None of us will forget 2020 – the year that time seemed to simultaneously fly and stand still as we all worked through new realities.
Reflecting on such a crazy year, you wouldn’t know the breadth of the challenges telecom faced by stepping back and looking at the leaps 5G made these past 12 months. As 2020 came to a close, the push around mobile’s next-gen tech proved to not just overcome new realities but thrive on them. This is not surprising given the proven vigor of this industry, but still impressive nonetheless.
As a new year begins, once again, Spirent has captured the year’s highlights, trends driving activity and predictions for the road ahead in. Last year, our first iteration of this report went on to become far and away our most popular download. We are excited to share our latest insights spanning our company’s business across the globe.
Insights from more than 600 5G deals
Just last year, in our inaugural 5G report , we detailed Spirent’s significant testing work for the networks that would support 5G. Initial Non-Standalone (NSA) deployments launched, but performance was mixed and consumer adoption slow. These proved not to be missteps but learning moments. Lessons that made it clear that the path to 5G Standalone had to be accelerated. For all of the challenges 2020 posed, telecom was able to do just that. Now, 600 5G deals later, Spirent is proud to share the latest insights from our work in ourreport.
Key developments coming out of 2020 and explored in the new report include:
Spirent’s work with operators during the year increased 50%. After so much time spent getting ready for 5G launches, networks began to roll out en masse, all around the world. This resulted in a sustained surge in pre- and post-launch testing, from the lab to the field, that we expect to continue well into 2021 and beyond.
5G Standalone was fast-tracked, but with training wheels. The volume of 5G core testing we conducted indicates a continued rush to 5G SA, especially in North America and Asia. These networks are launching alongside NSA networks but we expect limited access until operators grow more comfortable managing and operating them. The cautious start is not unexpected, but the fact that some operators are already moving traffic onto SA so soon since 3GPP standards were published is notable.
Testing-as-a-Service (TaaS) accelerated and is here to stay. A perfect storm of market pressures to accelerate 5G rollouts, overwhelming complexity with multi-vendor environments, software-based networks and resource limitations saw operators turning over 5G testing needs to the experts and trusted partners. This is freeing them to focus on service creation and deployments. Automation is a key aspect of this work, with Spirent striking several significant deals on this front during 2020. We anticipate TaaS interest to continue growing throughout 2021 and beyond.
Military 5G spending on the rise. Western governments are pouring significant sums into 5G tech in support of future defense modernization. Spirent is already engaged in a series of extensive testing initiatives, including some aimed at optimizing spectrum for shared commercial and military uses. In particular, Spirent’s 5G digital twin technology is among the critical testing solutions being used to determine how to broaden defense capabilities and deliver secure tactical or “survivable” communications.
Open RAN could become telecom’s low-cost, vendor-neutral future. We are in the early stages but OpenRAN is already being vetted as an efficient architecture to support 2G, 3G and 4G deployments. At this pace, with increasing industry commitment, it’s quite realistic to anticipate extending this success to 5G over the next 12-18 months. Eventually, Open RAN could become a safe approach for private networks or a foundation for novel Network-as-a-Service plays. The use cases are expansive and we see considerable runway for this technology as deep testing work to determine how the dream of interoperability will translate to the real world begins.
And all of the above is really just the tip of the iceberg. Spirent’s latest report dives into current market drivers, challenges, pitfalls, emerging trends, predictions and a view of the road ahead. This includes key findings from across our work in device, cloud, transport and service testing, as well as assurance and automation.
and stay tuned here throughout the year as we dive deeper into key findings from the report and share fresh perspectives from 5G’s frontlines.