We’re only halfway through 2019, and it’s already shaping up to be a promising year for 5G. Verizon, AT&T and Sprint have launched 5G networks in select areas in the US; Swisscom is offering commercial 5G services in major towns and cities in Switzerland; EE switched on 5G in a number of city districts last month; and South Korea’s SK Telecom, KT, and LG Uplus all announced their first 5G subscribers in April.
However, getting subscribers’ buy-in for 5G is just one part of the puzzle. While live-streaming and AR gaming via your smartphone are impressive, it’ll be the huge range of IoT and IoT use cases which will really drive the commercial development of 5G. Different vertical sectors and different use cases will require different types of connectivity, and operators will be contractually obliged to ensure that they deliver on these demands. Customers (and their end-users) will expect operators to effectively support massive machine type communications (mMTC), enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), and ultra-reliable low latency communications (URLLC).
The only way that operators will be able to deliver on service-level agreements, ensure that networks will be optimized for 5G, and guarantee the massively diverse IoT ecosystem runs effectively, is via network slicing.
What is network slicing?
Network slicing is an independent end-to-end network that runs on a shared, virtual infrastructure, and can serve the demands and functions of multiple (specific) 5G use cases or communication types. Think of it like a police escort creating a clear path through congested traffic. The path is clear and tailored to the specific need of the police escort – i.e. to traverse a busy junction rapidly, reliably and seamlessly, with other vehicles prioritising the escort over their own movements.
Why test network slicing now?
5G deployments are still few and far between, so operators should use this current period to test and assure the architectures and approaches which will be so vital to its success across different vertical markets and customer segments. When testing network slicing, operators must consider:
Does each network slice select the correct network nodes (AMF, access and mobility management function; SMF, session management function; and UPF, user plane function, are all new with 5G networks)?
Does the function of the network slice work correctly?
Can the network support the volume and variety of systems and devices which characterise 5G networks?
Testing a 5G network loaded with multiple types of data traffic in a real-world scenario is near impossible. Imagine trying to test a URLLC use case like connected cars, for instance, which will involve a network slice supporting thousands of vehicles and ensuring their safe, regulation-complying movement within smart city environments.
How can operators test network slicing effectively?
For operators to prepare themselves for the 5G use cases of the future they must test network slicing in a virtual, lab environment. VIAVI Solutions has developed end-to-end, RANtoCore test and validation solutions capable of emulating the 5G core network as a whole, individual nodes such as the UPF, SMF, AMF as well as multiple other functions.
Combining TeraVM and TM500 provides operators with a solution to the network slicing challenge, which is unique in the T&M industry, enabling service providers to ready their networks for 5G, get ahead of the competition, and future-proof their business.
To find out more about the importance of testing network slicing, learn how VIAVI is supporting major operators globally, and discover the benefits of partnering with us, head to our dedicated whitepaper. Download the Whitepaper
We are excited to announce that CRN®, a brand of The Channel Company, has named Carol Ann McKeown and Maribel Ortiz to its prestigious 2019 Women of the Channel list. The leaders on this annual list are from all areas of the IT channel ecosystem; representing technology suppliers, distributors, solution providers, and other IT organizations. Each is recognized for her contributions to channel advocacy, channel growth and visionary leadership.
CRN editors choose the list from a multitude of channel leadership applicants and selected the final honorees based on their professional accomplishments, demonstrated expertise, and ongoing dedication to the IT channel.
This year, Carol Ann has been focused on encouraging VIAVI global partners to adopt digital marketing best practices across their marketing and sales business. Transitioning our channel to digital marketing is a multi-year journey. Carol Ann began this journey by partnering with the VIAVI Sales Enablement team to provide marketing training at our regional sales conferences to help partners learn about the value of digital marketing and highlight use cases to demonstrate successful examples. While partners will always spend on events, we are transitioning them to focus less on trade shows and build branded customer seminars that bring more value. In addition, she has invested in our automated marketing platform, Velocity Marketing Express, that enables partners to run digital campaigns at no cost to them. Finally, we have utilized our corporate SEO/SEM resources to work individually with partners to help them understand and invest in SEO/SEM efforts where it makes sense in the market.
