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Accelerating 5G with Service Assurance


For its next act, active assurance will go beyond identifying root causes to actually triggering functions in the network that automate resolution, effectively closing the loop without any human intervention.

Active assurance:
putting “passive” in the past

Network assurance has long been a staple of mature networks. But whereas previous networks were supported by “passive” assurance, 5G will be buoyed by “active” assurance. 

In the passive world, assurance solutions were able to flag issues but couldn’t specify the origination point or root cause. So, even if a potential issue were identified relatively quickly, it could take half a day or more of analytics and monitoring to firmly establish that a problem did indeed exist.

As mentioned earlier, these 5G networks are in their infancy. That means we can expect frequent software updates from the vendors that must all be constantly revalidated. Active assurance testing can serve as the backbone of change management, immediately identifying issues and making sure service is not degraded. 

Active testing brings knowledge and immediacy to trouble situations by working constantly in the background to identify issues before subscribers are impacted. Rather than spend hours figuring out whether there’s a problem, active assurance can immediately launch a series of progressive tests to quickly reach a definitive conclusion. At the heart of this capability is intelligent process automation, with tests being launched dynamically based on real-time inputs from previous tests. This helps protect not only the customer experience but the effects on costs as well. After all, the more quickly you can isolate issues and address them, the less damage they can cause. The more a machine can do the grunt work, the more NOC teams can be deployed to actually solve issues.  

To be sure, active assurance is not just about detecting and isolating issues, it is about running tests constantly to see if an issue could ever exist, no matter how remote the possibility may seem in the moment. And this is happening networkwide. Whether out at the edge working to determine what that end user experience looks like, or at the heart of the core, this networkwide view provides the holy grail to expediting resolution. In the past, assurance would have only been done within the network, without regard for what may have been happening on the consumer’s device. The result? Many problems simply slipped under the radar. Not anymore. 

Coming to a network near you

There’s a decent chance that early 5G adopters will be served by a network featuring active assurance. In fact, Spirent recently announced that it is deploying the technology for a major tier-one U.S.-based mobile operator. Dozens of cities are already benefitting, with hundreds more planned heading into 2020. 

And if you think what’s possible right now is exciting, the future for active testing glows even brighter. For its next act, active assurance will go beyond identifying root causes to actually triggering functions in the network that automate resolution, effectively closing the loop without any human intervention. This puts operators firmly in the world of the zero-touch network. 

This evolution of functionality will move operators ever closer to the delivery of trusted, mission-critical enterprise service assurance, where SLAs can be guaranteed and actively validated. Eventually, active testing will evolve to provide active security testing, too, as the network becomes even more disaggregated and wrapped in software.  

But first, we have brand-new networks to assure and an opportunity to deliver the best experiences consumers and enterprises alike have ever received from mobile—brought to you, in part, by active assurance. 



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