New Delhi: Vodafone Idea Ltd. (VIL) and Bharti Airtel are embracing technologies such as machine learning to automate their networks and transform them into “self-healing networks” to offer better customer experience. Both telecom operators are also cloudifying their respective core networks to be ready for 5G technology.

Bharti Airtel is investing heavily in the area of automation and orchestration, and is also working with a lot of partners, said its newly appointed chief technology officer Randeep Sekhon. “Our real journey is to make a self-healing network, which means it should be able to predict a fault and should be able to fix it before it starts to impact customer experience,” he told ET.

VIL’s chief technology officer Vishant Vora separately told ET that the telco is building additional capabilities through the integration of network and IT that is also transforming billing and provisioning. “All of that comes through putting in things like machine learning, which I call machine intelligence, based on lots of analytics and data, and making sure network itself has the intelligence to act on its own but always assisted by a human being,” he said.

Vora said that VIL is cloudifying its entire core network, which is now very much similar to a 5G core network and gives the telco flexibility to offer new services. “We can offer many 5G capabilities now on our 4G network because we have modernised our core network,” he said.

Bharti Airtel’s Sekhon said that the telco is introducing a lot more optics to its transport network, and has moved the core network to the cloud. “We are evolving the entire network knowing that there will a 5G network and there will huge data volumes,” he said.

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VIL is in the process of merging networks of Vodafone and Idea, and has a plan to exit more than 90,000 sites to cut on duplication and reduce capital and operational expenditure. Having finished integration in nine circles, it is now aiming to finish the integration by June 2020. It had provided a three-year outlook for integration at the time of the merger.

“It is a great opportunity for us to put in future proof technologies… we are going to have a very large-scale deployment of massive mimo. It’s a 5G technology being put in the 4G network and will give a lot of capacity. That actually helps create better throughput and user experience for all our data clients in 4G,” said Vora.

Bharti Airtel, on the other hand, is building coverage and capacity to improve its 4G services. Sekhon said the company is adding more spectrum for 4G in metro circles and will soon finish its 900Mhz 4G project in 10 circles.

The telco has liberalised spectrum which is being converted into 4G. It has also started work on the 2100 MHz band where at least one carrier can be refarmed for 4G, said Sekhon.



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