In the past year, Maribel has lead a global initiative to implement the VIAVI end customer vertical market standardization which has enabled us to better monitor the progress of real time growth initiatives, increased our cross-selling potential and defined targeted channel goals and metrics. Together with our global team, she has participated in further enhancing and developing our current Velocity Partner Program to enable the success of our partners by evolving our MDF program to become more efficient and secure higher ROI for partners and VIAVI. In EMEA, she has consolidated the value-added Master Distributor model in our Telecom Business and completed the creation of the Enterprise and Data Center partner network enabling double digit growth.
“CRN’s 2019 Women of the Channel list honors influential leaders who are accelerating channel growth through mutually-beneficial partnerships, incredible leadership, strategic vision, and unique contributions in their field,” said Bob Skelley, CEO of The Channel Company. “This accomplished group of leaders is driving channel success and we are proud to honor their achievements.”
VIAVI and its partners have truly benefited from Carol Ann and Maribel’s desire to create a successful channel partner program and we are extremely excited to see them receive this industry recognition.
The 2019 Women of the Channel list will be featured in the June issue of CRN Magazine and online at www.CRN.com/wotc.
The UK government has recently permitted the use of Huawei technology in the nation’s mobile networks (albeit, the radio access network or “non-core”). Without getting caught up in a debate about security, we should focus on what this signifies to the industry; that the UK is serious about 5G, and does not want to limit its options of technology suppliers in the race for 5G commercialisation.
The UK has maintained its focus on 5G development for a number of years. In 2015, the 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC), which has received considerable government funding, was opened at the University of Surrey. Since then it has supported pioneering research into the benefits of, and the obstacles preventing, the adoption of 5G technology. Supported by consultants, such as our very own Dr Li-Ke Huang and major telcos such as EE, Vodafone and Samsung, 5GIC epitomises the UK’s commitment to 5G.
However, the government’s investment in 5G doesn’t stop there. In March 2018, it announced the winners of a 5G test bed and trials competition, which saw a number of other enterprises, universities and authorities receive grants of between £2 million and £5 million to test 5G applications. In November, almost £7 billion was earmarked by the government to make 5G and fibre roll-out a reality over the next 10 to 15 years. It’s also worth noting that the UK was quick off the mark to auction 5G spectrum, a process which started in March last year.
The UK has clearly demonstrated its continued dedication to becoming a 5G leader. However, last week’s news regarding Huawei was a big wake-up call to technology firms, highlighting the importance of demonstrating their security credentials in order to play a role in the nation’s new next generation networks. Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei, Samsung and ZTE are among the major network equipment manufacturers (NEMs) that will be considered for 5G networks. However, it is very common for the NEMs to white label technology from other technology vendors. The objective for these vendors is to prove to both the NEMs and the mobile operators that their technology can make a difference; and do so quickly, in line with the UK government’s ambitious plans.
Telcos warm to multi-vendor technology
Mobile operators are increasingly open to using network hardware and software from multiple technology providers within their networks – giving them a selection of best in-class solutions. Open initiatives such as openRAN (oRAN) and Telecom Infra Project (TIP) are providing operators with blueprints for the implementation of multi-vendor technology across the network. This approach can lead to improved flexibility, scalability and cost saving for operators, and new opportunities for vendors, big and small.
With the first wave of 5G networks focussed on non-standalone technology – i.e. networks that connect to new 5G radios and the LTE core – there is an opportunity for RAN vendors to showcase their credentials in this first wave of 5G deployments. To do this successfully they must test and validate their technology against a range of real-world 5G applications.
A testing time for 5G vendors
5G technology presents a range of new innovations, from the use of active antennas, to MIMO and 3D beamforming, software defined components, and large carrier bandwidths. However, these innovations also bring new challenges when it comes to verifying the performance of the technology.
Massive MIMO, for example, requires the use of large number of antenna elements which will add a huge amount of complexity for performance testing and validating the radio frequency environment. The purpose of Massive MIMO is to help deliver high data throughput to large number of users. To achieve this requires performance testing under realistic conditions, with large number of end user devices attached to the network. New technology, such as Massive MIMO, must not only be tested in silos, but also run against a set of core network test cases within a loaded network environment.
It is now vital that 5G manufacturers test their technology in a lab before bringing it to market to account for any environmental factors that may affect the performance in a live network. If they can prove that the technology has undergone scrutinous validation at scale with a high number of both 4G and 5G carriers, under real-word conditions without QoE degradation, they will be considered favourably by operators, or the NEMs, in their network plans.
