Commercial 5G is not just transforming communications products, businesses, and operating models. It’s also redefining how providers deploy high-speed applications and services. In this new, dynamic era of complex ecosystems and high expectations, delivering flawless digital experiences to users and devices is harder – and more crucial – than ever. Poor performers risk losing momentum, innovation, market opportunity, customers, and revenue.
In this post, we’ll look at:
- The big challenges facing telco teams readying and rolling out 5G services and apps.
- What you need today to deliver great 5G experiences for mobile, Web, and IoT.
- The pivotal role of intelligent, unified testing, monitoring and analytics in ensuring Quality of Experience (QoE) and Quality of Service (QoS) at every stage of 5G, from development to deployment.
The Challenges Managing 5G
After much expectation and planning, growing numbers of telecom teams around the globe are working furiously to build out commercially ready 5G networks and related offerings.
- 61 operators have launched 5G services
- Global 5G spending is set to skyrocket, from $31 billion (U.S.) in 2020 to $11 trillion in 2026.
- Revenue from 5G applications and services is forecast to rise $132 billion in 2020 to $663 billion by 2027
Providers and customers are understandably eager. Across industries, domains and disciplines, 5G connected experiences promise orders-of-magnitude improvements in capacity, throughput, and latency. 5G doesn’t just make existing apps and services faster, but enables entirely new uses: smart cities, IoT, AI, autonomous vehicles, AR/VR, streaming, connected health and energy, and much more.
However, to make the benefits real, teams tasked with building and deploying 5G services and applications must master several substantial demands.
- Managing 5G Infrastructure Readiness
Every provider understands that investing in infrastructure is a must for winning with 5G. Yet, even the best-funded must carefully target spending and build-outs. Making the right choices, and knowing how to capitalize on them, is key.
5G demands much higher capacity as well as enhanced functionality to fulfill the technology’s promises. Therefore, teams deploying infrastructure and features face conflicting constraints as they work to provide orders-of-magnitude higher capacity, at a fraction of the power and per-bit cost. Where and how should you deploy small cells, mini and MIMO base stations, towers, SDNs, NFVs and a myriad of other building blocks of fast, low-latency, high bandwidth service?
While much attention rightly focuses on the network, teams must also ensure readiness for the burgeoning variety of 5G applications and services they will deliver. They must guarantee that applications work equally well across every location and device.
Bottom line: 5G infrastructure placement has to be optimized to deliver the performance customers expect AND the agility that providers need to pursue new models and services. Doing both without breaking the bank is complex, time-consuming – and essential.
2. Managing 5G Quality of Experience (QoE) and Quality of Service (QoS)
Today’s impatient users expect instantaneous responses, never-fail reliability, and rich, convenient and flawless experiences, every time. OTT app partners and customers are especially demanding. Whether it’s for mobile, web or IoT, customers demand quality digital interactions from the companies they work with.
- 84% of customers consider the experience a company provides as important as its products and services.
- 94% say they’re very likely to buy more from a company providing a good experience.
- 1 in 3 consumers will defect from a brand they “love” after just one bad experience.
Measuring and understanding QoE and QoS is critical towards ensuring a successful 5G rollout. (QoE considers a user’s expectation and experience; QoS is based on technical measurements.)
All this and 5G exponentially increases the burden for those responsible for maximizing QoE and QoS (determined by the combination of network, device, and application functionality and performance). Today’s networks are optimized for people using smartphones. In 5G, networks must be optimized for flawless delivery of AR/VT, automotive, Industry 4.0, real-time gaming and other new uses. Intense public, social media, management, investor and customer scrutiny mean that anything less than flawless experience is not an option.
3. Managing 5G Scale and Complexity
Telco teams today have begun the largest, most ambitious technology undertaking in history: Building out 5G networks while managing the explosion of diverse devices, applications, services, traffic and data they attract.
This massive burden will only grow, as success further increases scale.
- Mobile data traffic is set to grow more than 7X by 2023
- 25B IoT devices currently, expected to grow to 75B by 2025
- Nearly 12% of global mobile traffic will be on 5G cellular connectivity by 2022
But it’s not just sheer scale that challenges 5G builders. Compared to 4G, 5G service and apps are being launched in a far more complex technological environment, which 5G itself is elevating to new heights.
Unlike 10 or 20 years ago, a typical web interaction no longer takes place on a computer with a simple browser, on a fixed network connected to a single, static, homogenous backend. Today, the client can be a laptop, computer, smartphone, tablet, wearable, AR/VR, smart home, drone, auto or one of a myriad of consumer or industrial devices. The network might be mobile, fixed-line, or Wi-Fi. Backends now encompass legacy, on-prem, cloud, multi-cloud, microservice, automation, virtualized, or a combination. A single app on a wearable device may connect to 15 vendors through APIs.
The astronomical number of combinations and variables poses unprecedented challenges for 5G network builders, their partners and app developers responsible for optimizing QoS and QoE.
Siloed legacy tools fall short
Communications and IT environments continue to grow larger, more complex, interrelated, distributed, dynamic and diverse. A performance snag in one domain can snowball across the ecosystem. Agile, DevOps, and continuous integration/delivery further accelerate the pace of change. And new technologies, platforms, and devices continue to be rapidly introduced and must be supported. For teams tasked with deploying 5G services and applications, these new challenges are making the job exceedingly difficult.
