In a recent meeting, the director declared, “Agility, Intelligence, Efficiency, Quality, Sustainability are a set of Program Foundational Drivers guiding us in our Transformation journey. We’re focusing initially on single autonomous use cases and AI before moving to more intricate, cross-domain use cases. We are defining an automation architecture (Network Brain Heart) and hierarchy based on AI algorithms embodied in every layer. A committed executive committee has been established, including our CTIO, and a KPI-driven three-year plan focusing on autonomous network, sustainability goals, and quality goals has been ironed out.”

In 2021, Telefónica set off on a program called Autonomous Network Journey (ANJ). ANJ’s objective is to advance autonomous network (AN) management from multiple perspectives—not only increasing autonomy but also managing key elements such as data, architecture, enablers, and fortifying staff skills. Basic essentials, such as security and sustainability, are cardinal to this initiative. Telefónica is applying this program across its businesses in Europe and HispAm.

In its leap towards autonomous network management, Telefónica has been actively defining standards, developing use cases, and collaborating with leading standard-development organizations (SDOs) such as TM Forum, ETSI, GSMA, 3GPP, and ITU-T.

Adapting to the intricate terrain of autonomous network landscape (ANL), Telefónica has implemented a methodology from leading SDOs coupled with the characteristics of its own network. This results in a scale representing the overall value of the ANL (as showcased in Figure 1). Employing this scale, Telefónica has established a questionnaire, broken down into five stages of a closed loop—awareness, analysis, decision, execution, and intents. This facilitates the calculation of the company’s autonomy level rated from zero to five.

Innovations and reference solutions such as Vivo Config have ensured an efficient response to the challenges of 5G network expansion in Brazil. This automated solution simplifies and fast-tracks the integration, configuration, and provisioning of the network transport and mobile access layers centrally. It has not only yielded over 42,000 hours of work savings, but also reduced network alarms by an estimated 25% and rework by 30%.

Telefónica’s push towards energy efficiency promotion and emissions reduction is also noteworthy. Comparative studies of electricity consumption in copper and fiber networks showed fiber is 85% more efficient per user. Similarly, 5G technology provided 90% more efficiency than 4G in terms of power consumed per unit of traffic. These sustainability endeavors resulted not only in enormous savings—an excess of €1.71 million ($1.87 million)—and reduced electricity consumption but also prevented over 3 million tons of CO2 emissions. This marks a significant stride in Telefónica’s journey towards a sustainable future.