BARCELONA, Spain — Exfo is increasing its interest and focus on 5G at MWC Barcelona. The test, monitoring, and analytics company this week announced its membership in the O-RAN Alliance and said that it was selected by mobile operator Telenor Denmark to provide an automated troubleshooting system within its network.
For mobile operators, Exfo provides a cloud-native approach to monitoring the end-to-end 5G network. According to Claudio Mazzuca, VP of systems and services at Exfo, it provides links between the different network components to identify issues and provide visibility through its probes into the core of its network.
The firm combines active and passive testing, fiber, and topologies to fully monitor and provide visibility to these networks on a single platform. Exfo brings in data from its probes and feeds it to its topology, and then it relies on automated algorithms to pinpoint potential issues in the network or environment.
According to Mazzuca, the company’s purchase of mobile assurance vendor Astellia helped Exfo gain expertise of how to provide RAN and radio. It acquired Astellia around this time last year.
Due in part to this acquisition, the company’s test and monitoring offering is differentiated, says Mazzuca, by its ability to provide end-to-end visibility into all the elements of the 5G network including the core, backhaul, and RAN.
Telenor Denmark has deployed Exfo’s automated common cause analysis alongside its existing network monitoring systems to improve its detection and diagnosis of problems, as well as increase the efficiency, in its service operations center.
Mazzuca says that Exfo’s topology capabilities are a large part of this deployment, because it enables root cause analysis. The monitoring company is analyzing KPIs for the operator to detect anomalies and degradation.
For migration and operational transformation use cases, such as Telenor, Exfo scales up and down with APIs. That’s where Exfo is integrating the probes. This allows them to aggregate in real-time, predict anomalies, and use topology to find the root cause of the issue. Mazzuca says that because topology will change as the enterprise does, you need to understand the physical, virtual, and the hybrid. And, he says, you have to understand the slice.
The monitoring company says it will be part of a few working groups in the O-RAN Alliance. According to Mazzuca Exfo will focus primarily on assurance slicing discussions and work related to creating a standardized application for the RAN.
He noted that Exfo’s ability to analyze performance of the fronthaul and detect experience based on data from its fiber monitoring will be an asset as it contributes its view on monitoring and testing the RAN.
“We’ve been working with the service provider, so it was an area where it made sense for us to get involved,” he said.
Exfo is just one of the most recent vendors to join O-RAN. NXP, Samsung, and Ericsson all joined this month.
The O-RAN Alliance was formed last year following the merger of the xRAN Forum and C-RAN Alliance. Its founding members include AT&T, China Mobile, Deutsche Telekom, NTT DoCoMo, and Orange.
It has since established working groups for use cases and architecture, radio intelligent controller, fronthaul, stack reference design, cloudification and orchestration, resource information and control, and white-box hardware.