At the Autonomous Networks Summit held in Copenhagen, Denmark on September 20, 2023, the fifth edition of the Autonomous Networks (AN) whitepaper — Autonomous Networks: Empowering digital transformation – Evolving from Level 2/3 towards Level 4, jointly written by TM Forum and 66 industry partners, was officially released. Many industry partners, including China Mobile, Vodafone, Telefonica, Zain, AIS, MTN, EANTC, and Huawei, attended the release conference.
The past four years witnessed five releases of the AN whitepaper and significant progress in the development of systematic AN concepts, standards, implementation methods, and application cases. This has resulted in a widespread consensus within the industry and notable achievements in AN standards, practices, and deployment. The fifth edition of the AN whitepaper made the following progress based on the fourth edition:
1. Social and Business Value of AN
According to the whitepaper, AN can unlock social value by facilitating high-quality development of the extensive ICT industry, empowering digital transformation in many industries, stimulating the digital economy, and fulfilling various Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations, including zero hunger (SDG 2), quality education (SDG 4), clean energy (SDG 7), economic growth (SDG 8), industry, innovation and infrastructure (SDG 9), and sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11). At the same time, AN is creating tremendous business value to CSPs in four aspects, including enabling network monetization, achieving efficient operations, increasing resource efficiency, and improving customer experience.
2. General Characteristics of AN Levels
In the whitepaper, general L4 characteristics and the key points of L3-to-L4 evolution are summarized from business and capability perspectives. Domain-specific L4 characteristics can be defined based on the guiding principles of the general L4 characteristics to help CSPs and vendors plan more advanced AN capabilities.
The AN framework (ANF) is proposed by TM Forum and many industry partners to help CSPs formulate AN strategies and advance operations practices. It includes four key elements (KEIs, level standards, target architecture, and AN map), operations practices, and industry assessment and certification, helping CSPs quickly fulfil the Zero-X and Self-X vision.
4. AN Business Cases and Key Enabling Technologies
30 cases in the whitepaper offer a systematic description of how to apply key AN concepts, such as the target architecture, closed-loop mechanism, Self-X capabilities, single-domain autonomy, and cross-domain collaboration in the production and service scenarios of CSPs. Furthermore, these cases serve as a valuable reference for CSPs to improve their 2B revenue and enable more services. TM Forum outlined the technologies that will enable the development of L4 and L5. These include network AI foundation model, trustworthiness technology, digital twin, online simulation, cognitive intelligence, human-machine symbiosis, TelcoGPT, and knowledge management. The whitepaper calls on industry partners to collaborate and make technical breakthroughs to develop innovative applications.
The period from 2023 to 2025 is crucial for CSPs to formulate AN strategies, accelerate large-scale AN implementation, and evolve from L2 or L3 to L4. The fifth edition of the AN whitepaper can provide CSPs with methodology guidance, practical reference, and innovative ideas and promote the healthy and prosperous growth of the AN industry.