5G Requires Performance Benchmarking

2021-04-21  |  5 min read 

Benchmarking of mobile networks has never been more important than it is today, in the 5G era. Not only are mobile network operators (MNOs) grappling with new technologies brought by 5G, but they are also racing to deploy new cell sites and roll out new services. Competition is fierce, and the technology is challenging. Given these conditions, visibility into network quality is absolutely essential to MNOs.    

Equally important is the ability of MNOs to evaluate — prior to deployment — how well 5G devices and base stations will perform on their network as new models, features, and versions become available. Operators cannot reliably deploy a device or piece of network equipment on their network without knowing exactly how it will perform. And this becomes even more critical in the 5G era, when the definition of a device operating on the network has expanded far beyond just a handset to include all types of electronic equipment with a 5G cellular connection.  

In a recent customer engagement, Keysight worked with a specialized MNO that was facing this challenge head on. This MNO — which operates a national network specifically dedicated to public safety organizations such as police, firefighters, and first responders — needed the ability to validate in the lab how devices would perform on its network. Given the role of this particular operator’s network, validating how well a device will perform on the network or how a software update will affect the performance of a base station is critical. It can be a matter of life and death.       

Using our Performance Benchmarking Solution (PBM) for Lab Networks enabled this operator to automatically benchmark the performance of 5G devices and base stations and validate their software updates in a laboratory environment. This provided the operator with the insight that it needed to understand exactly how devices and equipment would perform on the live network prior to deploying them. 

The beauty of the PBM solution is the end-to-end automation framework. It provides a single user interface that extends from test plan definition and executions to reporting and analytics. This enables not only cost-effective benchmarking of devices and base stations, but also gives users the capability to easily engage in troubleshooting to resolve network issues. 

The PBM solution combines Keysight’s Nemo Outdoor 5G NR Drive Test Solution, Nemo 5G Device Analytics software, and PathWave Test Automation, a test sequencer built on OpenTAP, an open-source test automation engine, and complemented with a wide range of test cases to create an automated test environment. 

PBM for Lab Networks is a relatively new offering for Keysight. It is targeted mainly toward customers that have live 5G base stations within their labs. Other solutions offered by Keysight also provide benchmarking and troubleshooting capabilities, but are intended for customers using Keysight’s UXM 5G Wireless Test Platform in their labs.  

One such solution is Keysight’s Device Benchmarking Toolset (DBT),  an end-to-end test solution that enables device makers and mobile operators to automate testing and reporting across different device builds and models. It delivers an integrated lab-based test solution that cost-effectively enables users to benchmark devices, troubleshoot, resolve issues and, ultimately, enhance product quality. 

Keysight also offers device troubleshooting capabilities that can be enabled across the solutions in our Network Emulation Solutions (NES) portfolio.  

For more information, see:

Redefining 5G New Radio Drive Testing
Performance Benchmarking for Lab Networks