LOS ANGELES—Test & measurement company Spirent Communications announced that a Tier 1 U.S. mobile operator will use its VisionWorks for testing end-to-end performance of its Non-Standalone (NSA) 5G network. The company did not name the operator.
The deployment already is underway in more than two dozen 5G markets, with hundreds more planned over time. Support for the Standalone (SA) version of 5G will come next year.
According to Spirent, the deployment represents a major shift in strategy for next-gen networks in that operators in the past have waited until issues started to crop up before incorporating what’s known as assurance tech. Now, it’s being built in from the start—which isn’t too surprising given the stakes and added complexity in 5G.
“With 5G, the stakes are higher than ever for operators to deliver differentiated experiences and guaranteed quality for a range of customers and applications, from connected vehicles to IoT sensors and beyond,” said Doug Roberts, general manager of Lifecycle Service Assurance at Spirent, in a press release. “For the first time, we’re seeing operators deploy service assurance alongside the earliest stages of their next-gen network rollouts. Our customers have recognized that delivering on early performance expectations is absolutely paramount to the development of sustainable 5G revenue streams.”
Many U.S. operators are first deploying NSA—which uses LTE as an anchor—and then moving to SA. According to Spirent, as operators evolve from LTE to NSA and eventually Standalone 5G, the new network slicing capabilities create new challenges for how quality is assured. Operators are also challenged with 5G’s comparatively compressed rollout timelines and the amount of new technologies and standards they need to track and implement.
VisionWorks performs active testing from outside the network and inside the network all the way to the core, while monitoring end-to-end services, according to Spirent. In the deployment announced today, VisionWorks initially will be used to isolate the root causes of performance issues, such as low data throughput and high latency, paving the way for new high-performance services via network slicing.
Of course, Spirent will be demonstrating the VisionWorks platform this week at Mobile World Congress Los Angeles, so attendees can see for themselves how it works.