In our previous blog, we looked at the key advancements that 5G brings, the different phases of 5G, as well as some of the challenges in implementing 5G, particularly when rolling out 5G SA with its cloud-native Core and RAN networks. In this blog, we look at the solution to managing and overcoming these challenges and the many benefits this solution provides.
5G rollout is no longer a question of if but when. That is where assurance comes into play. A critical cornerstone of a successful transition to 5G is deploying an automated assurance solution that collects and correlates data from multiple sources from the RAN to the Core, that fully supports monitoring 4G and 5G, and is entirely cloud-native. With this assurance solution in place the operator has network-wide visibility into the 5G network as it is deployed. The operator can validate equipment deployed in the network, ensure service quality, and monitor the real-life customer experience.
Figure 1 – Assurance supporting 4G and 5G in the same unified solution
Having assurance implemented from day one means that operators can assure the entire 5G lifecycle from lab to commercial launch with an independent, network vendor agnostic auditor that is not tied to specific hardware to validate the network performance and ensure service quality.
Assurance value begins at the lab/pre-launch stage through the full commercial launch and continues during the ongoing network lifecycle and service deployment:
- Lab – From RAN, Core, interoperability, and E2E testing to multi-vendor E2E validation
- Limited Launch – From network performance KPIs to troubleshooting workflows
- Soft Launch – From testing all onboarding of new subscribers, user experience verification, VIP user monitoring (C-Level manager, journalists, etc.) to identifying Customer Experience Index (CEI) impacting issues
- Full Commercial Launch – From executive dashboards, user experience KQIs (video streaming, etc.), and subscriber journey validation to automated AI/ML-driven anomaly detection and Predictive Analytics
- NWDAF for automated closed-loop network assurance and optimization
Figure 2 – Entire 5G network lifecycle assurance from lab to commercial launch
As the operator moves forward in their transition, the same assurance solution must offer AI/ML-based insights to keep pace with all the moving parts and deliver automated network insights after the commercial launch as more traffic is generated and users join the network. Automated assurance provides operators with a comprehensive solution that ranges from KPIs, session and packet analysis with drill-down workflows. AI/ML-based insights that include automated anomaly detection and predictive analytics allow operators to automatically help engineers improve network performance and deliver great experiences to customers.
An automated assurance solution needs to be vendor-agnostic and open, so it can integrate with all 5G Core and RAN vendors while working with all known mirroring and tapping solutions.
With vast amounts of data flying through networks and billions of devices being connected, knowing what is going on is crucial for operators to ensure a smooth customer experience. Whether it is keeping track of anomalous behavior, connections not working correctly, or looking to understand real-time trends in individual slices of your networks, having a cloud-native solution is critical. Today, AI/ML automated solutions can help solve these issues.
It is essential for operators transitioning to 5G to deploy cloud-native assurance solutions, gain visibility into these virtualized networks, and in the long-term, enable automation and take a closed-loop approach to network operations. Being fully containerized means that RADCOM ACE is also cloud-agnostic and can be deployed in private, public, and hybrid cloud environments. As operators roll out more advanced 5G services, this need for assurance will become even more apparent. For example, when dealing with network slicing, multiple virtual slices will co-exist on the same network, and operators will need to know precisely what is happening inside each virtual network to deliver on the committed SLAs. When dealing with vast amounts of data, it is simply not possible to manage it manually. So that leaves the question, what can be done?
RADCOM ACE is built to tackle these challenges and helps operators maintain a high quality of service for their customers. When looking for end-to-end assurance and an anomaly detection solution, RADCOM ACE provides operators with analytic capabilities and automated root-cause anomaly detection, which lets the operator know what needs fixing and provides a resolution before subscribers’ SLAs are affected, essentially providing a closed-loop automated assurance solution.
Benefits of automated assurance:
- Enables you to smartly monitor the journey from 4G to 5G across the entire network lifecycle from lab to full commercial launch
- Samples and filters traffic to smartly and efficiently manage and load balance massive traffic volumes across multiple clouds
- Automates the resolution of network degradation with AI/ML-driven anomaly detection using a closed-loop approach to assurance
- Delivers real-time subscriber analytics so you can understand the customer experience and utilize E2E troubleshooting to ensure service quality
- Provides insights into control and user plane traffic to monitor the entire customer experience from 5G connectivity to video streaming quality
- Extends network visibility to multiple use cases from 5G subscriber onboarding, working from home (for video call quality), Fixed Wireless Access (FWA), to VoNR
- Offers real network efficiency and improvements such as ~30% more efficient 5G SA deployment by proactively assuring the network
- A field-proven solution for 4G and 5G SA with successful deployments in Tier 1 operators like AT&T, DISH, Rakuten Mobile, and Telefónica
NWDAF for Closed-Loop Automation
Network Data Analytics Function (NWDAF) is a new Network Function (NF) introduced as part of the 3GPP standards for the 5G Core (5GC). It’s a network analytics capability built into the general framework of the network architecture for enabling closed-loop use cases that automatically detect, predict and resolve network issues as well as improve network optimization.
NWDAF introduces a new level of intelligence to the 5G network by combining end-to-end analytics, AI, and its seamless integration into the Operations, Administration, and Management (OAM) function to automate network operations. This closed-loop automation is essential for guaranteeing QoS and QoE while ensuring network performance, resource management, and operational savings.
Figure 3 – Closed-loop automation using NWDAF
NWDAF acts as the conductor that ensures that all services and network functions work in unison to deliver a quality experience to the subscriber. In addition, with auto-discovery functions built-in to RADCOM NWDAF, new network functions and services can be tested and monitored as they roll out.
For more information on NWDAF and its applicable use cases, please click here.
It is essential for operators transitioning to 5G to deploy cloud-native automated assurance solutions, in order to gain visibility into multiple cloud networks from the RAN to the Core, and gain insights that enable automation, so that operators can transition to a closed-loop approach to network operations.
RADCOM can provide the following NWDAF options to operators:
- A 3GPP-defined NWDAF that includes standard APIs and network interfaces. This option covers all the use cases defined in Rel. 15, 16, and 17.
- An extended NWDAF solution beyond the standards that includes additional interfaces for closing the loop and optional probe data ingestion. This option adds proprietary use cases in addition to the 3GPP-defined ones.
By including probe-based data as part of their assurance deployment, operators gain real-time subscriber analytics that provides an understanding of their customers’ real-life experience of the network, as well as advanced troubleshooting and optimization capabilities that are vital when deploying new network technologies. Furthermore, when deploying assurance at the beginning of the 5G transition, the operator can ensure a smooth network rollout and smartly monitor the entire network lifecycle from lab to commercial launch, ensuring service quality and delivering great 5G customer experiences from day one.
Looking to learn more about transitioning from 4G to 5G? Click here to download our transition and solution brochure today.
The article is subject to RADCOM’s disclaimers regarding Forward-looking statements and general information under the links below: