The pending commercialization and future expansion of 5G creates a number of challenges for operators, service assurance chief among them—given the massive infrastructure investment, it’s imperative to understand the quality of new services. As this shift plays out with U.S. operators leading the charge, service assurance specialist Spirent is working with key customers to expand deployment of automated network monitoring.
In an interview with RCR Wireless News during Mobile World Congress Americas in Los Angeles, Spirent’s Stephen Douglas highlighted how the move to 5G and need to gain operational agility is driving investment in a new breed of service assurance solutions.
Noting the rapid move of 5G test and measurement from the lab to operational networks, Douglas said, “The key dynamic to enable that was automation. The initial driver was agility. They wanted to be faster getting services to market. We started to work with them to do the early deployments of it and realized the actual savings behind that.”
He continued: “The acceleration of 5G in the U.S. compared to the other markets, to get it out there, created two dynamics. Pure cost is one. And how do I actually get the costs out of 5G and reduce them at the early stages of this. I think the second side of it was, suddenly, it’s not just about cost challenges. There’s a performance opportunity here. I have to deliver an above and beyond performance. That’s pretty difficult today to validate that. There really aren’t any 5G devices out there in the networks, so how are we going to validate?”

Blending service assurance and security

Douglas also noted the shifting security concerns associated with 5G, which is marked by a move from physical to virtualized infrastructure. “We’re having pervasive virtualization of the network, distributing out to remote locations. And there’s this big range of IoT devices connected. Security suddenly becomes a pretty big type of risk. How do we ensure those networks are going to be secure? And the other question is how do we do it cost effectively?”

As operators invest in network virtualization, there’s a transitory period where legacy and virtual systems are blended into a hybrid network. “You’ve got legacy assurance systems that are seeing only one part of it; other, it’s only virtualized.” He said Spirent’s solutions can be hosted in physical and virtual environments.

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