placed on them, both by real estate managers and by communications service providers (CSPs).

All of them want to see 5G deployed as quickly and seamlessly as possible so that they can enjoy the benefits of it and start to monetize it, but they also want it done in a sustainable way. Recent volatility in energy markets means that they want much more control over the energy they use and what they pay for it, and of course they want to keep waste to a minimum.

Towercos are also embracing digitalization and automation to increase operational efficiency, and they are actively exploring indoor network-neutral host business opportunity, building their own indoor systems and managing that equipment on behalf of all of the operators and offering networks as a service.

TowerXchange: What role do towercos have to play in the development of 5G?

Nello Califano, Head of Global Strategy & Product Development for Services Area Network:

Towercos are actually in a fascinating position when it comes to that deployment, as they sit in a “sweet spot” that enables them to offer a lot of value at a time when CSPs are looking very carefully at their capital and operational expenses, and every dollar spent has to be maximized.

The towercos are uniquely positioned to help them, and they can do so by offering infrastructure solutions and entering into strategic partnerships with communications service providers (CSPs), as well as offer flexible solutions. If they can do all this while maintaining and improving sustainability, energy efficiency and network performance, they will find the CSPs very willing to listen to what they have to say.

TowerXchange: How is digitization helping this process?

Nello Califano, Head of Global Strategy & Product Development for Services Area Network:

The use of digital twins, where a digital version of an existing site is created and can then be reconfigured and tested, has been a game-changer. Almost all of the risky work of making changes to an existing site can be tried in the digital world first, and problems can be identified and ironed out there before the solution is applied in the real world. Doing things this way allows for a huge amount of flexibility in planning, and drastically reduces the risk of network outages when the solution goes live.

The challenge is now to move towards an “Intelligent Digital Twin” which is able to increase the contribution made by artificial intelligence (AI), helping the Towercos to track the status of the network, anticipate problems, speed up resolution and advise if there are changes needed based on the traffic map and the operator’s requirements.

Vast amounts of data are also generated by every site, and by collecting and analyzing it, towercos and CSPs can quickly identify weak spots and feed into prediction and preemption of network faults or outages. For instance, real-time hardware data can be used to predict when a particular component will fail, enabling the network owner to take remedial action before it occurs. This is one example of how things can be optimized, and changes and savings can be made, leading to better, more efficient networks and less waste.

TowerXchange: How has turbulence in the energy markets affected towercos, and what can be done about it?

Nello Califano, Head of Global Strategy & Product Development for Services Area Network:

This is an issue that more or less every towerco in the world is currently facing, and Ericsson has the smart energy solutions to help them address it. Some of it is done by using as little energy as possible, and Ericsson network equipment is designed with this in mind. They can also go into deep sleep mode when the demands on the network reduce – outside of peak times, for instance – and then wake up again when the extra capacity is needed.

But the solutions now go well beyond that, and Ericsson Smart Site offers an energy management solution whereby towercos can take control of the overall process of how they use energy. The main driver for this is often to reduce energy costs and CO2 levels, but it is being increasingly used to manage and reduce the increased risk levels associated with energy supply.

For instance, if a grid outage should happen, operators need how to keep service going - there is the ability to switch energy sources based on the cost or the time of day, powering the network from the grid when financially viable, and switching to battery power or other sources to avoid high tariffs at other times.

A fascinating opportunity for towercos exists in energy management and the possibility to integrate with energy grids – this would enable them to create revenue streams from their energy usage and storage. This could be done by participating in frequency regulation and demand response programs.

TowerXchange: How can towercos explore the indoor network-neutral host business opportunity?

Nello Califano, Head of Global Strategy & Product Development for Services Area Network:

This is another opportunity that hits the sweet spot where towercos sit – for the most part, building owners and managers want the best connectivity possible with the least amount of hassle. They don’t want five or six different CSPs setting up their equipment, asking for server rooms and so on in their buildings; ideally, they would like to have one partner looking after all of that infrastructure and the related services, with the CSPs operating on top of that.

Sharing neutral-host infrastructure also allows CSPs to not only reduce CAPEX while serving more buildings, but also to improve operational and energy efficiency, while being a single point of contact means that towercos can occupy an influential place in the value chain.

TowerXchange: Sustainability is a key factor in almost every business decision these days – how are towercos responding to the demands of operators and real estate managers?

Nello Califano, Head of Global Strategy & Product Development for Services Area Network:

These days there is a much greater focus on energy – where it comes from, what it’s used for and what it costs, and renewable sources of energy are very much sought-after for a variety of reasons. In recent years, every system that Ericsson has delivered is prepared for plug-and-play solar energy, and the focus now is deploying solar and other sustainable energy solutions on-site. This enables towercos and CSPs alike to enjoy cost savings, and also contributes towards reduced emissions.

As already mentioned, adding intelligence to our Ericsson solutions with increased use of AI and machine learning (ML), towercos can maximize network performance while minimizing waste. Many of these tools work automatically in the background, preventing problems before they have a chance to occur and identifying areas for improvement. In fact, many of our customers are telling us that their sustainability goals will in some cases override their financial goals in the short and medium term – that’s how important sustainability is to them.

TowerXchange: What do you expect the discussion at TowerXchange to centre on?

Nello Califano, Head of Global Strategy & Product Development for Services Area Network:

As always for us, it will be about listening to what the players in this space are saying, identifying their challenges and helping them to find solutions. This is a very exciting time for the towercos and there has never been as broad a range of possibilities available to them – the key is to help them make the most of these opportunities in a sustainable way. The trends we at Ericsson have been and will be talking about cover a lot of the topics that are of interest for them, and the basic needs remain the same – CSPs need to deploy and manage equipment close to their users, and towercos are rapidly evolving to help them do so, as are we.

Ericsson’s experts have published a blog examining the trends they say in the towerco landscape and what communications service providers (CSPs), towercos and real estate managers need to know about them – you can read the full blog here.

For more information on Ericsson’s full range of network services, visit their website.

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