Service Provider / September 21, 2020

Battling 5G Challenges with Network Monitoring and Visibility

Note: This article was previously published by TechUK.

Updated October 28, 2021.

Businesses are waiting with bated breath for 5G to take hold. The speed and connectivity benefits it promises are set to be ground-breaking, so much so that the full extent of its capabilities for both business and consumer use are yet to be realized. However, as with any new innovation, 5G doesn’t come without barriers to success. Those at the forefront of its deployment — service providers — must be prepared to offer unparalleled 5G experiences without compromising on speed, performance or security, all without breaking the bank.

Monitoring the Madness

With its enhanced speed and connectivity, we are on track to see a surge in network traffic as a result of 5G. In fact, it is set to be responsible for 45 percent of the 164 exabytes (EB) of mobile data traffic per month that is forecast by 2025. As such, effective monitoring is paramount to ensure unwavering network performance. However, the virtualization necessary to effectively deploy 5G — needed to ensure all points of the network can be monitored across geographically scattered locations — means that network monitoring is hard to add as an afterthought. It must be planned for and integrated from the beginning.

The need for network monitoring really is unquestionable, with the faster speeds and additional bandwidth of 5G requiring enhanced data control to optimize the use of security tools and minimize the disruption that could be caused by a breach or cyberattack. What’s more, thorough network monitoring will give service providers clearer visibility into all data in motion on the network, which will allow the use of application metadata and filtering intelligence to make improvements based on how and when data is being used.  

Investing in Success

Despite the clear benefits of 5G, cost plays an important part in the decision-making process for many. Accenture research has found that one third of business leaders believe the upfront cost of adopting 5G will be too great, and four out of five believe the cost of managing IT infrastructure and apps will increase by implementing the technology. While 5G will require an upfront investment into the necessary network tools and probes, there are steps that can be taken to minimize monitoring costs and maximize ROI — and it is network visibility that holds the key.

Leveraging complete network visibility can enable service providers to improve the tools they have running on their networks and better optimize the use of these investments. This includes the ability to prioritize critical network traffic while filtering out safe, low-risk, duplicate or irrelevant traffic, therefore cutting down the amount of data being sent to monitoring and security tools. By increasing tool capacity and capability, service providers can minimize their spend on new tools by redeploying existing probes. The enhanced view of the network that thorough visibility provides will also minimize the time taken to identify and resolve issues, reducing the cost of incident resolution in the long run.

The COVID Catalyst

While 5G has been on the horizon for a number of years, the COVID-19 pandemic has acted as a powerful catalyst for deployment. According to Nokia research, the requirements born out of the pandemic, such as remote working and the “Zoom boom,” fit well with its digitization and analytics capabilities. With remote working set to remain a priority for most businesses as we move forward, it has never been more important to invest in connectivity. Service providers should therefore focus on prioritizing network monitoring and visibility to ensure they can offer 5G connectivity without the risk of detrimental performance or security issues.

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