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Spirent 5G Blog Series: New Savings

5G ready to serve up cost savings – will you get your fair share?

Spirent 5G Blog Series: New Savings If the sun has risen to bring a new day, chances are there’s another company talking about yet another 5G use case. With so much promise, you can’t blame an expanding ecosystem for being giddy about the many paths that will open to cash in on 5G. But often lost amongst the breathless banter of 5G opportunities is what everyone’s favorite next-gen tech will bring in the way of cost savings.

The value proposition goes like this: the transformation to software-based virtual networks eliminates many capital expenditures. At the same time, the dynamic nature of virtualized services will require substantial automation of service delivery and assurance, resulting in improved productivity and reduced operating expenses.

Several aspects of 5G architecture set the stage for these cost savings. For example, centralized and virtualized Radio Access Networks (RANs), core network virtualization and network slicing, and the new methods required to manage and orchestrate the network and services in real-time. The question is, once you’ve deployed, how can you be sure you’re maximizing cost savings?

Let’s first take a look at the key network architecture components that will deliver important cost efficiencies, including C-RAN and Cloud-RAN, core network virtualization and slicing, and management and network orchestration.

C-RAN (Centralized) and Cloud-RAN (Virtualized)

5G separates the base station radio elements from the baseband signal processing elements, thus enabling the signal processing elements to be centralized, virtualized and hosted in the cloud. RAN intelligence, therefore, becomes a shared resource rather than dedicated to each antenna site.

An Ethernet-based fronthaul network now connects the radio and signaling elements, providing a more cost-effective alternative than the proprietary point-to-point CPRI interface.

Centralized and Cloud-RAN deployments do, however, present some challenges. For example, the fronthaul high-speed, low latency network’s performance must be monitored closely and synchronized accurately. Proactive RAN service assurance and continuous test will be critical to help assure that the network always delivers expected performance and simplify the turn-up of new cell sites.

Core Network Virtualization and Slicing

Virtualization lowers capital and operating expenses via scalability, flexibility and obsolescence of proprietary hardware. In addition, network slicing plus control and user plane separation enable the virtual network to be distributed into multiple virtual networks and functions. This optimizes resource utilization and eliminates the need to over-provision the network.

Because each virtual service will have its own performance requirements and service level agreements (SLAs), end-to-end testing and continual service assurance will be complex and require automation to satisfy the real-time nature of virtualization.

Management and network orchestration

Virtualized, dynamic 5G services and networks must be managed in real time. And that can’t be done without automation.

The resulting efficiency breakthroughs are great but also introduce unique challenges that require agile and flawless testing approaches. For example:

  • Traffic patterns—even during busy hours—are no longer predictable;
  • The 5G network topology must adapt in real-time to user demand, while still guaranteeing quality of service; and
  • Monitoring techniques can no longer depend on known topologies and context, but must continuously adapt to changing conditions.

Continuous, automated service assurance is essential for 5G

Maximizing 5G’s cost savings will mean thorough testing of the new technologies it will bring to market, both for turn-up and continuous assurance. Innovative intelligent and automated processes, such as lifecycle service assurance and active testing, are essential to realizing 5G’s cost savings.

Lifecycle service assurance automates network validation, on-boarding, service activation, and SLA monitoring across the service lifecycle. It does this by providing a unified set of service assurance building blocks that enable rapid, cost-effective automation.

Active testing uses test agents and synthetic traffic to emulate real network traffic on-demand and to monitor network and service quality. Software-based virtual test agents can be dynamically moved to any service end point or any network segment having performance issues.

Lifecycle service assurance and active testing squeeze significant cost savings out of the network. Based on our ongoing work with a tier-one customer, active testing can confirm a network issue 98 percent faster and with 100 percent accuracy compared to passive monitoring and analytics. This means faster resolution time and less costly manual effort.

Assuring 5G savings

Top North American mobile operators have used our intelligent, automated service assurance solutions to automate more than 50 functions and save millions in costs, with ROI in as little as 12 months.

Deploying lifecycle service assurance across a range of networks has saved our customers more than $20M annually, with active test driven by intelligent automation reducing operating expenses by as much as $2 per-subscriber-per-year.

Follow our 5G blog series and download our Assure 5G white paper to learn more about how automation across the service lifecycle, proactive test services, and analytics will assure your 5G savings. Check back for more 5G assurance insights and join in the conversation by contacting us below. We look forward to hearing from you.

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