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5G Perspective

Helping India stay connected

Communications Service Providers (CSPs) are under pressure to deploy more high-quality fiber optic networks faster and at lower cost to meet the exponential growth in demand. They are also laying the groundwork for next-generation technologies including 5G and fiber to the home. India’s telecom sector has been challenged over the last few years with financial woes, consolidation, as well as having among the lowest average revenue per user globally. Despite these challenges, wireless usage has exploded in India, which now leads the world in average data use per subscriber. At the same time, FTTH penetration in India is very low, with less than 1 percent of households currently having access to fiber. This is changing as public and private investment in fiber deployment is accelerating.

5G will also be a game changer for India, empowering new user experiences, enabling new services and providing the potential to accelerate innovation and economic growth throughout the country. However, 5G requires additional investment in the fiberization of the network. As Corning indicated, the amount of fiber required to connect all expected 5G cells is almost 100 times greater than what was necessary to connect 3G and 4G microcells.

The speed, scale and complexity that comes with 5G networks will force CSPs to dramatically improve their operational efficiency. CSPs will increasingly rely on machine learning and & AI to automate the service assurance of their networks. These growing demands for additional fiber infrastructure and increasingly automated operations have emerged while the coronavirus has caused lockdowns and manpower restrictions.

EXFO, the top provider of optical test solutions worldwide and a leading provider of service assurance solutions, is working with Indian CSPs to address these requirements and prepare for future demands.

Pandemic pressures and first-time-right installation
The pandemic has highlighted the need for reliable, high-speed internet connectivity. For testing and monitoring fiber networks, best effort is not good enough. Flawless performance is needed when rolling out new services and as a foundation to scale in future. Minimizing contact while dealing with the pandemic further emphasizes the need to get it right the first time without needing repeat visits.

A recent Omdia study of 150 mobile operators worldwide reveals that 51 percent of the mobile operators surveyed state that the top reason for repeat testing is because technicians lacked the right equipment to troubleshoot issues on-site. According to the study, the cost of repeat testing is twice as much as the first visit.

Test equipment with embedded intelligence, automated workflows, and a cloud-connected test ecosystem enable field engineers to work quickly and efficiently. For example, EXFO’s Optical Explorer is the industry’s first optical fiber multimeter with built-in intelligence to enable even inexperienced field technicians to perform link verification and automated fault tracking in seconds.

With resources limited, it’s also important to be able to diagnose problems from a distance. EXFO provides remote fiber optic monitoring solutions to ensure the integrity of the network. Nova Fiber provides end-to-end link testing, diagnostic and proactive monitoring for any type of fiber network. The result of these tools is ‘first time right’ installations with reduced turn-up failures, fewer repeat visits for service calls, improved customer experience, and reduced costs.

Preparing for a 5G world
India’s CSPs are aware of impending demands from accelerated 5G adoption. Along with deploying enough fiber, another consideration is ensuring reliable network performance which fuels customer satisfaction and customer loyalty.

Service providers, including those in India, are challenged in this area because operators are currently 98.7 percent blind to subscriber-impacting events; 91 percent of operators need service assurance automation to maintain control; and operations teams are stretched to the limit.

The end-to-end visibility needed to support more complex 5G networks may be lacking. As a result, EXFO has developed intelligent solutions to provide needed insight. Among them is Nova SensAI, an automated, AI-powered solution providing real-time analytics that can instantly detect, predict, resolve and prevent customer-impacting network performance and service assurance issues. Rather than relying completely on an aggregated, delayed view of performance, Nova SensAI continually analyzes data streams from probes and sensors across all network layers and locations to give operators full, real-time visibility into the user experience and network performance, uncovering problems that could otherwise be hidden to existing monitoring solutions.

A bright future of growth in India
The future holds a great deal of promise for technology adoption in India including 5G. Together, EXFO and forward-thinking Indian network operators can make a difference to quality of service and network availability.

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