Saving cost by optimising vendor licenses

by | Feb 25, 2018 | Blog

The feature license fees charged by network vendors can be high and it is hard to identify where in the network the features are best deployed. To solve this, we used the Elisa SON Software Development Kit to create an algorithm that identifies the areas in the network where licenses are needed and benefit users. It helps to make the most out of the license investments and it saves manpower in network rollout and license distribution. We’ve done it. Now it’s your turn.

 

Use case: Vendor license optimisation

Many of the Elisa SON use cases focus on improving the customer experience through automation. Some reduce the need for manual labour – something that indirectly addresses cost. But we also have use cases that directly reduce cost.

The feature license fees charged by network vendors can be high and it is hard to identify where in the network the features are best deployed. To solve this, we used the Elisa SON Software Development Kit to create an algorithm that identifies the areas in the network where licenses are needed and benefit users. It helps to make the most out of the license investments and it saves manpower in network rollout and license distribution.

Having algorithms like this at hand enables vendor management and allow operators to mitigate the effects of different outcomes in their negotiations around vendors’ license fees. Operators can agree on a higher element of variable license fees – at the expense of lower fixed fees.

We have created several vendor license optimisation use cases, but here we focus on one specific use case for 4G LTE.

Optimising the 4G LTE carrier aggregation license

“In 2017, our Finnish network reached a fixed fee threshold in the number of carrier aggregation enabled cells”, explains Dr. Jarno Niemelä, the technical lead of Elisa SON. “If we would have continued to expand the number of carrier aggregation cells, the added variable license fees would have increased our costs significantly. To solve this, we created an algorithm that saved money with a minimal customer experience impact.”

It’s automatic and dynamic. Based on daily performance data, our algorithm decides whether a cell should turn carrier aggregation on or off. It’s an automatic decision: A cell can have carrier aggregation enabled one day but disabled the next – if the network data shows that it seldom was used. The third day it can automatically be turned on again if the network data now shows that this particular day it is required for a good customer experience. The total number of carrier aggregation licenses used is being optimised by automatically reallocating licenses from cells where carrier aggregation, at present, isn’t needed to cells where carrier aggregation is needed. No human interaction is required.

The graph below shows how we initially increased the savings until a point where the quality started to be affected negatively. We then scaled back on our savings ambition and expanded the number of cells with carrier aggregation so that the quality again met our targets.

The algorithm allowed us to cancel 40% of our carrier aggregation licenses. This is our current value. If the demand for carrier aggregation increases in the network, we can at any given time decide to  spend more and increase the total number of licenses in the network. The algorithm will then distribute them in the most optimised way.

A benefit of the use case is that we now allow ourselves to always activate a new cell with carrier aggregation enabled. No need to guess if a cell should have carrier aggregation or not. No need to waste time on defining cell-specific parameters: If the network data collected during the cell’s first day of operation shows that carrier aggregation isn’t in demand, the license is automatically cancelled. At worst it costs the license fee of one day.

Summary

With Elisa SON Software Development Kit, operators can build their own algorithms – tailored for their own unique vendor contract situation and need.

If we just look at this single use case – 4G LTE carrier aggregation feature optimisation – it has resulted in the following longer-term benefits for us:

  • More negotiation power in network vendor management
  • An automatic and dynamic allocation of carrier aggregation licenses
  • 40% of carrier aggregation licenses currently cancelled with corresponding cost savings
  • An opportunity to always activate new cells with a carrier aggregation license enabled, knowing that it will be automatically cancelled after one day if carrier aggregation isn’t in demand

We’ve done it. Now it’s your turn.

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