5Qs on 5G: MycomOSI

The latest in our 5Qs on 5G series sees Sandeep Raina, Product Marketing Director explain how MYCOM OSI, a company that provides assurance and analytics within mobile networks, will fit into the 5G ecosystem. 

Can you define where in 5G networks MYCOM OSI’s technology will play?

As Communications Service Providers (CSPs) make the transition to digital service providers, with the help of big data analytics, cloud technologies, heterogeneous HSPA/LTE/WiFi/5G access and ultra-fast, agile service delivery capabilities, they must recognise that their operational environment can no longer be efficiently managed through human efforts alone.

Add in world of virtualised network functions, IoT complexity and as-yet unknown 5G challenges, it’s clear that delivering a customer-centric experience is only going to get harder for mobile operators.

The scale, speed and complexity are so great that their operational platform must be highly automated, elastic with petabyte scale, driven by analytics and have mission-critical robustness. That’s where MYCOMOSI will play. Our MYCOM OSI Experience Assurance and Analytics (EAA) combines customer, service, network and device behaviour into an end-to-end, real-time collaborative view. This enables all business functions including operations, planning, marketing and care teams to have access to all necessary information to make better decisions.

Pre-integrating the OSS, orchestration and analytics function into an innovative architecture enables service providers to maintain control, efficiency and agility as they compete in the new world of digital services and the Internet of Things. MYCOM OSI services and solutions will contribute to this transformation of operators’ OSS, Orchestration and IT systems so that they can gradually fulfil the new requirements introduced by 5G and future networks.

The 5GIC is perhaps the first time, in this manner, that sustained investment and leadership has been put behind the testing and assurance of a 5G network.

What is MYCOM OSI’s role in current 5G R&D?

MYCOM OSI is an active partner at 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC), offering its 5G and IoT performance validation tool. Here tools are used to monitor and optimize the evolving network for indoor and outdoor coverage and performance. This includes network assurance systems that validate the evolving 5G network by monitoring and analyzing critical design parameters such as throughput, latency and volumes of data transferred. MYCOM OSI’s service assurance system detects the swings in design parameters and their impact on the reliability of service through bespoke, specific algorithms after deep inspection/ interaction with the network layers.

The 5GIC is perhaps the first time, in this manner, that sustained investment and leadership has been put behind the testing and assurance of a 5G network. This collaborative approach is a valuable asset to the industry, with independent experts and companies working together to get it off the ground.

What new market opportunities does the advent of 5G offer to MYCOM OSI?

The market opportunities made possible by 5G will only become clear as time passes. However what we do know is that IoT will happen faster than any other application and this is where our focus will be. Experience Assurance and Analytics (EAA) enables CSPs to manage digital services in highly automated virtualized network environments, improving the digital experience of its corporate customers and Internet of Things (IoT) partners.

What is new for us is that as well as managing those networks we now have the ability to manage the connected devices and their data to offer additional services such as assurance and analytics.

Reliability is vital in 5G/IoT networks. The acceptable level of service assurance for most digital, time-critical services is 100% but current management of mobile networks does not assure such high levels of reliability.  Many operator processes will need proactive management and closed-loop automation to reduce delays and increase network reliability. What is new for us is that as well as managing those networks we now have the ability to manage the connected devices and their data to offer additional services such as assurance and analytics.

Insights-driven, customer-centric, service level assurance will play a big part in ensuring reliability and the promise of 5G networks. Operators must rely on proactive and prescriptive analytics to identify usage patterns to prioritise network traffic and offer additional services. For example, through usage patterns, operators can identify that students use their phones to stream videos at the same time every day and so can prioritise network bandwidth for this duration. At the same time they can identify areas that network bandwidth is not being utilised and push special offers such as discounted data download rates to customers. As networks become increasingly virtualised in this way, the NFV service orchestration and management layer must have comprehensive, continuous and real-time awareness of end-to-end network QoS and customer QoE.

Ultimately 5G is not just a new ‘G’, it necessitates a deep operational transformation to prepare for the capabilities it will enable.

What are the remaining major unknowns in terms of what 5G will look like?

The reality is that it is still early days before 5G standards are set and at least a couple of years before real customer trials start. Until then there are a number of areas that we won’t have clarification on until nearer the time.

Unsurprisingly the biggest unknown is speed, latency and throughput of the 5G access network. An essential part of understanding this is in the 5G RAN network. New RAN architecture, new waveforms for massive MIMO systems to support sub-millisecond latency and capacity goals of 20Gbps, and how network slicing will be implemented in the radio (macro/micro cells) as well as the core network. The current LTE-A move to the ultimate 5G RAN will require multi-staged development and migration.

Another area that has yet to become clear is what the 5G network core will look like. Will it have components for IoT technology to be embedded and how they will interact with each other; this could mean new standards for IoT device language. The timing and steps for changeover form LTE EPC to 5G soft core will need to be determined. Since the virtualised core network (NFV/SDN) will form an essential part of the new 5G soft core, its management, reliability and availability will be areas that will need sorting out.

What do you make of attempts to speed up the process of 5G development – does the market need a “faster” track to 5G?

What’s happening right now is that demand for a 5G network is coming from customers within every segment. This is driven by the use of services such as social media, video streaming and IoT applications. Over the next few years the demand is set to increase as connected cars, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies come into play and start to push network boundaries.

To cater to this demand we will see a push for a release of early 5G. Currently it is predicted that early commercial 5G trials will take place in 2020 but the demand from users and demand on the network could mean that we could see this happen as early as 2018. Similarly the economic benefits that go hand in hand with the opportunities enabled by 5G could see the push forward to make 5G a reality in some markets much sooner.

IoT presents an opportunity to realise new revenue streams and transform product businesses into services businesses and extend their relationship with customers.

When we consider the huge amount of connected devices predicted over the next few years it’s easy to understand why enterprises are putting pressure on 5G vendors to hurry the development process. IoT presents an opportunity to realise new revenue streams and transform product businesses into services businesses and extend their relationship with customers. For this reason, they are pushing 5G vendors to provide fast, low latency networks to make IoT applications work better in a mobile and fixed network. 5G will open a whole new realm of business opportunities, which will benefit a vast number of verticals ranging from energy, healthcare, smart homes, smart transportation to robotics and manufacturing.

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