With telcos now moving from testing to field trials, technology vendors of all sizes must quickly look to offer future-proof high performance and differentiated propositions. Validating technology against live 5G applications is an important means of proving that it is primed for today’s networks. As a pioneer in test and measurement equipment and dedicated to the development and monetisation of network services, VIAVI is the ideal partner for technology vendors as they look to enter the 5G network market. VIAVI can help these businesses address challenges now – and do so simply, quickly, and cost-effectively – allowing them to demonstrate that they can make a difference in operator networks as they race towards commercialisation. VIAVI has experience in working with operators and with all the major NEMS around the world, it is best placed to validate an operator’s network from end-to-end ensuring the best performance irrespective of the RAN supplier, and core network components vendors. VIAVI can also ensure that legacy 4G services and KPIs are not compromised, especially with new low complexity devices and enhancements such as the wave of Rel-14+ Cat-M and NB-IOT. This becomes vital as 4/4.5 to 5G interactions grow and network complexity increases.
Our team is excited to represent Viavi Solutions during an industy (IT and cloud-focused) event, VMworld, in San Francisco at booth #2235. We’ll be showcasing our latest innovation – the GigaStor Software Edition designed for managing performance in virtual, cloud, and remote environments.
Here are some topline thoughts about why this product matters for our customers and core technologies trending today, what a great time it is for the industry and to be Viavi!
For starters, the solution is able to deliver quick and accurate troubleshooting and assurance in next generation network architecture. As networks become virtualized and automated through SDN initiatives, performance monitoring tools need to evolve or network teams risk losing complete visibility into user experience and missing performance problems. With GigaStor Software, engineers have real-time insight to assess user experience in these environments, and proactively identify application problems before they impact the user.
“GigaStor Software Edition helps engineers troubleshoot with confidence in virtual and cloud environments by having all the traffic retained for resolving any challenge and expert analytics …leading to quick resolution.”
With the explosion of online applications and mobile devices, the role of cloud and virtualization will increase in importance. And, enterprises and services providers will be more focused on guaranteeing around-the-clock availability or risk losing customers. With downtime costing companies $300K per hour or $5,600/minute, the solution that solves the problem the fastest will get the business. Walking the show floor at VMworld, IT engineers will be looking for solutions like GigaStor Software that help ensure quality network and services, as well as speed and accuracy when enabling advanced networks for their customers.
And, what a great time to be Viavi Solutions! Our focus on achieving visibility regardless of the environment and delivering real-time actionable insights in a cost-effective solution means our customers are going to be able to guarantee high levels of service and meet customer expectations without breaking the bank. GigaStor Software Edition helps engineers troubleshoot with confidence in virtual and cloud environments by having all the traffic retained for resolving any challenge and expert analytics that lead to quick resolution.
Steve Brown, Director, Enterprise Solutions Marketing, Viavi Solutions
AI has been touted as the panacea to operators’ network complexity woes. By deploying AI applications for the radio access network (RAN), it’s hoped that operators will be able to automate and optimize base station processes. Many operators are already investing in the technology: spending on AI-driven network management software is forecast to grow to more than $1.9 billion 2021, while annual outlay on AI network operations solutions is expected to amount to $7.4 billion by 2025. Yet, while artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have been talked up in telecoms, there’s been far less noise around validating the performance of these approaches.
Next generation networks = next level of complexity
Next generation networks will be tasked with enabling a broad spectrum of 5G use cases and a huge number of diverse end-points. Increasing deployment of network functions virtualization and software-defined networking will strain legacy networks and throw up integration challenges. Finally, next-generation telecoms infrastructure must also support technologies like millimetre wave, carrier aggregation, massive MIMO, and beamforming – with each optimized to deliver the best possible network performance and highest quality end-user experience.
Just as we’re seeing the emergence of 5G use cases and deployments, so too are we seeing AI solutions discussed, marketed and adopted to ensure networks continue to perform – for both end-users and operators’ revenues. Ericsson, for example, recently announced it had joined the O-RAN Alliance, where it will pursue research on the open interworking between RAN and network orchestration and automation, with a focus on AI-enabled automation and optimization. Nokia, meanwhile, launched its Cognitive Collaboration Hubs just in time for MWC19, which will help support its efforts to improve 5G network planning (including massive MIMO and beamforming configuration) using ML.
Both of these technologies – massive MIMO and beamforming – are crucial in delivering dynamic user-based coverage for 5G radio access networks. Beamforming is the ability to generate and shape multiple beams using a much larger antenna array by manipulating the signals and directing energy to an end-user’s specific service area. This reduces interference and optimizes the use of RF spectrum.
