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Active Assurance Offers a Competitive Lift for Telco Private Networks


Active assurance is quickly emerging as a key differentiator, super-charging other critical network solution elements like slicing on the 5G Standalone (SA) core, and strategic public cloud or edge deployments.

There is no shortage of competitors vying for a piece of the burgeoning private network market. Especially as capacity, speed and latency demands of next-gen industry applications such as manufacturing and agriculture create urgent opportunities to serve right at this moment.

Suddenly, telcos are uniquely positioned to capitalize with a cost-efficient, high-performance approach.

Assurance is emerging as the key enabler, super-charging other critical network solution elements like slicing on the 5G Standalone (SA) core, and strategic public cloud or edge deployments.

As our 5G 2021 Market Drivers, Insights And Considerations report revealed, the past year has seen a considerable uptick in preparation for 5G SA rollouts. It’s a trend playing out across geographies. The timing couldn’t be better aligned with real market needs.

Anatomy of a massively compelling enterprise offering

The next-gen applications being scoped to support a new age of industry are going to require localized, reliable and secure capabilities. AI processing for computer vision and high-def video uplink feeds will require both high bandwidth and deterministically low latency.
Of course, customers will bring not just technical demands, but stringent SLAs dictating bulletproof performance.

Operators are up to the task, buoyed by distinct network advancements that form the basis for a new generation of private network architecture:

  • Network slicing on the 5G SA core. With 5G cores rolling out, operators now have the capability to carve out private slices reserved for specific customers. These slices can be optimized to match the demands of the applications that will traverse them.

  • Public cloud. Operators are racing to create tie-ups with cloud companies that help them deliver fast, keep overhead costs low and expand to meet virtually limitless demand. Telco networks plus internet scale equal a match made in heaven.

  • Edge networks. There are only so many ways to drive latencies low or cost-effectively process massive amounts of mobile data. The laws of physics dictate that edge networks must be part of the private network equation.

Taken together, these three important network elements theoretically bring the capabilities needed to meet the outsized demands discerning enterprise customers will bring. They’re just missing one thing: the glue that ensures each perform optimally, always.

That would be active service assurance.

As our 2021 report found, active assurance is being adopted into networks way ahead of the curve of any previous mobile network generation.

5G is make or break. It’s running mission critical apps. It’s coordinating more hardware, software and network locations than ever. It’s got something to prove.

That’s why active assurance is the answer. By utilizing a pro “active” approach, active assurance provides automated, synthetic traffic generation across the network, working in the background to continuously validate performance and identify and isolate issues before customers are impacted.

Public cloud is still public cloud. It scales, but the hyperscalers make no performance guarantees. So assurance has to feature prominently to ensure the cloud performs as desired for mission critical telco services.

On network slices, active assurance is continuously monitoring performance with feedback loops into the Operational Support Systems (OSS) and now into the new 3GPP Release 16 network data analytics function (NWDAF), proactively alerting about potential impact issues and rapidly isolating faults. As a result, trouble is solved before it can affect performance and dent SLAs.

Bringing the private network opportunity to life

At Mobile World Congress Barcelona this summer, we demonstrated this very configuration, along with AWS.

The demo showed a public cloud deployment utilizing active assurance at the edge and core data centers, continuously monitoring network slice performance. The active assurance fed the NWDAF function with relevant performance metrics enabling it to predictively model future performance requirements and continuously revalidate orchestrated changes in the network – proving that the NWDAF was accurately predicting the future.

This is true telco scale in a hybrid environment delivering the best of both worlds for an all-around win. Core network capabilities can be executed on a cloud provider’s hosted edge, slice performance visibility is always available to ensure SLA delivery and edge orchestration ensures each location is delivering capacity, scale and compute as required.

Best of all, it doesn’t require expansive, widely deployed edge rollouts. Or delays in infrastructure spin-up. Operators can deliver what enterprises need, at peak performance. Right now.

This is a true differentiator. Dedicated private networks are expensive and take a long time to build. But using existing assets with the right performance assurance unlocks the full potential of this promising approach to private edge buildouts.

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Stephen Douglas
Stephen Douglas

Head of Market Strategy

Spirent is a global leader in automated test and assurance for the ICT industry and Stephen heads Spirents market strategy organization developing Spirents strategy, helping to define market positioning, future growth opportunities, and new innovative solutions. Stephen also leads Spirent’s strategic initiatives for 5G and future networks and represents Spirent on a number of Industry and Government advisory boards. With over 25 years’ experience in telecommunications Stephen has been at the cutting edge of next generation technologies and has worked across the industry with service providers, network equipment manufacturers and start-ups, helping them drive innovation and transformation.