5G networks move from the lab into the real world

5G networks are taking their first steps out of trials and labs into reality with innovative use cases demonstrated during the winter Olympics in South Korea early in 2018. Now the “how” of deploying dynamic, self-orchestrating networks has been explored and successfully demonstrated in recent TM Forum proof of concept Catalysts focused around providing new service provision and connectivity for the Tour de France cycle race, to demonstrate the real world benefits and value of 5G and new technologies available.

The Tour de France – a 21-day event that covers 3535km with upwards of 12 million roadside spectators – is the world’s most famous cycle race. It presents broadcasters and connectivity providers with a unique challenge, as the route changes each year passing through challenging terrain, and requires the provision of 6,300 hours of video broadcast to 190 countries.

5G offers operators who support large-scale events such as the Tour de France the opportunity to provide innovative new services, including live 360° on demand 4k video, VR/AR and rider telemetry, with higher performance and quality at reduced cost and complexity through automation and new techniques involving AI and Machine Learning.

TM Forum Catalysts demonstrated the “how” through use cases

The Catalyst “5G Intelligent Network Planning and Optimization” showcased at the Digital Transformation World event in Nice, France, demonstrated how complex and movable 5G networks can be automatically planned, instantiated and assured to support self-provisioned on-demand services. The Catalyst was championed by AT&T, BT, NTT, Orange and TIM with Aria Networks, Ericsson, MYCOM OSI and Wipro as the key participants.

The Catalyst demonstrated how MYCOM OSI Experience Assurance and Analytics™ (EAA) solutions integrate with Digital Enablement Platforms from Wipro, Service and Domain orchestrators and VNFs from Ericsson through open APIs including TM Forum TMF 628, TMF 642 and TOSCA, to provide continuous monitoring of service quality, network slice performance and scaling up/down recommendations.

The demonstration was delivered through an integrated ecosystem where digital enablement platforms linked directly with customer portals integrate with orchestration and assurance solutions, to automatically add capacity and assure services with dynamic closed loop service and slice quality management.

MYCOM OSI solutions provided end-to-end real time reactive and proactive assurance to all active network slices, to ensure automated scaling and reconfiguration of slices occurred to meet demand and provide multi-level assurance based on service quality and network-level KPIs and KQIs. Several network slices were deployed:

  • eMBB with guaranteed delivery for broadcast video feeds
  • eMBB without guaranteed delivery for mobile spectator video feeds
  • eMBB/uRLLC for rider telemetry

The use cases demonstrated included:

Automated Network Slice Design – It optimizes and reduces the time taken to design networks and slices by utilizing AI driven network and slice designs based on capacity, performance and quality criteria. The network and slices are then automatically designed and the information is passed to MYCOM OSI EAA in preparation for immediate monitoring of the network and slices after instantiation.

Automated Network Slice Activation – It automates slice activation with immediate assurance that reduces time to support services, where service orchestration triggers the previously designed slice along with associated VNF/PNF and transport requirements. The slice details are shared with MYCOM OSI EAA via TOSCA-O for immediate multi-layer service and slice monitoring via orchestrators and VIM.

Reactive Closed Loop Automation – It provides automated healing, where MYCOM OSI EAA identifies QoS and SLA breaches from domain orchestrators and network infrastructure to generate resolution instructions. EAA alerts the service orchestrator of the breach, which in turn passes details to active inventory and closed loop planning solutions that redesign a new network slice to resolve the issue. The slices and VNFs are redesigned and reconfigured with new details passed to EAA for continuous closed loop assurance.

Proactive Closed Loop Automation – It pre-empts any potential resource and quality issues based on adding new demand or services. EAA monitors service quality, such as video, along with demand levels from the Service Enablement Platform. Based on the delivered quality and demand levels, EAA generates a request for slice redesign to the service orchestrator based on potential quality degradations, pre-empting any quality issues before they occur and reduce quality of experience.

Customized Customer Experience – In future, delivering high agility and customer experience will involve quality-based guarantees and SLAs, especially for enterprise customers and consumers who have purchased premium services. Integrating with service enablement platforms and orchestrators, MYCOM OSI EAA performs closed loop orchestration and management as in the earlier examples but, crucially, reports unresolved SLA breaches to the service enablement platform for remedial action such as credit, partial refund, etc.

Together, the use cases demonstrate how 5G networks and telco cloud networks can be designed, deployed and assured in less time, at less cost and with higher efficiency, whilst supporting highly agile on demand digital services.

They also successfully demonstrate how open, interconnected ecosystems where best-of-breed solutions interconnect and interwork via open APIs can deliver highly automated capabilities, to provide networks and services with the adaptability and agility required.