As the industry migrates to 5G, the number of antennas – and therefore beams – involved in network architectures will multiply, creating further complexities in scheduling and configuration. Failure to optimize beamforming can affect the quality of end-user experience, so it’s little surprise that a growing number of operators are looking to implement AI solutions at base-station level, to ensure maximum throughput.
Validating the future of 5G networks
However, while it may seem that everyone’s talking about AI, it appears very few are discussing AI validation. Adopting AI for the RAN – with all the promised benefits we’re hearing from vendors – will be a considerable investment for operators. AI deployed in the RAN is still in its relative infancy, with little in the way of data-supported results into its performance. As such, how can operators be sure that the ‘AI-optimized’ beamforming is actually delivering the best results? How can they be certain that they’re getting the return on their AI spend?
VIAVI Solutions is already helping operators validate over-the-air performance. Our CellAdvisor 5G features beam analyzer functionality, which assesses individual beam IDs, power level, and corresponding signal-to-noise ratios. It also offers a 5G route map for coverage verification, mapping in real time the physical cell identity and beam strength, as well as providing coverage data for post-processing.
Our years of R&D and leadership in this field means we know exactly what the optimum beamforming performance looks like. This means we also know exactly when, why and to what extent operators are not achieving maximum network performance and throughput. VIAVI Solutions can validate the RAN to ensure that AI solutions are delivering what vendors are promising, referencing the performance of RAN elements against established benchmarks.
This process can be done in the lab, using our TM500 network testing solution. The TM500 can validate the performance of AI repeatedly, which is particularly important following software upgrades to the RAN, for bug fixing and maintenance. The TM500 can be used in this scenario to ensure that KPIs defined for AI performance continue to be accurate and remain unchanged.
The TM500 also provides scalability, supporting a huge number of UEs in a virtualized environment. The alternative (testing beamforming in the field with real UEs, the approach taken by many operators) is complex, especially when testing real-world scenarios like connected cars in a smart city.
AI deployments for the RAN may be in their early stages, but VIAVI Solutions’ expertise and product development means we’re ahead of the game. By validating the performance of AI-enabled beamforming, we’re able to support operators as they transform their networks and ready their businesses for the 5G future.
With so many KPIs and metrics for tracking security and performance over networks, clouds, clients, and applications, it’s difficult to see how SecOps and NetOps engineers ever rise above the noise.
VIAVI Solutions takes a different approach to eliminate the noise and improve engineer effectiveness in solving issues. An example of this in Observer is the End-User Experience (EUE) Score powered by machine learning, or, as Gartner describes it: Artificial Intelligence for IT Operations (AIOps).
Operations teams need to quickly understand which users are negatively impacted by degraded services and—more important—where the problem root cause resides. What they don’t want is a bunch of flashing false-positive red indicators (aka…noise) or nagging doubts about missing real service problems (false negatives). This is where the Observer EUE Score comes to the rescue.
The EUE Score analyzes every network conversation in real-time by leveraging sophisticated analytics that automatically learn the unique characteristics of your environment, adjusting scores accordingly to reflect what the actual user is experiencing. Real problems are instantly detected, and the noise silenced.
To show how End-User Experience Score assessment improves when machine learning is applied to an IT environment and application, let’s look at an example. The machine learning function was temporarily disabled in the screen shot below to illustrate the EUE score without machine learning. In the second image, machine learning has been activated to provide a more accurate view of user experience.
Figure 1 – EUE Score Without Machine Learning
Figure 1 illustrates an encrypted conversation with an End-User Experience Score of 3.0 (critical), and a corresponding domain problem call out tied to the server. It’s important to note that end-user experience scoring algorithms do not require access to the encrypted payload data. The associated ladder diagram on the right is a detailed visualization of the conversations.
Upon further analysis of the specific conditions of this application environment, the performance issues didn’t impact user experience to the degree implied by the score in the above screen shot. While the score should have reflected degraded performance, it did not merit a critical score (false positive).
In the upcoming Figure 2 where machine learning has been activated the impact of performance degradation on user experience is accurately assessed.
Figure 2 – EUE Score with Machine Learning Activated
This screen shot shows the same transaction scored using machine learning. In this case, the algorithm automatically “learned” (from this and previous conversations) that the observed application behavior represented only minor degradation in the real-world user experience (from a “perfect” score of 10 to 8.1) It was likely imperceptible by the user. A score of 8.1 is not perfect, but it isn’t a critical issue that needs immediate action. Good-bye false alarms!
