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Five Superpowers Active Assurance Grants to Network Operators

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Five superpowers active assurance grants to network operators

Active Assurance in network testing echoes the power of 'prescience' popularized in the widely admired novel and film, "Dune." This testing approach leverages the ability to learn from the past, provide a constant source of truth, be omnipresent, change quickly, and better manage the customer experience.

In Frank Herbert’s "Dune," the power of prescience is used to see into the past, present, and future. It's not a new idea and originates from the early 12th century English language, meaning an act of knowing something in advance – a foreknowledge.

Modern 5G networks powered by automation and AI demand similar foresight.

With active assurance, a crystal ball isn’t required to prevent foreseen issues that will impact service. Instead, historical insights and proactive testing are combined to help predict and fix faults, effectively granting five operational “superpowers” to operators. These include the ability to learn from the past, provide a constant source of truth, be omnipresent, change quickly, and better manage the customer experience.

Let’s dive into each and why they are important.

1) Learning from the past

We’ve all sat in meetings following an outage or failure and vowed not to let history repeat itself.

But faults come in all shapes and sizes. Maybe a mistake was made. Perhaps someone should have seen it coming but just missed the warning signs. Or the issue was a needle in a haystack and nearly impossible to detect.

In each of these cases, prescience in the form of active assurance could have saved the day by turning historical learnings into proactive tests to provide a foreknowledge of faults and issues so they can be resolved before they impact customers and services. Its impact is already being proven in public and private network deployments and is becoming the bedrock of leading 5G Standalone (SA) network upgrades.

2) Providing a continuous source of truth

Despite hardened telecom processes, largescale outages remain common occurrences globally. With active assurance, they may finally become a relic of the past.

By realistically emulating users and traffic and proactively injecting it throughout the network, active assurance can capture real feedback on performance, quality, and experiences. In complex 5G SA and 5G Advanced networks, this is the only way operators can be sure the network is performing and capable of supporting future services.

Continuously testing the present and future while using past learnings prevents old faults from creeping back in while also providing an understanding of the network’s capabilities. In this way, active assurance provides a continuous source of truth with regards to the network’s actual state. It fosters confidence that an unforeseen issue won’t crop up from seemingly out of nowhere.

3) Being everywhere, efficiently

For active assurance to be effective, it needs to appear to be everywhere in the network at once – without the footprint, maintenance requirements, and associated costs of a static physical location.

This is possible with open compute, which allows tests to be spun up anywhere inside or outside of the network. Test paths and locations can be pre-planned, on-demand, or intelligently orchestrated to achieve omnipresence, offering end-to-end visibility with granularity down to specific users, nodes, and links.

Tests can even be activated from devices like smartphones, CPEs, edge computing locations, and the cloud to provide comprehensive visibility, from Over-the-Air (OTA) transmission to end-point services. This aids the ability to rapidly seek and isolate fault locations, dynamically segmenting transmission pathways to home in on target fault locations. Then, further testing can conduct root cause analysis and confirm the effectiveness of resolutions like alternative routing paths, maintenance patch validation, and configuration change efficacy.

Modern network security measures may impair passive monitoring due to the increased level of encryption on the network. This challenges its ability to identify how a specific application’s traffic is impacting network performance and quality. Active tests can emulate real application traffic, including encrypted traffic, to provide visibility and behavioral analysis without requiring intrusive, time-consuming, and expensive methods.

4) Instilling the confidence to change quickly

Today’s mobile networks are defined by continuous change, especially as the speed and volume of software releases increases, and software-defined networking (SDN) introduces dynamic configuration changes.

While change processes have been historically slow, an eagerness to be agile and efficient has accelerated timetables. Considering most outages are associated with configuration changes or upgrades, the need to move fast exacerbates outage risks by leaving little time or room for error.

Active assurance testing can be run before, during, or after a change to safely introduce dynamism into change management, providing unique visibility into efficacy and performance. This unlocks pre-live and post-live validation at scale, giving operations teams or orchestrators an opportunity to remediate issues or immediately do a rollback. By running active tests prior to the change, teams gain a prescience-like “memory” of the optimal state, enabling rapid revalidation.

5) Rapid actionable insights for better customer experiences

Similar to the prescience used in "Dune," active test provides unique user metrics that allow operators to continuously “perceive” what customers are experiencing on the network. In competitive markets, the ability to measure a positive experience can help operators keep pace with expectations and even exceed them. Suddenly, QoS (Quality of Service) and QoE (Quality of Experience) become monetizable 5G differentiators.

Actionable prescient insights help operators proactively manage networks to maintain the customer experience, meet SLA requirements, and upsell additional capabilities and services.

Active Assurance in the Network

Active Assurance in the Network

Meet the future, see the possibilities

While Herbert envisioned prescience as a futuristic superpower in "Dune," you don’t have to visit the cinema or get lost in a book to see it in action.

Top 5G operators globally are already using active assurance to gain a competitive edge in 5G Non-standalone (NSA) and SA networks, achieving 75% faster issue resolutions, 90% faster change validation, and 40% faster delivery of new networks and services.

To learn more about Active Assurance and Spirent's market-leading VisionWorks solution. Read our eBook: 5G Active Assurance: Embracing a New Perspective

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Stephen Douglas
Stephen Douglas

市場戦略統括

Spirent is a global leader in automated test and assurance for the ICT industry and Stephen heads Spirents market strategy organization developing Spirents strategy, helping to define market positioning, future growth opportunities, and new innovative solutions. Stephen also leads Spirent’s strategic initiatives for 5G and future networks and represents Spirent on a number of Industry and Government advisory boards. With over 25 years’ experience in telecommunications Stephen has been at the cutting edge of next generation technologies and has worked across the industry with service providers, network equipment manufacturers and start-ups, helping them drive innovation and transformation.