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Achieving Seamless 5G Deployment

Achieving Seamless 5G Deployment


Gaurav Mohan, VP, SAARC & Middle East, NETSCOUT highlights that mobile operators in the region has to face several challenges while achieving seamless 5G deployment

According to the latest data from telecommunications market research company, TeleGeography, as of March 2023, 18 countries in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region are served by commercial 5G services. Saudi Arabia has the most 5G users in MEA, with over 11.2 million subscriptions and the UAE has 3.5 million subscriptions as of the end of 2022. This is equivalent to more than a quarter of the total mobile sector. 5G uses both ultra-fast millimetre waves, but at a very limited range, as well as lower frequency bands at high range (4G LTE), or even medium frequencies.

Service providers are using 5G capabilities to innovate across low-latency services and edge compute, enabling enterprises to use 5G to transform their business processes. The global 5G services market size was valued at $41.48 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth (CAGR) of 46.2 percent from 2021 to 2028. Communications service providers (CSPs) have an opportunity to accelerate return on investment (ROI) on their 5G infrastructure deployments, creating new service value from core network assets and positioning their businesses to strongly compete against over-the top (OTT) providers and tech giants that have drained business—and revenues—away from telcos for years.

However, mobile operators face several challenges in deploying 5G. Similar to how 4G frequently transitioned to 3G during its deployment, 5G operators may need to transfer traffic in the event of a lack of coverage or a local connectivity issue in order to maintain service continuity.

A user of a mobile device will have no difficulty utilizing an operator’s 5G in a 5G-capable area but will occasionally need to switch to 4G LTE if they move around, particularly in underground parking garages. Despite these challenges, communications service providers (CSPs) continue to invest in 5G technology, and one of the fundamental concerns at this time is whether a device offers an experience compatible with the quality of this mobile network.

Challenges with Deploying 5G
There are several reasons why 5G has not yet taken off, including a shortage of compatible chips and sensors as a result of the pandemic as well as a challenging macroeconomic environment. CSPs recognize that the migration to a standalone 5G core network in the cloud is unlikely to happen as rapidly as anticipated. This delay will necessitate continued reliance on 4G LTE service, which may result in disruptions.

The transition between 5G and 4G cells is characterized by network slowdowns and degradations. Additionally, these incidents occurred on alternating 3G and 4G connections. Similar compatibility gaps exist between VoLTE (service that enhances the quality of voice calls over 4G) and VoNT (5G equivalent) technologies. Maintaining uninterrupted voice communications as mobile users transfer between mobile networks remains a challenge during the current phase of transition.

Until the development of 5G SA coverage, many CSPs rely on the 4G LTE network infrastructure to deliver some 5G capabilities. By concentrating their efforts on the continued deployment of 5G SA and RAN (using radio access technology), they will be able to increase coverage areas and network speeds, as well as implement the newest technologies, including private 5G and multi-access edge computing (MEC).

Why Service Providers Must Prioritize Visibility
Numerous communications service providers are already preparing to adopt 5G and migrate their networks to the cloud to provide autonomous network capabilities. To achieve this, they must be able to determine where and when disruptions caused by the transition to 4G are occurring, as well as how their customers’ experiences and device functionality are affected. To capitalize on 5G, CSPs need consistent, high fidelity, real-time visibility across all layers of the network, including both physical and virtualized domains. To support 5G, networks must be monitored as they are deployed and on an ongoing basis, not as an afterthought. Mobile operators anticipate that cloud-based 5G SA will facilitate applications such as automated supply chain management and improved remote medical care. The commercial viability of 5G relies heavily on these use cases and many others to come.

Consequently, communications service providers will have to invest in tools that can identify coverage and performance issues and provide comprehensive visibility. These will also aid mobile operators in accelerating their own 5G deployments and enhancing the overall consumer experience.

Overall, holistic visibility is the key to achieving reliability for 5G networks—and ultimately is key to gaining profitability for technological innovations made possible by 5G’s dramatically faster connectivity. Such visibility into wireless networks can give CSPs the insights they need to optimize network performance and effectively monetize emerging technologies.



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