5G and Beyond: The Challenging Road to 6G

How operators need to think about future complexity to assure the next generation of services

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5G is taking off. According to a recent market report, commercial 5G services have already been deployed across more than 1,500 cities in more than 60 countries worldwide. 

As the pace of 5G deployment increases, operators are beginning to shift to cloud-native architectures to meet the needs of customers—a move that brings with it significant complexity. Kubernetes architectures, mandatory encryption, 5G standalone (SA), edge computing, and network slicing are just a few of the areas presenting challenges to the industry. 

To facilitate the introduction of new and profitable services and ensure the best customer and enterprise experience, operators need to design observability and security into the solution from the outset. This means being able to measure end-to-end performance from the application to the network level—in short, what NETSCOUT calls Visibility Without Borders.

Ensuring a solid 5G environment will be instrumental in creating a strong foundation for future innovation. Although 5G may be only in its infancy today, plans are already underway for the next generation of mobile communications—5G-Advanced—and beyond. 5G-Advanced is paving the way to 6G and extends wireless connectivity to nearly every aspect of human and machine interaction. 

However, the evolution from 5G to 6G will be increasingly complex, making it imperative to lay the groundwork for successful deployment. 

5G-Advanced: The Next Logical Step Toward 6G

5G-Advanced networks are predicted to be deployed starting in the next three to five years. Once available, 5G-Advanced is expected to pave the way for greater wireless capabilities that will expand connectivity and introduce a host of innovative, game-changing services for enterprise customers.

This advanced version of 5G will enhance basic radio and system performance while at the same time extending mobile broadband to new types of devices that will facilitate important new use cases. By introducing greater intelligence into the network through the use of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), 5G-Advanced will be able to adapt to its environment, supporting immersive extended reality (XR) experiences; edge computing applications; holographic communications; and exciting new innovations in IoT related to smarter manufacturing, farming, and health-related services—to name just a few.

All of this investment will be crucial for advancing to 6G in the subsequent decade. The industry will need to establish further standards to overcome key technical challenges. Extensive planning will be needed to meet more stringent end-to-end latency, jitter, and synchronization requirements of a wide range of potential applications, such as remote medicine and telesurgery, mixed reality, five-sense networks with fully tactile haptics for immersive gaming, custom microservices, autonomous transportation, time-engineered services, smart factories, and smart cities. 

6G will have to deliver high data rates and low latency, as well as meet stringent bidirectional reliability requirements across countless devices with near-zero response times. 

Assuring the Next Generation of Services 

Assuring the next generation of wireless services will require a high degree of automation. Such automation will be needed for everything from troubleshooting misconfigurations to cybersecurity protection. Cloud-based AI tools will enable operators to better understand the root cause of problems, assisting teams in stopping those problems from proliferating. 

Operators will need to assure service for next-generation networks in order to support service-level agreements (SLAs) and mission- and business-critical services, as well as emerging applications. The increased complexity of a future 6G network and demands on service assurance will necessitate advanced, AI-powered automation. Without such assistance, the potential for a suboptimal customer experience is far too great. 

Highly scalable monitoring solutions that have been designed for the cloud will be instrumental for successfully delivering actionable insights into the reliability and latency of tomorrow’s 6G networks, applications, and services. Future-proof your networks now.

Learn more about next-generation monitoring solutions.