Digital Twins for 5G: Pros, Cons, and How to Get Started

Digital Twins for 5G: Pros, Cons, and How to Get Started

5 Dec 2022 Written by Sharon

Digital twin technology is big news in the tower industry.  Drone-enabled data acquisition and digital twin software have made it possible for TowerCos to understand their assets more than ever before: from portfolio-level insights down to the details of each field asset.  Now, as TowerCos face the challenges posed by the 5G network rollout, digital twins are more useful than ever – for both TowerCos and for their tenants, the MNOs.

vHive’s clients in the tower industry are continuing to find new uses for digital twins and new ways to serve their customers.  We’ve put together a short list of the pros and cons of digital twins for 5G towers – and some tips on how to get started.

Digital Twins for 5G Towers: the Pros and Cons

Tower companies are working hard to support their tenants on their 5G network rollout, and what 5G providers say they need is data: more information about towers and where they may have an opportunity to place new equipment.  That’s where digital twins offer major benefits to stakeholders.

Pros of Digital Twins:

  • Creates a Single, Undeniable Source of Truth
  • Enables Analysis and Insights
  • Eliminates information silos

Digital twins answer a major question for large organizations and their customers – what’s really out in the field?  After mergers and acquisitions, global pandemics, staffing changes and 5G rollouts, the answer isn’t always clear.  Digital twins provide an indisputable record of what actually exists, and digital twins can be created more easily and more quickly than traditional methods of field survey.

Once that digital data is there,  AI-powered analysis is applied.  Users can also tag or annotate equipment and run reports that provide the business insights for 5G installation needs.  Digital twin analysis can identify vacant space for new equipment, provide information on tenancy ratios, and calculate load to prevent tower overloading.  Sorting equipment by tenant helps with accurate billing.  Automated inspection analysis leads to more efficient maintenance processes.

Digital twins can eliminate information silos in an organization, by ensuring that all the contextual data around a field asset can be found in one place.  Eliminating information silos leads to better organizational efficiency and a better customer experience.

Cons:

  • New Technology Necessitates Change

Cost of any new platform is always an issue to be overcome, but the ROI for digital twins is well-defined.  The biggest problem that customers have in implementing a digital twin platform is simply that it’s new technology.  As digital twins become more common in the marketplace, that barrier is becoming lower all the time – but new workflows still require a champion to get things started.  That champion may be found throughout the organization: in billing, customer relationships, business development, or inspection but management involvement accelerates the process.  Once a department sees the benefit of digital twin technology, they’re ready to get started.

How to Get Started

  • Set Your Goals
  • Start Small and Scale
  • Choose the right partners

At vHive, we’ve helped many TowerCos get started in building a digital twin portfolio of their assets.  We recommend that clients start with a small number of clear, well-defined goals: like improving billing accuracy, identifying opportunities for new equipment, or updating the internal asset management systems.

With the first goals of the program defined, companies can start small – and scale from there.  Small projects are easier to get approved and easy to get up and running.  Initial success leads quickly to scaled projects throughout the organization as more users see the benefit of the technology.

As companies implement their digital twin strategy, they’ll need to work with their service provider closely to get up and running and optimize the benefits of the technology.  We’ve written this blog post about what you should ask a digital twin platform provider before making a purchase decision.  Doing the research up front can help ensure a good match between project goals and provider capabilities.

Digital twin software has a lot to offer  Tower Companies and their tenants.  When more stakeholders have access to accurate, understandable information new projects like the 5G rollout move faster and more efficiently.  As mobile operators, telecom equipment companies and even countries compete for a leading position in the 5G race, digital twins can be leveraged for smoother transitions and greater profitability.

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