BARCELONA, Spain — Test and monitoring company Viavi is looking at the underlying technologies behind mobile networks in order to ensure that 5G applications will work reliably. The company is playing a role in bringing future 5G devices and systems to market.
The company works primarily with operators, service providers, and base station manufacturers to validate that these mobile systems will operate efficiently.
Last year, Viavi acquired Cobham AvComm (also known as Aeroflex) for its wireless test and measurement businesses in order to bolster its position in the 5G wireless deployment market. The acquisition, which was complementary to Viavi’s visibility and assurance capabilities, enabled the company to provide a portfolio of testing systems that assure the network from R&D to running the network and back again.
This cycle starts with lab testing and emulation systems for 5G networks, can validate the systems for deployment, and monitor the systems once deployed — then it provides assurance and optimization that feeds back into the way that it tests the systems to begin with.
According to Stephen Hire, vice president of wireless marketing at Viavi, in a conversation at MWC Barcelina, nearly every 5G base station has been validated by Viavi labs and its TM500 network tester making is the “de-facto standard.” And, he says, its emulation services work for hundreds of thousands of devices and the application traffic on top of it as well.
And today, Viavi launched optical network testing for the network core and transport, which it says will help manage performance requirements in modern networks, including 5G.
There have been a number of questions surrounding the security of 5G networks and components. Viavi doesn’t have a security product, but it does test the security of these devices and components. Amit Malhotra, head of marketing communications and programs at Viavi, explained that this trend of focusing on security started with 4G, but has turned into a life of it’s own. 5G, more than previous generations of networks, needs to be secure and resilient to support the array of applications, he said.
In addition, Malhotra noted that security testing starts early, and in 5G they’re seeing it even earlier due to the additional challenges brought by modern networks. Viavi, for these reasons, recently joined NetSec Open, which is an industry group to define open and transparent standards for security.
The company is also helping to ensure that the technology is robust enough to enable the myriad of use cases that 5G could enable via research test beds. This includes vehicle test simulations that it has been working on for over a year. These types of applications, which Hire referred to as “safety-critical,” require the technology to work right the first time, which is why testing and emulation is paramount.
The company recently put out a report about “The State of 5G Deployments,” which highlights the commercial 5G launches expected by the end of 2019. The report tracks public announcements and validates their accuracy against Viavi’s work with operators to get a bigger picture of 55 commercial 5G network launches expected by the end of this year.
The region with the most operators planning to deploy live 5G networks are Europe and the Middle East/Africa, which respectively it says will have 21 and 14 commercial 5G networks. The Americas are expected to have eight, Asia will have 10, and Australasia will have two.