The Role of Test & Measurement Companies in Private 5G Networks

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4Q 2020 | IN-5922

Telco operators need to seriously consider partnering with T&M companies to optimize network deployments and quality of coverage as enterprises look to further digitize operations. COVID-19 has made digital transformation top of mind for many.

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Increasing Numbers of Optimization Solutions for Private Network Deployments


Enterprise digitization is a key trend as enterprises look to enhance their workflow flexibility and improve product quality and efficiency in production. COVID-19 has further driven the need for enterprises to digitize and transform. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of ensuring business continuity via a higher degree of automation and the need for visibility in supply chains to react swiftly to disruptions. An important component for enterprise digitization lies within private networks. A private network allows enterprises to maintain network integrity and protect sensitive data (e.g., personal data or production data). It also provides customization of the network to match the heterogenous requirements of enterprises. ABI Research forecasts that private 5G network revenue will reach more than US$38 billion by 2030.

While enterprises are looking to implement private 5G networks, solutions providers and Test & Measurement (T&M) companies like Fujitsu, NEC, and Rohde & Schwarz are launching solutions to optimize network deployments and quality of coverage. Fujitsu’s algorithm optimizes the deployment of private 5G base stations by reducing the time taken to determine optimal placement of wireless base stations. NEC tackles the need for radio specialists to resolve network quality degradation by adopting an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based solution. These solutions aim to shorten the time taken either to deploy a network or to quicken the pace in resolving congestion within the network. Solutions also seek to provide accurate and reliable information that is crucial to resolving any network-related issues in a precise and efficient manner.

Making Optimal Network Deployments Faster and More Cost Effective


Enterprises face multifaceted challenges and difficulties with private wireless networks, including cost of deployment, quality of the network, and accurate information on network performance. Optimization solutions help enterprises lower the cost of private network deployments. Reducing or eliminating the need for radio specialists during deployment reduces the associated professional costs. This also reduces the deployment time, shortening the number of trips or hours for a radio specialist to be on site and deriving the optimal placements for the base stations. These benefit companies by reducing costs and allowing faster time-to-market, which can provide a competitive advantage. Ensuring consistent network quality, such as with NEC’s solution, helps companies save on reactive servicing of the network. Reactive servicing is costly in getting the radio specialists to fix the network and in the opportunity and intangible costs that come with operational downtime. Any unexpected breakdown or degradation of the network is suboptimal and undesirable for these companies, especially in mission-critical or even life-critical applications.

Aside from lowering the cost of deployment and optimizing a network’s performance, it is fundamental to have precise and accurate information about the network at all stages of deployment (e.g., before rollout, during installation, after the close out package, or for optimization). This is where T&M companies, such as Rohde & Schwarz, play a crucial role in providing readings and measurement on these networks and their performance. Enterprises want and need information (e.g., latency, throughput, etc.) about their private networks before and after commercialization. They also need to be certain that their networks are operational as expected before and after commercialization. In the case of network optimization, it is necessary for networks to be regularly tested and measured accurately. Accurate information will help hasten the optimization process and ensure quality network performance for enterprises. Optimization solutions alone will not be sufficient to further smooth out the challenges and drive private network deployments. This requires a complete end-to-end solution.

Telco Operators Will Benefit from Partnership with Testing & Measurement Companies


To provide a complete end-to-end solution for enterprises, different players (e.g., network operators, infra vendors) will need to address the challenges in optimizing networks and incorporate the know-how of T&M companies. There is a synergy that could be realized for telco operators or solution providers to work together with T&M companies to provide a comprehensive solution offering in private networks.

Theoretically, there are at least three possible ways for telco operators to obtain this expertise: 1) develop in-house solutions; 2) acquisitions; and 3) strategic partnerships. The first two are possible in a theoretical sense, but suboptimal in a real business sense. The first method is to develop in-house expertise. This method will require large amounts of upfront investment, time, and resources to build what is readily available in the market. Not only does this duplicate Research and Development (R&D) efforts, it is also uncertain if the solution developed in-house will be as good and cost effective as the solution available in the market. T&M companies have developed products, services, and expertise for testing and improving the quality of mobile networks along the entire network life cycle (e.g., lab verification, site acceptance, benchmarking, optimization). In addition, T&M companies also have experience in dealing with various environments and industries (e.g., automotive) where private 5G networks might be deployed. The second method is to acquire a T&M company. While this brings the expertise to telco operators or solution providers, telco operators’ businesses are not limited to only private 5G networks or private networks. Acquiring a T&M company entails challenges in integrating business units, processes, and people. The intangible (e.g., fixing process, moral) and tangible (e.g., increase in overhead) costs associated with acquisitions do not make it a good business decision.

Finally, establishing a strategic partnership is the recommended method for telco operators or solution providers. This method offers telco operators or solution providers the best of both worlds. It avoids the disadvantages discussed above, while obtaining the expertise required to provide the enterprises with a complete end-to-end solution package. By establishing partnerships with T&M companies, telco operators and solution providers will be better equipped to provide the assurance and performance that enterprises expect from their networks, before and after commercialization. T&M companies can plug in at all stages (e.g., pre-installation, installation, and troubleshooting) of building and operating a private network. Telco operators can benefit from working with T&M companies within the enterprise private 5G network market.



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