It’s New Year’s Eve, the clock strikes midnight. You try making a VoLTE call to your friend to wish them well, but the call fails. WhatsApp is down, and your message doesn’t go through. At the very least networks should be able to handle 4G demands; the alternative is having to handle subscriber complaints and potential churn. Many vendors, however, have already shifted their focus to 5G network testing. This is understandable: in the near future, this NYE scenario will also include millions of IoT sensors in things like smart cars, medical devices and power plants. Guaranteeing reliable network performance will become mission-critical.

Displaying peak 5G Traffic

But don’t forget: 3GPP’s Release 15 has dictated that initial 5G networks and devices will be supported by current 4G infrastructure. As such, operators must be able to evaluate the impact on infrastructure of current 4G and 4.5G services, as well as ensuring they can meet strict KPIs and service level agreements for new 5G applications such as autonomous driving.

Don’t lose sight of 4G testing

How can operators guarantee their networks continue to function as they should? Delaying network validation until 5G architectures have been evolved will mean delaying the monetisation of services, while adopting multiple 4G-dedicated and 5G-dedicated Test & Measurement solutions from different vendors will mean significant and unwise financial investments.

To address this challenge, VIAVI has never lost sight of the importance of 4G network testing. The journey to 5G is complex and resource intensive. To ease this move and expedite 5G roadmaps, we’ve been enabling simultaneous 4G, 4.5G and 5G network testing and validation.

Maximise the value of your assets

Operators can maximise the value of their existing infrastructure, using T&M solutions to optimise end-to-end performance, manage complex deployment scenarios and generate realistic traffic at massive scale. They must be able to validate the performance of networks and ensure they’re capable of supporting the ever-increasing capacity demands of consumer and business applications.

4G and 5G load balancing must be tested, for example, to guarantee 5G devices can fall back to 4G to support voice services if there’s no 5G cell, and vice versa.

Operators should be looking to enhance service quality and reduce problem resolution time by testing network with real data services and using complex traffic models.

Testing 4G and 5G interactions simultaneously

As non-standalone 5G will combine multiple radio access technologies, operators must be able to ensure that KPIs for 4G can still be met, and user experience and network functions are not compromised. VIAVI can support the testing of numerous scenarios to validate interactions between 5G and 4G equipment with features such as Carrier Aggregation and multi-user MIMO.

As the New Year’s Eve example demonstrates, delivering reliable connectivity to support the current requirements of 4G devices and their owners remains an ongoing process. As operators continue to roll out new 4G services, they must be confident that any issues are dealt with before they impact the subscriber.

The VIAVI approach

VIAVI’s TM500 network test platform delivers 5G first while continuing to support the latest 4.5G specs. Imagine the hundreds of thousands of VoLTE calls and video messages sent over New Year’s Eve, plus millions of end-user devices and sensors that will power the IoT. Emulating these applications in a lab environment will help prepare networks now, to avoid subscriber complaints – and mission-critical application failures – for many future New Year’s Eves to come.

Whether its avoiding complaints from disgruntled subscribers, or guaranteeing the safety of autonomous vehicles – testing the interactions between 4G and 5G is crucial for the successful roll-out of new services, and for monetising and optimising networks for the long-term.

Find out more about functional, performance and capacity testing with the TM500.

Additional resources: 5G Testing and 5G Deployment.

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