At the end of 2021, Spirent estimated there were 700 million 5G subscriptions across more than 70 countries worldwide. Analysts predict that by the end of 2026, the total worldwide 5G service market will exceed $249B USD. 5G has clearly arrived and the focus is shifting from setting up the new networks to enabling new revenues.
The costs involved in bringing 5G to the market are immense and basic 5G service revenues may not be enough to justify this massive investment, hence, 5G service providers are targeting the following strategies to bridge the gap:
Cost savings: Leveraging the cloud and automation provides significant potential for 5G players to reduce costs.
Increased agility: Service providers and vendors can improve ecosystem collaboration to bring new technology to market much faster, accelerating the time to new revenue.
New revenue: 5G service providers seek advanced use cases to bring additional revenue streams.
Recognizing the challenges of successful 5G adoption
Achieving these objectives and delivering on the promise of 5G is no simple task. Service providers (SPs), network equipment manufacturers (NEMs), cloud service providers (CSPs) and device manufacturers all face different challenges in achieving the optimal advantage of 5G.
Engineering teams are working out the kinks of their new networks, and striving to move fast to safely bring up new sites, services, and networks.
Operation teams must ensure performance and quality and find and fix faults as quickly as possible in a new a multi-vendor cloudified network, creating many new challenges.
Enterprise teams must find new revenue streams such as private networks offering SLA-based differentiated performance, and pioneer new use cases.
Network Equipment Manufacturers:
3GPP standards conformance impacts scheduling cycles, where it takes 12 to 18 months from standards being frozen to initial network availability.
New ecosystem adaptation presents new challenges where NEMs must now coexist with other NEMs and shared infrastructure environments.
CI/CD alignment requires weekly and even daily cadences of releases which demands an entirely new way of working.
Cloud Service Providers:
Cloudifying the core network and RAN are top requirements involving a disaggregated multi-vendor core network and RAN.
Building out edge and private networks, moves compute functions closer to where work is conducted for performant public and private edge-hosting platforms.
Adaptation to an unfamiliar telco world involves workflows and systems for network operations, service assurance and business management that are new demands.
A myriad of vendors and form factors, with over 800 form factors from more than 180 device vendors, must all be performant and interoperable.
Introducing new functionality such as positioning accuracy, voice over new radio (VoNR), UHD video, and more, must all be accounted for.
And there’s a growing 5G ecosystem
Vendor diversification is being fostered through the introduction of the new 5G core. Developed on a service-based architecture and cloud-native design approach, the new 5G core is no longer a single-vendor solution. It’s now open, hosted in the cloud, disaggregated, and built to support rapid vendor diversification, to be run privately by enterprises or large cloud vendors, to easily ramp up new models, such as private edge clouds or converged 5G and Wi-Fi networks.
The new 5G core is no longer a single-vendor solution.
This combination of different challenges, strategies, and new vendors requires a transformation of test and assurance from a once-and-done strategy to an always on enabler, ensuring new savings and efficiencies, while unlocking new revenues.
Three key characteristics of a successful 5G testing strategy
As leaders in 5G testing across the 5G ecosystem, we have shared with our customers our testing strategy centered on three concepts which represent a new approach to testing and assurance.
Be agile and recognize we live in a complex, multi-vendor, CI/CD world where release cycles have shifted from years or months to weeks or days. The market must shift to agile testing, which is automated testing and part of the CI/CD innovation pipeline.
Be comprehensive to address the fact that 5G is complex and evolving quickly. No single ecosystem player can understand every aspect of 5G, making effective testing difficult. Vendor-neutral testing tools, services, and partners are needed to provide comprehensive 5G testing across the lifecycle and ecosystem.
Be continuous to account for the complex and dynamic nature of 5G networks and their hybrid implementation, which requires constant proactive visibility of operational performance and validation of its efficacy. This means testing never stops. Instead, it dynamically adapts to the business process.
In addition, Spirent has a set of proven 5G testing best practices that account for the transition from the physical old world of 4G environments to the new cloud-centric environment which affirm that a new world of test and assurance is necessary.
5G customer use cases
The challenge from here is implementing these tenets successfully. Our customers have done so. From Rakuten Mobile, DISH, Telefonica and many more, we are proud to support our customer’s success in making their 5G solutions work as planned for their customers, delivering faster times to market, reducing capital and operational costs, and driving new revenue streams.
To learn more about our 5G testing best practices, our customer case studies and much more about the state of 5G testing, read the eBook 5G Testing for the Race to Revenue.