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Automated assurance needs to accelerate in 5G private networks

Automated assurance needs to accelerate in 5G private networks

Private networks are accelerating at a notable speed and increasingly gaining recognition for their distinct capabilities. The market is heating up with operators eager to get a boost in revenue from the 42% of enterprises that have revealed plans to implement 5G private networks within the year, the market of which is expected to reach US$42.4 billion by 2032.

Private networks' appeal

Private mobile networks are dedicated to a single enterprise, and offer, particularly in 5G, a reliable alternative to physically wired or WiFi connections. In an enterprise where large numbers of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, mobile devices, smart phones and users are all integrated, private networks offer privacy, scalability, powerful connectivity, and significant security advantages.

Requirements can be tailored to meet the exact needs of the enterprise that gains complete control over which devices can connect to the network. Private networks are more reliable than WiFi and provide better coverage indoors and outdoors, eliminating patchy internet connection problems and avoiding latency issues – i.e. the delay in data transfer, while offering significant cost savings.

The move to 5G private networks extends LTE’s benefits and has enabled many enterprises to increase efficiency and productivity. In almost every industry, there are success stories of implementing private 5G networks, with many more planning the move. This is particularly prevalent in mission-critical enterprises like defense, healthcare and utilities where a reliable and continuous mobile connection to industrial IoT and data-driven mobile devices could mean the difference between life and death.

Security services

Security services prefer 5G private networks to ensure reliable connectivity and security to IoT devices such as security cameras, mobile communications devices and portables. In healthcare, private 5G networks offer high reliability and high security for device tracking, monitoring and distribution of medicines and even ambulances with 5G connections offer the ability to transmit vital information such as vital signs, and facilitate remote diagnosis and quicker decision making.

SNS Telecom and IT research reported 5G private network savings of up to 40% for the East West-Gate Intermodal Terminal in Hungary. Baosteel, a business unit of China's Baowu Steel Group, moved its 43-sites to private 5G and achieved savings of $7 million in annual costs.

Their private network enabled the company to lower lost production capacity from 9,000 tons to 700 tons by reducing manual quality inspections and achieved a higher detection rate of more than 90%. The mining sector has also seen a boost from 5G with a considerable reduction in worker safety with increased use of unmanned mining equipment. Dongyi Group in China for example, reported $1 million in annual cost savings with the digitization and automation that 5G facilitated.

The SLA conundrum

Transitioning to private networks, however, necessitates deep insights into the network at all times. With the wide-spread adoption of digital technologies and the potential risk of downtime, stringent service level agreements (SLAs) that define key performance indicators (KPIs) and key quality indicators (KQIs), are a critical element to ensure the demands of enterprises are met.

A survey conducted last year revealed that the cost of downtime in industrial businesses is close to $125,000 an hour. Enterprises moving to private 5G networks will therefore be more meticulous about holding operators to certain guarantees that are promised to them, whether it is regarding latency, throughput, network availability or security.

Potential of assurance solutions

Automated assurance solutions offer a comprehensive solution to monitoring and reporting network traffic and performance across 3G, 4G and 5G voice and data services, providing end-to-end visibility from the RAN to the core, across different locations, architectures and vendors.

The information is collected and captured in a central site for KPIs, advanced analytics, session tracing and troubleshooting. It is a powerful tool that enables the network to be monitored by operators, system integrators and even enterprise users. In a scenario where an operator or integrator is responsible for thousands of private networks, one platform in the cloud can manage all these networks securely and ensure privacy through multi-tenancy.

Automated assurance solutions offer operators the opportunity to have a bird's eye view of the network. It allows operators to set KPI thresholds according to the SLAs and provide a quick solution to access all the data through dashboards with real-time alerts for network issues, as well as to drill down to troubleshooting views that help reduce the mean time to repair (MTTR).

This is crucial as not delivering on SLAs invokes high penalties, with some agreements stipulating penalties of as much as 5% of the quarterly payment per single incident when breaching the SLA.

Operators, who serve multiple enterprises, need to access not only the enterprise-wide data but also ensure that individual enterprise users are receiving the expected performance, as SLAs are often expected to be met on a per user, per device basis. All this must take place while monitoring hundreds of private networks with different SLAs for each enterprise.

Predictive analytics

Automated assurance solutions look at the actual performance of the network and inform users about any breach of the SLA in real time, through dashboards and alerts.

Operators with advanced assurance solutions with multi-tenancy can offer value added services and allow their enterprise customers' users to control their own organization's data, while having complete separation from other private networks, and view both enterprise-wide and individual users' quality of experience and network performance.

This is offered either stand-alone, on the cloud or through network slicing, which allows operators to create virtual slices of their mobile network with pre-defined capabilities. Assurance solutions should cover both models within one solution for the highest efficiency.

The power of Generative AI

Generative AI (GenAI) is another element to help manage private networks. As GenAI has permeated many industries, so too it offers network operators many potential benefits. Sitting on vast amounts of network data, those automated assurance solutions that include GenAI can collect and analyze the data, from the RAN to the core, which opens huge possibilities for the operator in overcoming existing challenges. Essentially GenAI can draw insights using natural language from the network with prompts to point to data regarding everything from geographies, times, different services, video, VoNR and more, to ease monitoring, troubleshooting and optimize the network.

Keep it simple

There is no doubt that 5G is disruptive in its nature and combined with a private network, facilitates the convergence of all connectivity onto a single efficient pipeline. Advanced multi-tenancy based automated assurance solutions offer operators the ability to feed all the information from multiple networks onto a single platform. They offer the enterprise users self-service access to predictive SLA assurance, analytics, alerts and troubleshooting tools with visibility down to the user and session level, ensuring both the operator and their enterprise customers can reap the promised rewards of private 5G networks.


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