Key takeaway: Today’s operations teams must be efficient and show bottom-line effectiveness. To accomplish this, they need definitive answers to:
Is there a problem?
Where is it located?
What is the resolution?
That’s what the Observer End-User Experience Score delivers; visibility into real issues and how to solve them. Millions of network conversations automatically can be analyzed and scored pointing operations teams to ONLY those transactions where there is a problem. Why get distracted by the noise when you can stop it?
Learn more about the EUE Score from this solution brief. Then contact your VIAVI rep for an end-user experience demonstration in your environment.
We are excited to announce that CRN®, has recognized VIAVI in its 2019 Partner Program Guide. This annual guide identifies the strongest and most successful partner programs in the channel today, offered by the top technology suppliers for IT products and services.
To assemble the guide, The Channel Company’s research team assessed each supplier’s partner program based on investments in program offerings, partner profitability, partner training, education and support, marketing programs and resources, sales support, and communication.
The VIAVI Velocity Partner Program is built on a strong technology foundation and backed by a commitment to a best-in-class partner model. The program empowers a global network of channel partners, resellers and distributors with incentives, promotions and tools to grow business amid industry migration to cloud, virtualization and software-defined networking.
“With new technologies emerging every year, evaluating which IT vendors to partner with grows increasingly more complex for solution providers,” said Bob Skelley, CEO, The Channel Company. “We are proud the CRN Partner Program Guide has become the trusted resource to identify the most rewarding partner programs and provides crucial insight into their strengths and benefits for the channel.”
The 2019 Partner Program Guide will be featured in the April issue of CRN and online at www.CRN.com/ppg.
MWC19 was undoubtedly the year of 5G: 5G-enabled handsets were on show, as were 5G modems, 5G broadcasts, use cases – including a demo of live tele-monitored surgery over 5G – plus a whole host of network equipment.
VIAVI too used MWC19 as an opportunity to show off some impressive kit, and to demonstrate to delegates, partners and prospects just how far we’ve come in the space of 12 months. In case you missed it, here’s a wrap-up of VIAVI’s demos:
Lab to field testing
VIAVI is currently delivering 5G products to all the major NEMs and operators, and believe we’re the only partner capable of delivering a complete testing solution, from the lab to the field to backhaul, placing us way ahead of the closest competition.
At MWC19 Barcelona, we demonstrated our expertise in this area with two demos. The first showed how CellAdvisor5G combined with TM500 can be used in the lab environment to speed up trouble-shooting in base station testing and accelerate lab pre-verification checks. It can identify bottlenecks on the network and detect when its underperforming, resulting in better, more consistent throughput to the device.
By combining the power of TM500 and CellAdvisor5G, NEMs and service providers can bring the benefits of live test equipment into the carefully controlled set-up of the lab environment, reducing the costs and complexities of network testing and validation, and – crucially – enabling operators to deliver real 5G use cases to market more quickly.
The second of our lab to field demos focused on how enhanced mobile can will support the delivery of 4K video and – more specifically – how TM500 can support the demand for ultra-high capacity data delivery and data-intensive mobile services. With TM500, VIAVI was the first to offer carrier aggregation on a 4G test mobile, with the solution supporting higher-order carrier aggregation for NSA and delivering an industry-first 2.8 Gbps data throughput. TM500 accurately replicates real-world user behaviour profiles such as downloading and streaming 4K video, allowing operators to overcome challenges in the lab environment, hastening time to market for mobile video services.
5G and beyond
Visitors to VIAVI’s stand were able to see our industry-first 5G Massive MIMO system level lab test solution. This marks a paradigm shift in 5G Massive MIMO system level validation in the lab and enables test cases that were previously not possible.
VIAVI also gave an overview of our key role in the EU’s Horizon 2020 initiative. The EU has dedicated almost €80 billion of funding (2014 to 2020) to Horizon 2020, and at MWC19 we showed visitors how this money has been put to good use.
We’re supporting test and development tools for the Internet of Radio-Light (IoRL) project. Alongside numerous partners, we’re working to develop a safer, more secure, customizable and intelligent in-building network which delivers increased throughput, whilst minimizing interference. How? Using a light-based communication system which consumes ten times less energy to operate than WiFi, and has already been successfully trialled in France.
