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According to the latest outlook from the GSMA, momentum is building for 5G Standalone (SA) as CSPs look to unlock innovative 5G use cases and capture new revenue streams. At the beginning of 2024, 47 operators were offering commercial 5G services on SA networks, opening exciting opportunities for the enterprise market, such as 5G network slicing and 5G V2X monetization. Now that the ‘real’ iteration of 5G has arrived, operators also must contend with a blank canvas when it comes to ensuring network security and delivering the promised quality of service to their customers.

According to a survey of more than 100 operators, when identifying their key priorities for 5G SA, an overwhelming majority (85%) prioritized performance over power savings (15%) in their core network infrastructure. According to Light Reading, the authors of the report, “this is the clearest result in the survey and underlines that 5G SA services require performance across metrics such as throughput, latency, reliability, delay, and jitter.” Ensuring performance for 5G SA puts CSPs in new territory as they leave behind 5G NSA’s legacy of complexity and limitations, such as functionality and security, due to legacy technology dependencies. But they now have a less tried and tested landscape to manage – and with that comes the potential for new threats and vulnerabilities. So, how can CSPs equip themselves to meet the demands of 5G SA?

To ensure a robust 5G SA network infrastructure that will support the ever-evolving landscape of new devices and connectivity needs, CSPs need advanced analytics solutions to efficiently monitor SLA objectives and end-to-end experience. In particular, advanced analytics for 5G SA will be required for:

  • Network slice SLA assurance: A critical prerequisite for providing network slices with distinct service characteristics involves the continuous monitoring of slice load and the assurance of KPIs specific to each slice. Analytics for network slices must support slice monitoring, slice fault analysis, and slice optimization to ensure enhanced network quality and customer quality of experience is delivered.
  • QoS Assurance for URLCC: For critical services, efficient real-time monitoring of network performance and timely remediation of service degradation are required. For example, V2X QoS assurance requires real-time monitoring and detailed insights and alerts into active vehicles, network traffic volume, accessibility, retainability and integrity KPIs, when vehicles are on the local network or roaming.
  • 5G SA International Performance Validation: Many 5G use cases will involve an element of roaming. Therefore, 5G SA networks need real-time reporting and alerts to assess and enhance the user experience and network efficiency by detecting service degradation, bottlenecks, failures, and outages, before users are impacted.
  • 5G SA VoNR Testing: Ensure high quality 5G voice services by testing for detailed KPIs that aid troubleshooting and root-cause analysis. End-to-end VoNR testing should include smart-phone-based tests to measure voice quality directly from the device for insights on the user experience - as well as via wireless modules and core-network interfaces to observe QoS from multiple perspectives.
  • 5G Smartphone-based Testing: To ensure the best user experience, testing and monitoring must be conducted directly on flagship iOS and Android devices. Used for self-service app testing, users can test for 5G throughput and latency validation, OTT voice quality, app performance monitoring, as well as validation for key features such as dual connectivity, and eSIM testing etc.
  • 5G Core Cloud and Container Testing: 5G SA’s anticipated volume and velocity of traffic means that CSPs need to be able to automate as many functional tests as possible. With 5G core cloud and container testing, CSPs can simulate 5G Network Functions (NFs) This allows for automated testing for 5G NFs including AMF, SMF, PCF, UPF VMs, and SCP. Additionally, the 5G core will typically be implemented as a collection of Containerized Network Functions (CNF) that communicate via a service mesh which will provide horizontal functionality to the CNFs such as observability and secure communications. Testing the cloud infrastructure for different service models like PaaS, IaaS,CaaS and how the CNFs interact with it will become critical.
  • 5G SEPP Roaming Testing: While the implementation of Security Edge Protection Proxy (SEPP) has the potential to significantly improve 5G roaming security, CSPs should use CI/CI/CT Pipeline testing to fully realize the capabilities of fully automated network lifecycle. Additionally, the interactions between the 5G SEPP and multiprotocol firewalls will become vital to ensure bad actors don’t take advantage of security gaps in different technology domains.

The rise of 5G SA and the latest developments in network slicing, VoLTE and the future of roaming are hot topics that will be discussed at the upcoming GSMA WAS #19. To learn more about how Mobileum is helping CSPs embark on their 5G SA journey on the right foot, book a meeting with us at GSMA WAS #19, being held in Istanbul, Türkiye on 16-18 April.

                       Harnessing the Benefits of 5G Standalone

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