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Nokia Siemens Networks RNC450 to 2600 Live Upgrades

3G mobile network operators and the supporting infrastructure must continually evolve to cope with growing demand from customers for voice and in particular, data services. Network equipment vendor Nokia Siemens Networks introduced a hardware upgrade path to its Radio Network Controller (RNC) element which would facilitate this increased Radio Access Network traffic. As an existing service partner to NSN, Comvergent were asked to provide an outsourced service to support and implement this challenging upgrade programme.

Objectives

To deliver significant voice and data traffic capacity enhancements whilst minimising downtime to end-users within the geographical footprint covered by the RNC. This was to be accomplished via a programme of extremely complex hardware upgrades performed on “live” customer network elements (that is, the RNC must remain fully operational throughout the upgrade) with minimal impact to subscribers.

The delivery life cycle

As a well-respected service partner to Nokia Siemens Networks, Comvergent were engaged at the project pilot stage. This early involvement in the first pilot upgrade in the Telecom Italia RNC test bed allowed Comvergent to begin shaping the future operational delivery process. Comvergent’s remit was then to bring the knowledge into the UK arena, and become the “go-to guys” for Nokia Siemens Networks for delivering the upgrade to UK network operators who wanted to take this RAN capacity upgrade path.

Comvergent were quickly presented into Orange UK and MBNL test bed environments to showcase the upgrade process and its complexities. It became apparent very quickly that Comvergent had to show a great deal of flexibility as each mobile operator wanted bespoke ATM/IP Interface design criteria for their final RNC2600 configurations, which meant detailed planning, testing and fine tuning with each operator’s design teams to ensure the upgrade would give them their required interface configurations after the upgrade.

A significant number of man-hours was allocated to trialling and tweaking the upgrade processes, procedures, taking into account unique customer requirements. Comvergent ensured the design, delivery and operational teams alike were completely satisfied and comfortable in taking this complex upgrade to their live network environment.

By the time of the first live network RNC upgrade in the UK in January 2010, NSN had entrusted the entire end-to-end on-site upgrade process, procedures and bespoke customer requirement provision to Comvergent, testament to the knowledge, dedication and commitment of the team supporting NSN’s customer base.

Since the first live upgrade in 2010, Comvergent have delivered this complex upgrade on operator networks in the UK and across Europe. In addition to turn-key project delivery, Comvergent also provided knowledge transfer and mentoring services to NSN’s local in-country teams giving them a robust framework for future infrastructure support.

Some UK mobile operators recognised the complexities involved in the live upgrade process and wanted a less risky solution to turning the incumbent RNC450 into an RNC2600. Comvergent worked alongside Nokia Siemens Networks in the UK to develop and deliver a suitable on site solution which satisfied the end customer’s requirements. This was achieved successfully, and Comvergent spent the majority of 2011 in delivering this solution in the UK.

The results

Over the past three years, Comvergent have worked closely with Nokia Siemens Networks and UK and European Mobile Network Operators successfully delivering the capacity increases their network traffic profiles have demanded. The on-site upgrades have all been completed in a timely and efficient manner, whilst the expertise of Comvergent engineers and consultants has ensured a proactive solution to all the challenges which have been presented during the project life cycle.

Feedback from both NSN and their customers has been overwhelmingly positive, as demonstrated by extracts from post-project communications:

“The expertise and effort that has consistently gone into ensuring the success of this programme to upgrade RNCs throughout this last nine months, nearly all of which were on-line, should not be under estimated. ….through each of the high pressure live upgrades the team has demonstrated great professionalism and expertise… Well done.”

“This has been a great effort and very successful programme… great pride should be taken by the whole team in their achievements. Well done!”

“The success of this programme has been fundamental to sustain our phenomenal traffic growth.”

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