5G SA Cloud

Is a lack of confidence (and a lot of complexity!) holding back 5G SA cloud-native core and network testing?

In the concluding piece, VIAVI will examine some of the challenges presented by the complex cloud-native 5G landscape, and how these can be addressed. Missed part one? Catch up here to learn about some of the deployment options for cloud-native 5G standalone (SA) core.

As we discussed in part one, deployments of 5G SA core networks are growing in number. Great news for end users, who’ll benefit from exciting new services and connected experiences. Great news also for service providers, who’ll be able to unlock new revenue streams.cloud button

 

However, these benefits – and the maturity of next-generation networks and services – are still a while off being realized. Before we can reach that stage there is some less-than-great news that service providers have to contend with: this new, more complex network landscape has resulted in new, more complex testing requirements.

We’ll look at how VIAVI has been supporting service providers to overcome these. First, however, we’ll reflect on market perspectives on cloud-native networks. We learnt from part one that different deployments are available – and being leveraged by some service providers – but how do those in the telco community feel about doing so, and what confidence do they have in making the next step to evolve their networks?

Market reflections and future outlook

To ensure this is customer-centric – and to get some real-life commentary on the issue – could we add some insight VIAVI has gained directly from customers? What are service providers saying to your team in terms of challenges, opportunities and their confidence in testing/deploying networks?

Last year, Dell’Oro Group released a report which revealed operator hesitancy concerning the move from 5G NSA to 5G SA. This has impacted growth in the mobile core network market, which is expected to decelerate over the next four quarters, dropping to 17% year-over-year in 2Q 2022. CSPs need to make decisions about which direction to take for 5G SA deployments. “CSPs have several options to mull over, with new choices that were not available during the switch from 3G to 4G,” commented David Bolan, research director at Dell’Oro Group, in response to the report. We provided an overview of some of these options in part one.

The exception to service provider hesitancy in APAC, where confidence seems to be greater. The APAC region made up 70% of operator spend on 5G core equipment, according to the report.

Are service providers in APAC further ahead in terms of their network testing strategies? Or simply more confident in the returns and cost savings this infrastructure will deliver? This was evidenced in recent report which found that accelerating the move to a Converged 5G Core (5GC) can reduce total cost of ownership by up to 36%. The longer the MNO delays the transition to a Converged 5GC, the higher the transition costs, the report concluded.

Confidence building through tools and partnerships

Operator confidence in the performance, reliability and returns of new network approaches is an important part of helping the 5G cloud-native core market mature. VIAVI has been enabling service providers to test their networks through every generation of connectivity, helping to accelerate innovation and speed time to market for new products and services.

We’ve also been actively involved in developing standards, allowing service providers to benchmark and validate performance, thereby helping to create a frictionless testing and deployment journey. We’ve anticipated the challenges brought about by the multiple cloud deployment options, and, as a multi-platform testing vendor, we can support all of these models.

5G SA Cloud-native Testing

We can test 5G core in the public cloud, and we even demoed the world’s first O-CU test running in AWS Outposts, showing how 5G NSA O-CU testing could be run on the AWS Outpost cloud environment. This involved using our TeraVM O-CU Tester.

TeraVM is a cloud-native test solution that can be run on all platforms suitable to network operator requirements. Whether it is 5G SA Core test, Core Emulation, O-CU test or RIC test, the test tool can be deployed and run on x86 COTS Server, public cloud (e.g. AWS, GCP, Azure), and cloud edge (e.g. AWS Outposts).

 “Verizon has had network edge products on the market for close to four years now, yet we are still uncovering delivery and management gotchas. The devil is in the details, so while it might be tempting to cut corners, it is essential to complete extensive testing to verify that your edge applications will perform as expected under production conditions.”  Beth Cohen, Cloud Product Technologist, Verizon –  referenced in a Fierce Wireless article.

Network components placed on each of the platforms can be fully tested to ensure network reliability and performance. Multiple engineers are able to test the cloud-hosted 5G core from multiple dispersed locations. This controllable and repeatable environment is open and agile enough to support new 3GPP standards as and when they’re implemented.

These tools and these approaches are helping to boost operator confidence in cloud-native networks, ensuring their reliability in good time for deployment. Partnerships and cross-industry collaboration are also important, enabling the telco industry to share resources and best practice in order to reduce the confusion and complexity of testing and validating networks.

 

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