Amdocs puts band together to play a sweet HetNet deployment tune

They may not have asked for it, but operators might just get what they need with Amdocs' ecosystem approach to Het Net planning and small cell deployment.

It’s unusual to find a telco vendor that says that it is offering something that operators have not asked for, but that is what Justin Paul, Head of OSS Marketing at Amdocs, says of the HetNet Ecosystem Partner Program that Amdocs is announcing at Small Cells World Summit this week.

Asked if Amdocs is putting its partnership programme – intended to make the process of planning and deploying small cells easier and quicker – together because operators have been demanding more integrated solutions, Paul said: “I don’t think they really have.”

How are your teams going to cope in this bespoke way for each site? Can you scale for that? The brave ones say no, and most are bit shifty

Instead, Paul says, Amdocs is anticipating wider realisation of what a very few operators have already found out: that planning, configuring and installing small cell sites in the same manner as macro sites will not scale economically. “What is interesting is operators have been trialling small cells and have pushed the running of the trial to their providers and almost washed their hands of it. When we talk about how they will roll that out they speak in terms of the methodologies they have for macro cells where everything is a thing of beauty – a one off design.

“We quiz them on this and say OK it works for the trial and can manage 10-100 small cells, but see what happens when you are trying to roll out 2-3 times the total number of your macro sites in just 2-3 years. How are your teams going to cope in this bespoke way for each site? Can you scale for that? The brave ones say no, and most are bit shifty,” Paul said.

Paul said that if the planning of small cells goes wrong, they will quickly become economically unviable, with the cost of supporting them being more than the cost of equipment. In that sense, the economics of Het Net rollouts require a lot more tools.

Amdocs has announced five partners in its ecosystem –  access point vendor ip.access, backhaul specialist Radwin, planning software provider Ranplan,  WiFI mitigation experts GoNet Systems and inventory software from GE. Paul said there would be more, starting with more companies ready to join Ranplan in the planning and design skillset.

Paul added the idea of the ecosystem is to offer a “loose affiliation” of partners that can offer an operator a package of capabilities. Amdocs has been good at orchestrating rollouts, he said, but has been missing some “levels of granularity”.

They were saying they were winning deals and then finding those deals were not as big as they thought because the operators have significant challenges on volume.

The decision to partner with an access point vendor in ip.access is the “least easy to explain” Paul said, but it came about as ip.access has been finding that planning and deployment barriers have slowed down sales of its products to operators that have signed deals.

“They were saying they were winning deals and then finding those deals were not as big as they thought because the operators have significant challenges on volume. We have orchestration systems that accelerate that and makes it easier, then they sell them faster because the operators can roll out faster. So that’s hopefully win-win-win for everyone. We sell what we sell and they sell what they want, the operator deploys faster, and the whole market moves forward.”

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