Unfortunately, tools and approaches in place have not kept pace with rapid ecosystem change. In many telcos, testing, legacy monitoring, and analytics are employed for specific use cases and domains. While these individual tools may continue to serve a narrow purpose, they’re also creating big obstacles. Simulating actual network customer experience is all but impossible with available tools. Because they don’t have an easy way to access or understand user experience, telcos are forced to use network measures (probes, DPI, etc.) as a proxy for customer experience.
Ironically, organizations spend too much on tools and staffing, yet still lack the coverage and insights they need. So critical flaws are discovered in production, leaving the business exposed to a range of risks, including lost revenues, customer defections, and compromised experiences, innovation, and time to market.
Struggling with distinct, disjointed siloes, telco teams are contending with inefficiency and a lack of big-picture insights needed to build, track, and optimize a superior 5G digital experience.
Needed: A unified, proactive approach
Given the high stakes and scope of the challenges, telco teams can’t continue to rely on the status quo; doing the same things a little faster or a little better isn’t going to cut it. Ultimately, what’s needed is a fundamentally different approach. But what?
Today’s new realities require unified and proactive testing, monitoring, and analytics. Instead of isolated tools with limited tunnel vision, a modern holistic solution must provide big-picture visibility and management that spans the ecosystem of applications, devices, and networks.
Among the key requirements: Comprehensive, unified functional, performance, and load testing that’s fully integrated with monitoring that provides actionable insights. Intelligence gathered needs to be seamlessly integrated with advanced analytics, including artificial intelligence-powered predictive analytics. To gain maximum cost efficiency and flexibility, tools must offer enterprise-grade open-source that leverages leading automation frameworks. Finally, a modern platform should offer pragmatic implementation and flexibility, so it can adapt to fast-changing use cases, objectives, and environments.
How HeadSpin 5G Labs Can Help
HeadSpin’s integrated, comprehensive testing and monitoring helps ensure and assure infrastructure readiness and flawless connected experiences delivered by mobile, web, and IoT. Insights from HeadSpin allow you to quickly identify potential issues, investigate, and take action. HeadSpin 5G Labs features integrated troubleshooting, dashboards, and alerting capabilities. Advanced monitoring and AI-powered intelligence can automatically alert administrators to issues and impending problems, dramatically speeding resolution times.
HeadSpin 5G Labs offers telcos a variety of unparalleled benefits:
- 5G readiness across infrastructure, devices, and applications
HeadSpin helps enable successful launches build-outs for across multiple locations. Hundreds of devices can be set-up before, during, and after deployment to measure the network, device, and application functionality and performance that combine to determine QoS and QoE. With HeadSpin, you finally have the opportunity to understand and improve network performance ground-up as you deploy 5G around the world.
- Optimize 5G connected experiences — across any application and device, anywhere in the world
HeadSpin provides the actionable insights you need to quickly and efficiently detect, diagnose, and resolve issues—so you can preempt problems and significantly reduce downtime duration. Pre-production testing and monitoring helps prevent issues from making it into production. By gaining visibility across applications, devices, and networks, you can respond much faster when issues arise in production. And you can gain the holistic visibility you need to truly understand and optimize the user experience.
Our AI-powered issue detection and insights automatically tell you what’s wrong and what’s the root cause behind the issues.
With HeadSpin, telcos can measure and optimize for QoE and QoS KPIs and metrics on a continuous and real-time basis. The end-to-end solution helps you optimize your infrastructure and deployment, benchmark 5G user experience KPIs, and conduct continuous monitoring for quality and performance.
- Understand 5G network performance on the move
Today’s mobile users are constantly on the go — and they expect their network to perform equally well in all areas as they move through their day. However, real-world testing of networks and user flows in top apps has historically been extremely difficult to perform on-the-go and in rural areas
HeadSpin’s mobile physical boxes and drive testing let telcos experience their 5G network in a familiar real-world use case — while driving. Accurate geo locations, correlated video and audio feeds, and video and MOS quality scores help you to accurately identify areas in its network that offer poor user experiences for video and other apps.
- Accelerate 5G innovation
By delivering a single solution that offers the complete capabilities you need, HeadSpin 5G Labs eliminates much of the cost, effort, and complexity associated with disconnected tools and disjointed workflows. As a result, the solution can dramatically improve your team’s efficiency and productivity. Unified analytics provide insights about what optimal innovations you need, and how to deliver them with maximum speed and efficiency.
Help for a multitude of 5G Use Cases
HeadSpin’s 5G Labs Connected Intelligence Platform™ helps you with a wide variety of crucial functions before, during, and after launch:
- Ensure the quality and performance of base stations for a successful 5G rollout
- Conduct drive tests to understand 5G network performance on the move
- Ensure 5G compatibility for device and OS for pre-release mobile devices
- Test core voice services over 5G
- Tests wifi hotspots throughout your network
- Understand live streaming, VR, and video on demand (VoD) performance on 5G
- Build better in-house apps, help OTTs and other partners do the same
- Measure real-world OTT app performance on the 5G network
- Monitor and benchmark messaging apps infrastructure and performance
- Monitor roaming performance internationally
- Assess performance of API and CDN clouds
- Understand in-app advertisement performance on 5G networks
- Test 4K VR over 5G
- Test M2M applications for 5G
- Compare against competitor’s 5G
Start strong, stay strong
You can’t build a 21st century mobile network and applications with 20th-century tools. The world’s first Connected Intelligence Platform™ from HeadSpin helps providers quickly and economically deploy and optimize 5G applications, devices, and networks that deliver the flawless connected experiences that today’s partners and customers demand. Start accelerating and optimizing your 5G deployment with HeadSpin today. To learn more, try it for free here!