5G is on the horizon, and alongside it all of those use cases we’ve seen demonstrated or have heard are in development and under test: connected driverless cars, virtual and augmented reality, remote robotic surgery, smart city infrastructure, wearables. The list is endless, and can be further extended with the whole host of applications we’re yet to realise are possible.
Many of these use cases require very low latency and very high bandwidth. Over the last number of years we have seen a move towards hosting and running processes in the public and private cloud, but times have changed and this approach will not support all of the enterprise and consumer needs of the future. The industry is beginning to realise that emerging 5G services and applications cannot afford the round trip delays to the public or private cloud.
There are also security risks. Imagine a driverless car, wearable medical device, or machine-to-machine communication in a nuclear power plant: all of these high risk 5G use cases demand the greatest level of network reliability and security.
Instead, we have to move things to the edge of the network. Enter multi-access edge computing (MEC). This will see the convergence of the radio access network (RAN) and core networks, and will require operators to leverage new approaches to network testing and validation.
The industry is currently learning as it goes along: 5G standardisation is a work in progress, we’re seeing the experimental convergence of networks and technologies, and an examination of how telecoms infrastructure can best be utilised to support the IoT. What we do know is that many components of the mobile core network need to be moved closer to the end user, at the mobile edge, in order to reduce latency and traffic load, and increase bandwidth on the network. This approach also allows resources to be flexibly increased or reduced, according to demand.
An estimated 50 billion connected ‘things’ are expected to be in use by 2020, and networks and operators had best be ready. The ITU has specified that up to 1 million IoT devices should be supported per square kilometer. This may seem far off, but the proliferation of devices will continue faster than we think. This means ensuring these new network environments are validated and secure.
VIAVI has been developing the test tools to support the development of virtualised functions in mobile edge architecture. TeraVM offers a complete end-to-end testing solution from RAN through the EDGE to the Mobile Core when used in combination with TM500, which stress tests the impact of RAN traffic on the core network. What makes our tools unique is the high degree of realism they provide; essential for operators to prepare their networks for the demands of a massive number of connections through the IoT, whilst also coping with bandwidth hungry, delay sensitive edge applications such as AR.
TeraVM can generate highly realistic applications traffic at scale in a fully securitised, virtual environment. The testing solution can simulate millions of end user devices – replicating MEC specific use cases and the IoT environment of 2020 – whilst also allowing operators to run and test key services and applications such as Voice and Video over LTE (VoLTE and ViLTE).
Our tools allow operators to go beyond basic boundary performance testing, simulating real-world traffic and ensuring their networks are robust enough to cope with the complexity and demands of devices and traffic at scale.
In addition to offering a high degree of realism and a high degree of scale, we can also help to validate a high degree of securitisation. Modern IoT devices have security features but secure sessions need to be tested and ensure they don’t introduce bottlenecks for other traffic. It will be down to operators to take on the security mantle, intercepting any threats and ensuring traffic is authenticated and robustly encrypted at the first point of contact: ideally at the network edge. It is here that the Security Gateway (SeGW) will reside, and again, rigorous testing of physical and virtual SeGW functions is essential to ensure that networks are robust, and any hazardous IP packets are blocked before they enter the core network.
It is only through the use of complete, RANtoCore™ testing and validation solutions that operators will be able to gain a complete view of their network, and determine how it performs under the demands of real-world traffic scenarios.
By offering these solutions to the market today, VIAVI enables the development of virtualised functions in the mobile edge architecture. And moving to the edge is the only way the industry will accelerate low-latency applications into 5G and bring the promised benefits of MEC and IoT.
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Senior Product Line Director, TeraVM, VIAVI
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