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Next generation performance for xHaul mobile network expansion and 5G small cells

Why a compact footprint matters for mobile network performance monitoring for mobile backhaul, fronthaul and dynamic 5G end-to-end service assurance

The fast-growing bandwidth demand of consumers and the pressure of 5G network rollouts means reusing and sharing existing network resources often provide a faster time to market. It’s also less disruptive economically and operationally than deploying a completely new network for many use cases. (Read our “Upgrading your network to 5G can be a costly business” blog)

A new breed of service design and performance assurance tools is needed to help achieve this and also to support the rollout of 5G small cells. These performance devices need to have a small footprint while providing increased bandwidth density, and fit in existing infrastructure when possible. Of course they also need to be scalable, flexible, quick to deploy, and support a wide range of services and applications.

In many cases, the available space is either very small and/or already filled with equipment. Unless this new device has the same form factor as the unit it is replacing, or simply has no footprint at all, like a Smart SFP or software agent, it will be difficult for the operator to upgrade that part of the network. Ideally, a software-only solution would be optimal in such cases. However, in reality, the virtualized network infrastructure needed to support software-only agents needs to be in place first, which is not the case in many parts of mobile networks today.

Small-footprint 10G performance devices ideal for 5G xHaul assurance

Mobile network operators today are swapping out older generation lower capacity devices for higher bandwidth devices in order to meet the increased bandwidth demands of their customers. 10 Gigabit per second-capable units are the preferred choice today as their price point is quite attractive. However, 10 Gbps devices are often much larger than the typical small form factor 1 Gbps devices, so they cannot be easily swapped out without minimal disruption to existing operations. 

An ideal replacement device would have the same small footprint as the 1 Gbps device it is replacing, with operators gaining 10-times the bandwidth for the same fibre plant. Another solution would be to use a zero-footprint device, like a smart SFP, which could demarc and monitor a new service at a cell site when there is no room or power to deploy any additional equipment. 

There’s no end to bandwidth demand in sight. Operators will face similar challenges when they upgrade to 25 Gbps or even 100 Gbps as connectivity needs continue to grow.

Re-using existing facilities (huts, cell sites, lamp posts, etc.) also helps avoid the costs, time, and sometimes the frustration, associated with getting city permits to install new 5G infrastructure. By following such strategies, operators often achieve a faster time to market, with less disruption to their existing operations. 

5G small cell sites need to be monitored with small-footprint devices with high-bandwidth density

Performance needs to be considered upfront when launching 5G services

However, this next generation equipment needs to be ready to not only support the growing bandwidth requirements but also support the requirements for new 5G services—in particular stringent requirements related to performance (i.e. latency and jitter) and synchronization. They also need the ability to support, manage and monitor new services and applications, such as network slices, logical network instances, and service chains comprised of microservices that are composed and instantiated at the service design phase. 

Performance assurance needs to be considered a key component of the 5G service design phase in order to provide the necessary precise, granular performance metrics regardless of the number of services being delivered. Existing solutions often do not scale or the performance degrades once they hit a small threshold. Ensuring 5G mobile service quality meets customer expectations needs to be an integral part of service creation and not an afterthought.

Operators will also need new small or even zero-footprint devices to deploy services in such space-constrained environments. In many cases, they will not have the luxury of deploying overlay tools to simply monitor these services since space comes at such a high premium.  

Combining service monitoring and assurance capabilities with these new small service management-capable devices would definitely help operators achieve their network growth goals at a fraction of the costs.  

How can you get some assistance in this evolution journey? Well Accedian, for one, are happy to assist in any way we can. Contact us here to let us know how we can help. And, more importantly, stay tuned for an announcement of new innovation coming soon!