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How and why to centralize your management of 5G network testing

Gavin Hayhurst
Apr. 25 2023

Where is a highly skilled RF engineer of most value to the business? In a car, driving around the country manually testing the 5G network? Or at HQ, orchestrating, analyzing and reporting on nationwide testing projects?

As wireless networks become more powerful and sophisticated, so the challenge of managing and optimizing them becomes more complex. The old way of doing things was individual highly skilled engineers conducting siloed network testing. They used their own approach, methodology and scripts. This is neither financially nor physically scalable for today’s 5G networks.

It is simply not viable for some of your most highly skilled engineering talent to spend a large amount of their valuable time in a car collecting measurements, only analyzing the results once they are back in the office.

5G demands a next-generation approach to network testing; where engineers can focus on managing nationwide testing projects and analyzing results, not driving around the country collecting test data. The management of network testing needs to be centralized, automated and cloud-native.

As respected industry analyst Monica Paolini, founder of Senza Fili, explains in her recent report Wider horizons for next-generation testing: The evolution from drive testing to multi-level automated testing in 5G

“Because multiple test modalities and human/device resources may be required [by 5G], it is important to have a centralized mechanism to coordinate activities. A unified management system also allows comprehensive network-wide analysis, for instance, to assess how performance changes across the network for each metric included in the testing process.”

Monica Paolini, founder, Senza Fili

What is centralized management of 5G network testing?

Centralized management enables you to orchestrate, monitor and report on your network testing projects so you can plan and manage multiple projects across a variety of network testing solutions, all from a centralized back office. This means you can create work orders containing test routines and drive routes and distribute these to field test teams, monitor testing progress in real-time, analyze the captured data and create customized dashboards for real-time analysis and reporting from C-level to engineering.

What are the benefits of centralized orchestration, monitoring, analytics and reporting for 5G network testing?

The ability to centrally monitor field units prevents wasted time and the need for re-drives which can result in costly project delays. By providing real-time visibility of the location and the testing status of all your network testing units in the field, orchestration software will alert you to any suspected issues so you can quickly rectify them and minimize disruption to testing.

Centralized orchestration, monitoring and reporting reduces 4G and 5G network testing costs by enabling you to:

Centralize management​

Centralize management by planning and managing multiple network testing projects from a centralized back-office​. By remotely managing all your network testing units, you can distribute standardized work orders, test routines and drive routes to mobile units, deploy software upgrades or remotely run tests on static units.

Increase efficiency    

Increase efficiency​ through the creation of work orders containing test routines and drive routes and then distributing these to field test teams. This enables a single highly skilled engineer to manage many more projects centrally from the back-office, while automation and guidance allows people with no specialist testing or RF skills to conduct the testing in the field. Standardized ‘definition of done’ criteria ensure testing is aligned across teams and testers know when their testing is complete, reducing the need for time-consuming and costly repeat visits.

Monitor and analyze testing progress    

Monitor and analyze testing progress in real-time and create relevant reports and dashboards on completion​. This means you can validate the status of all your network testing units in the field, alerting you to any suspected issues so you can quickly rectify them while field teams are still on-site. Storing all logfiles in a central repository means they can be leveraged by other engineers for further insights, avoiding the need for additional energy-consuming drive tests.

What are the use cases for cloud-native network testing orchestration and analytics?

TEMS™ Cloud is the cloud-native solution for network testing orchestration and analytics, enabling you to plan and manage multiple network testing projects across a variety of TEMS network testing solutions, all from a centralized back-office.

TEMS Cloud transforms the drive testing process from being engineering-driven to AI/ML data-driven, from manual to automated and from an activity very few can do to something that can be done by anyone.

Use cases for cloud-native, centralized network testing orchestration and analytics include:

Grid-based network performance benchmarking and optimization​

Following a merger, our team worked with a US tier-one mobile operator who was required to prove the consolidated entity met the specified 5G network build-out and performance commitments agreed to with the regulator. 

To do this, the operator undertook the world’s largest nationwide benchmarking project, aiming to cover over 1 million drive test miles.

Using TEMS Cloud for centralized project orchestration​ together with TEMS Paragon for network testing, the operator can now ​benchmark their network performance against both their competitors and their regulatory compliance commitments.

The cloud-native centralized management of the benchmarking project means they can use uniform script distribution across drive test teams​, including native python scripts to enable testing of regulator-specified OTT apps​. Orchestration of all drive test devices from a central office for efficiency​ is reinforced by seamless synchronization between devices and TEMS Cloud​.

Automated site verification to accelerate 5G roll-out​

Another example use case is 5G site verification. For this customer, the challenge is exacerbated by the need to perform site acceptance services across a significant number of 5G networks globally.

Initial tuning and acceptance of sites was a bottleneck with time-consuming drive testing required. This was further compounded by the lack of sufficient skilled resources available to do the necessary testing.​

Using the TEMS automated single site verification (SSV) solution, the centralized network testing orchestration and analytics means the operator can guide testers throughout the process. This not only means anyone can conduct the tests, it also uses AI/ML to decide where to test and what to test, reducing overall testing effort​.

The customer calculated that the TEMS SSV solution would reduce the cost of testers by 50% due to automation delivering efficiency and the solution not requiring expert operators.

Learn more about TEMS Cloud

Whether it’s configuring drive test routes, monitoring remote network test equipment, or managing portable devices in the field; the remote control and management of a fleet of test units can be costly, labor-intensive and inefficient. TEMS Cloud enables you to orchestrate, monitor and report on your network testing projects while both your network testers and test equipment are in the field.

To find out more about how cloud-native centralized management can give you remote oversight of field devices, as well as the real-time data analytics your team needs to efficiently coordinate testing projects, please contact us for a demo or to learn more about TEMS Cloud.

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