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Building The Smart Fabric Of 5G Connectivity With Experience Assurance

The co-existence of 4G and 5G networks will create a complex landscape until standardization and while the telcos transition to 5G, they are required to assure compliance with the performance standards as well.

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A century after the 1918 flu, another pandemic struck the world. However, there is a world of a difference in the way the two pandemics have been navigated through and controlled, especially in terms of crisis communication. Today, we no longer need to dispatch boy scout armies to announce safety protocols and infection control guidelines to the general public. All the information that we need is available on the internet with only a few taps, sometimes even with just a voice instruction to smart assistants like Siri and Alexa.

In all fairness, hundred years seem like an ample period of time to bring about such a major transition. But since the invention of the world wide web about 30 years ago, the degree and scale of evolution of network technology have been unprecedented. As we gear up to leverage the 5G experience of negligible latency and real-time data transmission, it is interesting to see that the internet has transitioned from being a luxury almost a decade back to an absolute necessity to keep up with the constantly changing consumer needs and market dynamics.

The number of 5G connections are expected to reach 1 billion in 2023, which will double to 2 billion by the end of 2024. By 2025, 21% of all worldwide cellular connections will be 5G. This will include human-to-machine as well as machine-to-machine connections. As human-to-human connectivity increasingly becomes dependent on “smart machines”, the application of 5G for facilitating seamless communication emerges to be critical. Even though the idea of smart homes and smart cities is not new, but there was a lack of a 5G-level network technology to transform the ideas into reality.

Despite the advancements in the areas of Artificial Intelligence, Edge Computing, and Internet of Things, things progressed slowly because of the absence of high-speed internet connectivity. Even 4G networks have an average latency of 50ms, which seems like forever when we are in need for real-time data transmission for technologies like autonomous vehicles. With 5G, the latency period is expected to drop up to 1ms. Evidently, the 5G network is capable of building an uninterrupted fabric of connectivity across smart devices and services.

Use cases for 5G adoption

Some of the highest priorities for organizations embracing 5G network connectivity are:

· Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB): By offering Enhanced Mobile Broadband services, 5G can enable data-driven use cases that generally require high rate of data transmission across a wide coverage area. With eMBB, 5G will facilitate an all-rounded experience through hyperconnectivity. UHD video streaming, tactile internet, 3D/UHD telepresence, and virtual reality are some of the examples which will be taken to the next level with the help of 5G.

· Massive Machine Type Communication (mMTC): Hyperautomation is one of the biggest IT tech trends of the recent years. This means maximum machine-to-machine interaction with minimum manual intervention. The proliferation in the IoT devices and sensors is a derivative of this trend and is necessary to create an ‘anywhere, anything’ connectivity amongst humans and machines. 5G-led massive Machine Type Communication (mMTC) will be significant in supporting a large number of devices in a small area where sporadic data transmission is required. This will be particularly beneficial for IoT projects like smart cities, smart homes, utility metering, smart wearables, remote sensors, and live object tracking.

· Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communication (URLLC): Creating a new generation of cyber-physical systems seems achievable with the Ultra-Reliable Low-Latency Communication offered by 5G. While enabling Industry 4.0, the 5G network will bestow a new dimension to mission-critical communications which involve applications such as remote surgery, autonomous vehicles, robotics, smart grid, aviation control, and even tactile internet.

Assuring the 5G experience

The 5G promise is all about disrupting the way we connect and interact with each other as well as with machines. It is about establishing an unobstructed and continuous communication channel across multiple points. To fulfill this promise, 5G network providers will first need to overcome the numerous network testing challenges that may hinder a great experience. The co-existence of 4G and 5G networks will create a complex landscape until standardization and while the telcos transition to 5G, they are required to assure compliance with the performance standards as well. From network virtualization issues to higher security threats, the 5G services providers will need to address all the concerns preemptively to establish trust in their offerings. To do so, they will need to move beyond the usual strategies and take a two-pronged approach – network test automation and experience assurance based communication. Keeping the end user experience in consideration while strengthening the network infrastructure will be the key differentiator that will separate leaders from laggards in the 5G space.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Srikanth Chakkilam

CEO, Cigniti Technologies

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