Real-time 5G analytics drive service assurance from fiber to applications

Given the multi-year hype cycle that’s finally coming to fruition with operator deployments, 5G has a lot to live up to. As such, it’s important that the network delivers what it’s supposed to, according to Sophie Legault, director of product management for network test, monitoring and analytics specialist EXFO.

During a recent interview conducted in Austin, Texas, during the annual Verizon Technology User Forum event, Legault said EXFO is in a position to provide monitoring and analytics all the way from the fiber backbone to the application layer.

Reflecting on the conversations at VZTUF, Legault said, “One of the key trends obviously is all about 5G. 5G is at the core of what Verizon is looking at for the next year. There was a lot of emphasis as well on the fact that 4G remains. It’s going to remain for awhile.”

Verizon is offering a fixed wireless residential broadband service in four markets that taps the carrier’s millimeter wave spectrum holdings. While this first cut at a 5G service is based on the Verizon Technical Forum specification, which was developed in-house with key partners, Verizon execs have said the operator will move from fixed to mobile while also upgrading infrastructure to gear based on the 3GPP 5G New Radio standard.

As to the relationship with LTE, Verizon continues to upgrade its network to include advanced features such as 4X4 MIMO, 256 QAM, multi-channel carrier aggregation, as well as aggregating licensed and unlicensed spectrum via Licensed Assisted Access.

Legault continued: “A lot of talk also about automating that 5G network, making sure that it’s automated in real time and also, from an operational perspective, operational excellence. EXFO fits really well into that play in terms of helping Verizon deploy that network from the foundation of the fiber all the way up to the Layer 7 in terms of looking at the parameters of the network, making sure the network [is]running right and automating that whole process to make sure customers get that in real time. It’s really about having 5G done right right away.”

Announcing its quarterly results earlier this month, EXFO dropped the news that it  won a deal worth $4.9 million with a Tier One service U.S. carrier to support network integration and digital transformation.

The carrier will use the EXFO Ontology, a network topology platform and modules that are used for network service and customer assurance and as a data source for support of visualization, troubleshooting and other work flows for network operations, service operations and care systems. EXFO said for this customer, its platform will be used to locate and combine information from multiple data sources and turn that into a validated, accurate and searchable model; and to map and track customers’ network resources from end-to-end, therefore “generating a cohesive dataset that can be used to leverage those resources to their full potential.”

Philippe Morin, EXFO’s CEO, said in a statement that the company’s software “provides this industry leader with unmatched visibility into their network, driving operational excellence and service agility. To deliver superior customer experience, service providers must have a unified understanding of their network resources and be able to automate their consumption and change in real time across legacy and virtual networks. As this Tier 1 service provider continues its extensive digital transformation, EXFO’s real-time network topology solution is bringing their systems and people together in a way that simply wasn’t possible before.”

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