Jumpstarting connectivity innovation with limitless next-gen network testbeds
All eyes are on the 5G networks being turned up around the world. Promises of innovation are quite literally “in the air” as early testing shows these powerful networks are capable of accomplishing wireless feats previously only dreamed about. But to be sure, today, these networks are still delicate. They’re not yet being used by the masses, nor have they been tuned for uber-optimization. And they are relatively few and far between. In other words, they’re hardly ideal for complex, comprehensive testing of the types of innovations we may expect to see four or five years down the line.
No, for that, you’ve got to head to some of the world’s foremost technology research and academic institutions, where industries ranging from automotive to manufacturing are conducting deep explorations into how 5G will impact future efforts. This includes development of commercial projects and intellectual property.
At the heart of this work is 5G Digital Twin technology that essentially emulates a real, live, breathing mobile network with one major advantage – anything goes.
Think of it as a giant 5G sandbox enabling network-in-the-loop (NIL) testing.
Virtually fast-forwarding to a time when 5G will be ubiquitous
Spirent’s customers in the industrial, automotive and smart manufacturing industries are keen to understand how they can benefit from 5G. But it can be hard to create and test business cases without access to an actual 5G network. After all, connectivity-based advancements take time. Not many months, but many years. When disruption is on the line, industries need to be able to test today in environments that look like the future.
Using advanced emulation techniques, a software replica of a 5G environment—a 5G Digital Twin—can be created in the lab without needing to jump through networkaccess, spectrum or license hoops. Put simply, the Digital Twin enables simple, repeatable and predictable prototyping and what-if scenarios in stable environments.
More research and academic institutions are seeing the ability to provide such an environment as a substantial opportunity. Being at the cutting edge of 5G innovation brings prestige, attracts students and can be a source of new funding.
Establishing leadership in 5G research
The Digital Twin, innovative test methodologies, and the learned knowledge that go with it can be beneficial for universities, helping them:
Establish leadership in 5G research and teaching;
Streamline research in the university setting;
Build financial sustainability through public sector funding and investment;
Attract world-class private sector innovation partners; and
Develop commercial opportunities through joint innovation and intellectual property development.
The potential of 5G lies in its ability to create interconnected, communications ecosystems that are defined and shaped through focused innovation.
Recognizing the vast enormity of this opportunity, it’s no secret that universities around the world are moving fast to secure a pivotal and profitable role in developing and applying the new technology. They are collaborating with the industry to build a 5G network testbed and controllable prototyping environment.
Examples include the University of Surrey, which operates a 5G Innovation Center that aims to study and provide context about users, services, networks and devices for next-generation services such as broadband, mobile and IoT. At the University of Warwick, a 5G Digital Twin is being deployed to simulate the automotive or factory environment, with Spirent emulating the 5G network. In our next post, we’ll explore the exhaustive testing of automotive 5G use cases being done at the University of Warwick.
Why work with Spirent?
Spirent is an industry leader in test and service assurance, driving innovation and standards for the communications industry. We can support research and academic institutions’ 5G ambitions with technology and solutions that range from 5G Digital Twin, to an array of emulators, signal generators and test systems for devices, channels, and network equipment. Spirent’s 5G Digital Twin emulation solutions are already helping turn university testbeds into realistic and flexible 5G network testing environments that automotive and industry partners can use to cost-effectively research and innovate.
For more information on 5G Digital Twin and its application to university 5G research projects, download our white paper: Accelerating 5G Innovation with Universities