Impact of rogue IoT devices attacking a network
Before MWC Barcelona we examined the growing threat posed by IoT end-points and 5G, so while at the show, we demonstrated what we’re doing to help network service providers to tackle this. Our TeraVM solution was used to highlight the impact of rogue IoT application traffic on a 5G mobile core network in a virtualized environment.
TeraVM supports massive scaling: at MWC, visitors to our stand witnessed a test scenario which saw 200,000 LTE subscribers, 200,000 5G subscribers and 200,000 IoT devices attached to a network. After 30 seconds, we unleashed 200,000 (simulated) rogue IoT devices, highlighting the potential damage of a cyber attack. It showed the effect on subscribers’ quality of experience, allowing operators to identify points of weakness on their networks, and implement more stringent security measures, and guarantee robust, low-risk networks for a successful 5G future (and for many satisfied subscribers!).
Driving V2X communications forward
V2X (or ‘vehicle-to-everything’, the communication between connected vehicles and their surrounding environment) connectivity is the core component of the automotive industry of the future. It’ll ensure connected vehicles travel safely and navigate accurately, while reducing fuel consumption and enhancing the on-board experience.
At MWC Barcelona, we showed how our 5G Research Platform is being used to emulate the dynamic field environment of the connected car ecosystem and enabling the development of autonomous vehicles. Along with our partner Telefonica, we showcased an autonomous car use case, with virtual test modelling and visualisation of road, traffic and wireless topology. We believe this is the most advanced URLLC demo in the industry, meeting the demanding requirements of 5G NR Release-15 and 16.
NITRO Mobile and NITRO GEO
On the assurance and visibility side, VIAVI showcased NITRO Mobile, our overall intelligence, assurance, and optimization solution. NITRO Mobile captures, locates, and analyzes all mobile events across the RF, RAN, xHaul and core, providing operators with unprecedented insight to optimize the customer experience and drive new revenue streams.
We also demonstrated NITRO GEO, which captures, locates, stores, and analyzes data from all subscriber events, giving operators a rich source of app-aware insight to significantly improve network performance and enrich the QoE. This subscriber-centric, app-aware intelligence creates a true understanding of the customer experience, enabling monetization of the network and delivering automated network optimization.
We’ll be at MWC Shanghai in June, where our industry-leading solutions will once again be accessible to visitors to our stand. In the meantime, we’ll continue to innovate in the test and measurement space, supporting our customers and partners to prepare and plan for a 5G future, while seeing strong returns on their tech investments. Get in touch if you want to find out more.
Our recent webinar with Light Reading, Lessons Learned: Efficient Deployment & Maintenance of FTTH/PON Networks, garnered several questions from the attendees. We thought that even those who may not have caught the live webinar might benefit from this Q&A. If you’d like to see the webinar recording, please visit the Light Reading Testapedia page.
Q. Is there a certification/training program to ensure that installation is done according to your standards?
A. We have various partners who can provide training. Please contact VIAVI at firstname.lastname@example.org for recommendations in your region. We also have a library of Quick Tip videos on our website that you can browse for more information.
Q. How are the splitter secured (physically)?
A. Splitters are usually mounted on backplanes or frames in cabinets that are securely locked with a key.
Q. What is a “5G-PON”? Is it an ITU (e.g., G.984 or G.989) or IEEE PON that is supporting 5G use cases?
A. To cover the needs of the 5G Wireless standard, data could be transmitted over a PON infrastructure to remote radio heads achieving speeds of up to 10 Gbps with today’s standards, or higher with next generation PON standards like NG-PON2.
Q. How is cleanliness of connectors insured after the installation? How do you cope with the high humidity areas, or high dry areas?
A. Once two connectors are matted, the high pressure keeps them connected. If the connector is not plugged to a piece of equipment or another connector yet, it must be re-inspected before the final connection. This “Inspect Before You Connect” web page has a series of videos that will walk you through best practices and considerations for fiber connection inspection and cleaning.
Q. Any major advantages of cascaded split?
A. It depends on the network topology and density. If the network is dense, like in cities (apartment buildings, etc.), then a single split is better. In less dense area covering longer distances a cascaded split is commonly used.
Q. Would you comment on the operator workforce challenges presented as next generation PONs (e.g., G.989) begin supporting the convergence of traditional residential services, business services, and wireless front/backhaul for emerging 5G use cases? (Operators have traditionally used separate workforces for these commercial domains, which could mean lots of hands touching the OSP in the future, perhaps impacting reliability.)
