Is your mobile backhaul ready?

Strategies that operators can take to prepare their mobile backhaul for 5G
Doussau: "Better planning tools can help CSPs to benefit from  Distributed Antena Systems (DAS), and HetNet."
Doussau: "Better planning tools can help CSPs to benefit from  Distributed Antena Systems (DAS), and HetNet."

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Cyril Doussau, senior director, global product marketing at InfoVista shares his insights on strategies that operators can take to prepare their mobile backhaul for 5G.

CommsMEA: How have legacy networks been impacted by mobile operators adopting new convergent technologies – like VoLTE?

The challenge resides in the fact that older circuit-switched legacy networks are actually very reliable in carrying voice services, so VoLTE should at least match or surpass these legacy networks in quality. Herein lie the challenges: CSPs must be able to properly monitor and assure the quality of both data AND voice services in these new convergent VoLTE networks. At the same time, legacy networks will not go away anytime soon, so CSPs must monitor an increasingly complex scenario where the legacy networks co-exist with the new networks. This is where a unified network performance management tool like InfoVista can help.

CommsMEA:What strategies can telecom operators take to prepare their mobile backhaul for 5G, and assure the quality of their data and voice services as both real and virtual network devices are merged into new architectures?

5G will be a NFV/SDN based network natively, meaning that both real and virtual network devices/functions will be provisioned and properly assured (performance). The challenge is that the network and its devices will become almost fluid, and the challenge is not to actually monitor them, but to actually know when they are provisioned/moved in the network. Therefore, the network monitoring tool, aside from being able to collect data from these real and virtual devices, will need to synchronise/integrate with what we call SDN Orchestrator to be able to know where these entities are. Moreover, the performance management team can also feed the orchestrator so, for instance, more bandwidth can be allocated on demand in case of network performance degradations. On a technical note, this requires what we call a REST API to connect the performance management system with the SDN orchestrator.

CommsMEA:How can telcos assure the quality of their data and voice services as both real and virtual network devices are merged?

The challenge is in knowing where the real/virtual devices are in the network, as it becomes more dynamic and fluid. Also, the performance monitoring tool should be able to provide information so that CSPs can actually understand how their real/virtual devices are actually impacting subscribers’ quality of experience and vice-versa. That is to say, one needs to know how performance is from both the network point-of-view and from the subscriber point-of-view.

CommsMEA:As CSPs try to balance the financial strain and operational challenges of technology investments create, how can SaaS-based service assurance help them? How well is InfoVista placed in this space?

InfoVista has been recognised by Analysis Mason as a leader in offering network performance management as a service. Analysis Mason also predicts 10% of the performance management market will be based on SaaS models. The reason is simple: several CSPs who wanted to have leading-tools such as InfoVista faced CAPEX reduction. By relying on SaaS, not only they can get access to the best of breed tools, but also alleviate their bottom-line by using an OPEX-based commercial model. We have some ROI analyses showing that the combination of SaaS with factors such as revenue protection and subscriber churn reduction (as consequences of better service assurance tools) are win-win combinations for smaller operators. As a note, we still believe larger Tier-1 operators will rely on traditional business-models, with a Tier2s and 3s leaning towards SaaS.

CommsMEA: Tell us more about Network as a Service- How does InfoVista enable CSPs to achieve end-to-end NaaS delivery?

There are two angles. First, our solution is hosted on a private and secure cloud, allowing CSPs to benefit from all solution features in a safe reliable environment. The second, and perhaps more important aspect, is that we have a commercial offer that is clear and simple for our customers. The customer can know exactly how much he is going to spend, he is sure his toolset will be always maintained and up-to-date, and if customisation is required, we have a clear “menu” describing the available options and respective costs. These explain our early lead in the SaaS market.

CommsMEA: What’s the latest technology/solution from InfoVista for communication service providers?

We keep innovating in all of our product fronts in planning, service assurance and optimisation. Our product (VistaInsight) has been evolving to really give CSPs a better understanding of how network performance affects subscriber QoE and vice-versa. For instance, we know that CSPs want to provide differentiated services to VIP subscribers (typically enterprise customers, artists, politicians and many times their own CxOs), so we have new features that allow operators to closely monitor the QoE of these VIP subscribers and quickly act to solve any eventual problem, even before they start calling to complain!

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