5G is not a single technology, in fact it is an ensemble of technologies which together herald a transformation for operators and their customers. Exactly how and when these technologies will be deployed is not always clear, however, discussions with our customers have revealed several key assertions that most agree with:
- Latency expectations underwrite the promise of 5G, best effort will not suffice!
- Distributed clouds and MEC will demand better control of network resources
- IoT will propel a massive expansion in the number of endpoints and churn will require full automation
- New 5G-based premium enterprise services require diversity, resiliency will be crucial
What’s a 5G Network Planner to do?
What does all this mean for 5G network planners? It means they need to know exactly where their current network stands today in order to plan their 5G buildouts. What is current bandwidth demand? Are we meeting SLAs on our services? Where does all our traffic really go? Where are the bottlenecks and what’s causing them?
Only with a full and accurate understanding of all your network inventory, physical fiber links, shared risk links, and service-to-fiber paths, will you be able to plan a fail-proof 5G service rollout.
A high level of automation will also be needed by planners and operators. Manual planning processes – like Excel spreadsheets or sending out technicians to verify service paths – simply aren’t going to be able to keep up with the resource allocation, path optimization, and resilience complexities of 5G service delivery. (To be honest, those methods weren’t keeping up with the needs of 3G and 4G networks either.)
Simplify and Automate 5G Network Planning
Whether you’ve already deployed 5G services or are just beginning to plan a 5G network, your planners will run into unexpected trouble if they don’t have a complete picture of network inventory and service routes, along with timely analysis of network performance, resiliency and vulnerabilities.
The time to start is now, with your current network, or in regions where 5G networks are taking longer to get up and running.
Here’s what you need to do.
1. Make sure you can see everything in your network
First, your network planners must work with complete, up-to-the-date network data that is easy to understand and manipulate. No excel sheets. No guessing. You need real live data that feeds into your planning systems, and paints an accurate picture of network inventory and service routes from IP to fiber optical layers, across all infrastructure domains and vendors. Once you start planning 5G network slices and their SLAs, this level of visibility will be critical to getting it right. Obviously, you need platform that automates this real-time discovery process for your planners.
2. Make sure you understand everything in your network
Carriers have deployed miles and miles of fiber optic links and deployed backbone networks across entire countries. They will also need to deploy thousands of 5G nodes. Whether you’re planning your first or next 5G rollout, you need to understand where your service traffic is actually going right now, and whether there are any risks to its unfettered flow.
Many times, the proximity of one fiber to another makes it a natural candidate for redundancy, but can also lead to much larger failure due to shared risks. The same is true for mmWAVE antennas or “slices” of the network that are dedicated to specific customers or domains. How many do I need? Where should they be located to meet expected demand in the most efficient way? What will happen if site equipment or a router fails and what’s the best way to work around it?
Clearly, the same automated platform that constantly monitors and discovers your network inventory should also be able to analyze and alert you to vulnerabilities like shared risk links, over- and under-utilization, service path latencies, SLA violations, and the impact of link, router or other equipment failures. By implementing these analytical capabilities in your current multi-layer, multi-domain and multi-vendor network, the next step to 5G planning will be a natural progression of what you’re already doing.
3. Use automation to close the loop and drive efficiency
5G isn’t just about great HD streaming and instant downloads. Its gigabit speeds will promote wider adoption of innovations such as Augmented Reality Glasses and Virtual Reality Headsets that remain niche products due to the latency and lag in current networks. Finding the optimal path through your network, between a data source and its destination, is essential to the user experience of these applications. Being able to recalculate that path on the fly is even more important.
Allocating network resources to a specific service in 3G-4G networks is hard enough because most PCEs calculate within the within the connectivity layer, but do not know or consider the path performance in lower layers. Therefore, hidden risks in lower layers often jeopardize the service experience.
If your network planners do not use a multi-layer Path Calculation Engine (PCE) with template-based policies to provision and optimize service paths automatically, they should start now. Once 5G carriers are faced with provisioning and operating 5G network slices, closed-loop, policy-driven, end-to-end automation of network services is the only way to succeed. Sedona Systems can show you how.
Sedona NetFusion Platform eases the path to 5G
The Sedona NetFusion Network Intelligence and Automation Platform discovers and aggregates network data into a live model of your entire network. This simplified model is easy to understand, easy to work with and always up to date. In addition, NetFusion can calculate and build slices or VPNs with strict SLA, analyzing traffic demands, optimizing long latency paths With your live network model and the fully integrated Planning software module in our Sedona NetFusion suite, you can reduce the complexity, cost, time and resources you need to plan the optimal 5G infrastructure for delivering unrivaled network services, performance and reliability.