A. I agree this is becoming a real challenge. Fiber cannot be handled like copper. Proper care of the cable routing, connectors and other passive components is necessary and critical. Some operators have told us they have three times more issues with FTTH compared to DSL.
Q. Have you considered using MPO connectors pigtails and splice boxes to reduce the number of connectors tested?
A. We have heard of some networks where MPO connectors are being adopted for that very reason and it is a great idea to automate the measurement of multiple fibers via MPO. VIAVI offers an MPO switch than can be used with our OTDRs plus a simple software app to automate the test and certification of MPO fibers. We also have the MPO inspection piece covered with a fully automated fiber scope that can check and cert (pass/fail) a 12 fiber MPO in about 12 seconds. You can learn more on our website about Testing Parallel Optics like MPO.
Q. Do you recommend the operator create a “birth certificate” at the time of acceptance testing that can be used in the future as a benchmark to determine ODN degradations?
A. Definitely, yes. And with the new cloud database solutions (such as VIAVI StrataSync), it is easier to handle larger volumes of fiber test results and perform analytics to anticipate eventual network physical degradation.
Q. What is the recommend launch cable length for characterize first and last connector?
A. It mainly depends on the dead zones (ADZ) of the OTDR and if a multi-pulse function is available. With a multi-pulse function, it can be possible to look at events very close to an OTDR, even if the link under test is very long. VIAVI OTDRs have a feature called SmartAcq to do just this, you can read about it in this fiber testing blog post. As for launch cable length, we’d recommend a minimum 20m launch cable when using the multi-pulse function.
Q. What will be the Cable Management system to use in this case? Are you able to recommend one?
A. There are a number of cable management systems available today, we don’t have preference but do recommend use of these systems.
Q. Why is it recommended to use 1550nm wavelength rather than 1490 nm on GPON for acceptance testing? Is this also preferred for service activation?
A. We prepared a PON white paper about this, but in short, for PON fiber-link construction qualification using OTDRs and/or loss test sets, the traditional 1310/1550nm wavelength solutions provide equal value as 1490nm. However, testing at 1490nm with a PON-selective power meter is essential for network turn-up and installation troubleshooting.
Q. For fiber characterization, is it necessary to have an OTDR with 1310 and 1550 nm or could an OTDR with just 1650nm do?
A. Fiber characterization is usually performed at two wavelengths: 1310 & 1550nm. Because of the difference of the fiber characteristics at those wavelengths, it gives you the ability to detect bends.
Q. To measure the GPON, you recommend the Smart OTDR or a specific module?
A. For standard GPON up to 1×64 split, the SmartOTDR 100B is perfect.
Q. Who certifies the measurements and the network?
A. This is usually the contractor or the construction crew’s responsibility, typically they will have to provide certification of the network build to the owner/operator in order to get paid.
Q. Why the Amplifiers are not used in GPON?
A. Optical amplifiers only work in the C-band near 1550nm, also PON = Passive Optical Network, by design they do not contain any active elements.
Q. I am missing fault localization. This would help in fast recovery of service.
ONMSi Remote Monitoring
A. OTDRs will provide you with distance to fault information and can be used on a live network, you just need to troubleshoot at a different wavelength to the live service. Typically, 1625 or 1650nm is used. If you’re thinking of a more proactive notification and dispatching a tech directly to the fault location then a fiber monitoring system is what you’ll need (such as our ONMSi or SmartOTU solution). Continuous monitoring combined with an accurate plant map will allow you to get pro-active notifications whenever a degradation or outage occurs including the GPS location.
Q. Does the reflector contain a filter to isolate 1650, so it is the only lambda reflected? how much does a reflector cost per ONT?
A. ITU standard specifies that ONT must have built-in isolation against U band (>1625nm). FYI Reflector isolation is typically 20dB. So you are correct, a reflector isolates and returns a specific wavelength while allowing up and downstream service wavelengths to pass. This allows a fiber monitoring system (such as our ONMSi or SmartOTU solution) to operate on a live network without disrupting services. Reflector cost is usually $10 USD for a large deployment (hundreds of thousands of units).
Q. What is the function of reflectors?
A. The reflector is necessary when a PON is measured from the central office (feeder). It is used for the measurement of insertion loss between the central office (OLT location) and the ONT (Home) or any other points after the splitter. A reflector is used in a subscriber’s home or office near to the ONT and allows a fiber monitoring system (such as our ONMSi or SmartOTU solution) to better locate that ONT on the fiber plant. You can monitor for the presence of the reflector to check the fiber link is still there and there are no breaks, and analyze the reflected peak value for loss measurement.
