Spirent Report: 5G Activity Accelerates as Operators Look to Differentiate

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Spirent Communications, a provider of test, assurance and analytics solutions for next-generation devices and networks, released its 5G outlook report, based on analysis from over 600 global 5G engagements. The “5G 2021: Market Drivers, Insights & Consideration” report provides insights from across the 5G eco-system on the current status of 5G, illustrating the accelerated timetables from service providers in upgrading to 5G standalone (SA) with the new 5G Core and revealing how 5G is driving new initiatives and sector engagements.

“2020 was certainly a year to remember, not just because of the unprecedented challenges presented by COVID-19, but also because of the rapid development for the telecom industry,” said Spirent Head of 5G Strategy, Steve Douglas. “Telecom is keeping its sights firmly focused on 5G’s future, not in spite of the challenges of the pandemic, but because of them, and our latest report gives an unparalleled view of the current status of 5G and the trends we’re seeing for the year ahead, based on the investments, research, testing and innovation by the leading 5G players.”

Key findings from the Spirent report include:

  • 5G SA core timetables accelerated rapidly: 5G activity surged in 2020 with accelerated timetables from service providers to deliver 5G SA core deployments, following non-standalone’s (NSAs) inability to really wow customers and deliver a solid new revenue proposition. Service Provider engagement increased nearly 50% as Service Assurance integration ramped up, and leading operators accelerated 5G standalone network strategies and new 5G core deployments.
  • Because 5G is moving so fast, operators are turning to partners to deliver key elements: Through service contracts, elements that would previously have been delivered inhouse are now being delivered by trusted partners, as operators need to be able to move quickly to keep up with the complexity of 5G and the accelerated timetables.
  • 5G is driving new initiatives and engagements: The year saw notable growth in engagements with government, military and academia around 5G experimentation and security initiatives, as governments explore new use cases. Other notable initiatives include Cloud hyperscalers exploring operator edge partnerships, Open RAN being explored in support of supply chain diversity initiatives, and multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) accelerating their plans for 5G.
  • Automated Assurance and 5G are the new dynamic duo: Whether it was a core network buildout, lab certification, or new service delivered, 5G plus Automated Assurance were the dynamic duo that customers turned to as they sought to continue pushing forward with their 5G plans, with 80% of Spirent’s assurance business focused on 5G work.
  • The trend of accelerated timetables is here to stay: While the pandemic has undoubtedly accelerated 5G timetables, it seems likely this accelerated trend is here to stay.

“In many ways, the pandemic has accelerated trends that we hadn’t anticipated gaining steam for at least another couple of years,” said Douglas, “whether fixed wireless access driven by working from home, or automation required to safely conduct field testing with limited personnel. While there were delays, by and large 5G powered ahead and remained in control of its destiny.”

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