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The complexity and challenges of 5G assurance

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If you think existing assurance systems will work for 5G, maybe think again. The complexity of operations for a 5G ecosystem of services, fuelled by network slicing, virtualisation and open APIs provides a real challenge for audit and control.
The complexity and challenges of 5G assurance

According to the latest TeleManagement Forum report, 72% of 5G Revenue is dependent on OSS/BSS Transformation to enable service enablement. Indeed, the business case for 5G depends will largely hinge on the ability of service providers to adapt or in some cases replace its OSS/BSS systems to support 5G use cases.  The influx of new services will require on demand provisioning, real time service creation, order management, dynamic online charging, SLA creation and monitoring to support a massively diverse range of discrete services and applications.   The OSS/BSS systems formally characterized as being siloed, static, scheduled and mainly manual will need to transform to being end to end, dynamic, on demand and automated.  What makes this transformation even more challenging is the lack of standards.

While the discussion on 5G standards has mainly focused on the radio access and technical issues concerning latency, performance and power consumption, the rapid life cycle processes supporting on demand provisioning, service creation, payments and service experience will all depend on the ability to provide end to end assurance management for the federated services supported.

The complexity of operations for this extended ecosystem of services, fuelled by network slicing, virtualisation and open APIs provides a real challenge for audit and control. Thousands of more functions, features and parameters will need to be monitored and measured as we move from a somewhat static peer to peer communication architecture to a dynamic, shared ‘super highway’ message bus. Auditing will need to adapt to incorporate the multiple dynamic elements. How do service providers ensure that users are receiving the service they purchased?  And how do we ensure that the content or service provider is paid correctly?

From an auditing perspective multi-point to multi-point checks will need to monitor a high volume of changes together with the considerable rate of change to these systems.  Automatic scaling and dynamic updating of the components will add further complexity.  This dynamic environment will set the scene for a substantial risk of data loss and will expose service providers to a much higher risk to revenue assurance.

Other factors to consider as part of the 5G technical evolution, include encrypted data flows, protocol normalization and interface bridging between existing networks.   Peace of mind and assurance is likely to move centre stage in the list of priorities for many operators as they begin to assess how they will perform

  • Network Assurance across the virtualized networks
  • Service Assurance with real time service creation and QoS
  • Usage Assurance to ensure no loss of data
  • Billing Assurance for correct payment and transactions
  • Fraud Detection identifying unusual patterns and performance anomalies

Based on a 2017 survey with 117 respondents, conducted by Telecoms.com and Openet, 87% respondents expected existing audit and control systems will struggle to adapt to 5G.  65% of respondents reported that existing revenue assurance systems only collect a sample of transactions, they do not collect and analyse all transactions. With 5G and the focus on new revenue streams and high performance networks, the need to assure revenue and network performance will be vital. Only question is, are current assurance tools up to managing the data volumes and complexity?

Blog Author

Sara Philpott
Exec Director of Enterprise Strategy at Openet

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