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Broadband Forum launches new AI-driven industry standards
Thu, 18th Jan 2024

The Broadband Forum has announced the launch of two new industry standards designed to ramp up the quality of network services delivered to customers through the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). These standards are specifically aimed at identifying and possibly averting network faults before they affect service provision.

The newly implemented Automated Intelligence Management (AIM) framework leverages AI, Machine Learning (ML), and automation to streamline operational efficiency and curtail Operating Expenditure (OpEx). The framework promises to lessen on-site maintenance requirements and/or human interventions, providing the ability to foresee faults before the user acknowledges or encounters a service disruption.

"AIM promises to unlock new revenue streams and save costs for service providers, that have had to increase Capital Expenditure (CapEx) to scale their networks", said Bruno Cornaglia, from Vodafone, who also serves as a Broadband Forum SDN/NFV Work Area Director. He continues, "For improved network monitoring and maintenance, these innovative technologies and solutions are available to be adopted to provide increased flexibility and seamless integration within deployed networks via their cloud-native nature."

The TR-436 (Access & Home Network O&M Automation/Intelligence) defines the AIM framework, whereas TR-486 (Interfaces for AIM) explains its associated interfaces to promote seamless vendor interoperability. Both specifications supplement the cloud-integrated network automation, minimal-maintenance operations, and streamlined deployments offered by the CloudCO series of standards.

One practical application of the AIM framework pertains to monitoring and troubleshooting of home Wi-Fi networks. The system can automatically detect when service levels fall short, generating recommendations and reconfigurations to restore optimal performance levels.

Another instance of the AIM framework's application hinges on network probes that identify network performance between the subscriber premises and anywhere in the network. Closed-loop service assurance, a feature of the AIM framework, recognises the optimal network route for service flow and ensures user experience despite network congestion. This use case also builds on the Broadband Forum's QED and subscriber session steering work and was showcased at Broadband Forum’s recent CloudCO Demo at Network X.

Mauro Tilocca, from TIM - Telecom Italia, who also serves as the Broadband Forum Service Provider Action Council Chair, remarked that, "Service assurance with performance monitoring and automated traffic steering is an attractive proposition as it enables an automated and intelligent way to operate the network with minimal human intervention." He further explains, "The new specifications deliver an entire framework to empower network capabilities, via AI/ML-based recommendations. The AIM pipeline components can be implemented as virtualised functions in a cloud-native environment, allowing a high degree of reusability per modern DevOps and GitOps paradigms, as well as flexible and seamless deployments."

The novel standards offer the framework and interfaces for single domain and end-to-end root cause examination and path degradation predictions, extending to detailed end-to-end customer experience assessments and facilitating any suggested improvements.