Q. By fiber it is possible to transmit speeds in Tb/s? What are the limitations?
A. Theoretically fiber has the capability/capacity to do this however, the transmit and receive equipment is the limitation. At some point (data rate) they cannot differentiate the 0 from the 1, but there are improvements being made to transmission equipment all the time.
Q. What manufacturer and model OTDR do you recommend?
The growth of MPO adoption in the past few years is changing the game for network architectures around the world. In a previous blog, 5 Things to Know Before Working with Multi-Fiber MPO Connectors, I referenced some trends and growth projections for MPO connectivity from a recent survey by VIAVI Solutions that polled hundreds of respondents who either design or install networks with MPO connections. With most people expecting their work with MPO to increase by over 20% in the next three years, it’s no surprise that testing MPO has become a popular topic in fiber networks of all kinds, including Wireless Carriers, Network Service Providers, Cable MSO’s, Enterprise Data Centers, Aerospace, and more.
While the previous blog introduced some key things to help technicians prepare for working with MPO, this one provides more insight from experienced technicians by highlighting some of the MPO testing challenges they are facing and how they can be overcome. At VIAVI, we constantly hear from contractors who are overwhelmed with MPO testing. They realize that using MPO connections has design and deployment advantages over typical single or duplex fiber connections but are frustrated and overwhelmed when it comes to testing multi-fiber connections. Here are the top 3 challenges that the survey respondents are facing when testing MPO connectivity:
TIME IT TAKES TO TEST ALL FIBERS
With a typical MPO connector utilizing 8, 12, or even 24 fibers, that means that a lot more fibers are being tested in a single connector. If a traditional “single fiber” test instrument is used, then additional break-out/fan-out cable must be added that breaks out each fiber of the MPO connector at one end to individual single-fiber connectors at the other end.
The fibers are then individually tested, one-by-one. They cannot be simultaneously tested unless you use multiple test instruments (which is cumbersome and expensive). Adding break-out cables also requires more steps in the testing process; including inspecting, cleaning, and re-inspecting end faces, performing additional referencing, and transporting additional equipment. For any contractor running a successful business, time is money, and they are finding that their “single-fiber” test tools are costing them more than they can afford.
DIFFICULTY KEEPING MPO END FACES CLEAN
At VIAVI, we have been actively educating the industry for years about the importance of ensuring clean fiber connections. Our “Inspect Before You Connect” message has been adopted by manufacturers, installers, and operators throughout the world. The technicians working with MPO connections are finding that these multi-fiber connectors are much more difficult to keep clean than typical single-fiber connectors like LC or SC. In our video series Essentials of Multi-Fiber MPO Testing, episode 2: Dealing with Contamination on MPO Connectors explains the reasons why MPO connectors become so easily contaminated (e.g. more fibers on the end face, a larger surface area, increased exposure to the bulkhead, etc.) and how technicians can implement proactive inspection practices using purpose built inspection tools like the FiberChek Sidewinder to quickly scan all of the fibers in a multi-fiber connector and evaluate the condition of all the fibers present.
COMPLEXITIES USING FAN-OUT CABLES TO TEST ALL FIBERS
As previously mentioned, if a technician is using a traditional “single-fiber” test instrument, then they need to connect additional break-out/fan-out cables to the MPO connectors at the end of a link. In addition to the time-consuming nature associated with this, technicians find this adds further complexities to the process. These fan-out cables frequently become a tangled mess during the test process and technicians often struggle to determine which break-out strand corresponds to which fiber. Added labeling steps are often incorporated to try and mitigate confusion. In addition to labeling and identification, maintaining the performance quality over time requires proper care with end face inspection and cleaning. These cables must be treated like reference cables, but with more end faces to care for. If one dust cap gets lost, the exposed end can get damaged, making the entire cable useless.
Clearly, Multi-Fiber MPO connectors have a big future ahead. As fiber network designs are changing to support 25G, 40G, 100G, and beyond, the test solutions also need to change. While there may be ways to use legacy “single fiber” tools for MPO testing, they are just too slow, cumbersome and complex to support the testing demands while maintaining installation and service costs. For more information about Testing Parallel Optics, download our White Paper: Testing Parallel Optics or visit us online at www.viavisolutions.com/mpo