VIAVI shares lessons learned from U.S. 5G rollouts

TowerXchange interviews VIAVI Solutions’ Jim Neuens

Jim Neuens

Read this article to learn:

  • VIAVI's services and expertise in the telecoms sector
  • How the challenges of deploying and testing networks are evolving
  • How VIAVI's supports towercos as they look to meet customer requirements
  • Best practice in test process automation
  • What differentiates VIAVI from competitors in the market

As the pace of 5G deployments continues to accelerate worldwide, market opportunities are beginning to heat up across the Americas. How can tower companies and carriers in the CALA region learn from advances made in the U.S. and better prepare for the future? To better understand the opportunities — and the challenges — that 5G deployments pose, TowerXchange spoke with Jim Neuens, Vice President and General Manager of Wireless Instruments for test and measurement at VIAVI Solutions.


TowerXchange: How does VIAVI Solutions fit into the telecoms ecosystem?

Jim Neuens, Vice President and General Manager – Wireless Instruments, VIAVI: VIAVI Solutions is a global provider of network test, measurement, optimisation and assurance solutions for every stage of the network lifecycle, from the lab to the field. With our industry-leading automation capabilities, we help communications service providers, tower companies and network equipment manufacturers command the 5G network, whether they are focused on fibre infrastructure test and validation, antenna alignment, RF interference or deploying new technologies like Open RAN.


TowerXchange: How are the challenges of deploying and testing networks evolving and becoming more complex in light of 5G and new network architectures such as Open RAN?

Jim Neuens, Vice President and General Manager – Wireless Instruments, VIAVI: The challenge of 5G technology cuts across all aspects of the network – the core, transport, RAN, and the underlying fibre infrastructure and associated protocols. And while 5G offers significant opportunities for value-added services such as Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), Massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC), and Ultra-reliable Low Latency Communications (uRLLC), these services place greater demand on transport network performance and overall network reliability.

With the evolution to 5G, network functions are being pushed to the edge. In order to achieve profitability while delivering a range of diverse 5G use cases, service providers are relying on network functions virtualisation (NFV) for transport and RF functions, as well as network slicing to deliver the scale and performance needed. As a result, network deployments, test and assurance are becoming more and more complex.

Open RAN is designed, ultimately, to remove complexity and reduce costs by enabling flexible, multi-vendor infrastructure. One of the key elements enabling the benefits of Open RAN is a comprehensive approach to test and validation. For example, in an open multi-vendor scenario, it is essential to ensure the disaggregated RAN components (O-CU, O-DU and O-RU) are not impacting network performance. This can be achieved by validating them in the lab environment to make sure the nodes are designed and functioning per O-RAN specifications and are interoperating without causing performance issues. However, scaling the validation to a real-world network environment under traffic loading and with a mix of different traffic types and applications also needs to be performed in order to address failures and meet KPI targets.


TowerXchange: How heavily has VIAVI been involved in working with towercos in network testing? What is driving towercos to become more actively involved in the space and what benefits is this enabling them to deliver to their clients? 

Jim Neuens, Vice President and General Manager – Wireless Instruments, VIAVI: As a trusted network testing partner to leading tower and infrastructure companies, VIAVI helps them to ensure that the fibre and RF elements of a tower build will perform reliably and are ready to accept service at the initial provisioning. This is key to minimising return site visits or repeat work to address cell site issues, which quickly cuts into already thin profit margins, negatively impacting margins.

VIAVI provides a range of tools and solutions that help service providers and tower companies ensure that individual cell sites/towers work flawlessly within the network from antenna alignment, fibre validation and transport testing. All of this is streamlined and enabled by test process automation, enabling tower companies and their contractor ecosystems to do the work quickly, accurately and profitably, meeting the deployment expectations of their service provider customers—all while ensuring that their costs remain under control.
In fact, service providers are increasingly looking to tower and infrastructure companies to own, build, turn-up and maintain cell sites, placing a significant burden on towercos. 5G rollout is ramping up this trend at an unprecedented rate, and it will only continue to accelerate as service providers and enterprises look to compartmentalise investments and reduce risk.


TowerXchange: Getting networks up and running promptly and efficiently is critical. Can you talk us through how VIAVI have fine-tuned the testing process, incorporating automation and streamlining ways of working? What do you think makes the biggest difference?

Jim Neuens, Vice President and General Manager – Wireless Instruments, VIAVI: VIAVI brings nearly 100 years of experience to the test and measurement industry, and our approach is influenced heavily by insights gained while working closely with the world’s leading network equipment manufacturers and service providers, helping them achieve their goals for network reliability, service performance and ultimately, their customers’ satisfaction. VIAVI expertise begins in the lab as tomorrow’s technologies are developed, and we migrate our lab-based testing expertise to the field.

Beyond technical excellence in instrument performance, the key to success today is automating the process for testing in a scalable way that delivers fast, consistent results. VIAVI tools enable even novice technicians to be highly efficient through automation. It brings a streamlined process and fewer tools to juggle—a welcome advantage that helps address safety concerns in challenging work environments .


TowerXchange: What differentiates VIAVI from its competitors in the market?

Jim Neuens, Vice President and General Manager – Wireless Instruments, VIAVI: With a global reach and decades of expertise in the industry, VIAVI is a trusted advisor to service providers, tower companies and network equipment manufacturers. We offer industry-leading products and solutions that cover the full network lifecycle and the wherewithal to help our customers capitalise on their technology investments across the ecosystem. We’ve gained our market-leading innovation and solution effectiveness through close partnerships with our customers. The depth and breadth of our solution portfolio is unparalleled, delivering test, validation and optimisation solutions to address the complete network lifecycle from end to end.

To learn more, don’t miss the upcoming panel discussion “How towercos are enabling 5G rollout and adoption in the U.S. replicable lessons learnt and successes” on July 14 during TowerXchange Meetup Americas 2021.

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