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Rising Data Rates and User Expectations - Monitoring in Real Time

in Blog, Anite, EPC, 4G, LTE
James Goodwin, Product Manager, at Anite

LTE 4G promises a higher end-user experience with faster data rates. But, the complexity of new smart devices and new network technology means that to achieve a seamless experience, extensive testing of the devices, network and services prior to market introduction is increasing in importance.  

When a mobile operator launches a new service or an upgrade to an existing one, how does the network engineer ensure everything works together end-to-end, delivering the service subscribers expect?

One typical method involves monitoring the network at multiple points and then backhauling the data to a datacentre where it is stored and analysed offline. For analysing legacy networks, a day’s worth of traffic might typically require about 10TBs of storage. However, monitoring and analysis is significantly more challenging as network data rates increase, with 10GbE becoming standard to connect network nodes. One day’s traffic is now more than 100TBs of storage. In order to profile or test the services across multiple days petabytes of storage are required, which in itself requires complex big-data analysis and data mining to recover useful information. According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index (CVNI) global mobile data traffic will increase 11-fold between 2013 and 2018, reaching 15.9 exabytes per month by 2018.

As networks now run at multiples of 10Gbps, mobile operators are presented with a number of problems for test and analysis such as; throughput (data speed) that the ‘Capture’ function needs to run at, an unprecedented amount of required storage and a high software complexity for post-analysis. 

Another typical test and analysis method is to install probes to capture data, producing Petabytes of storage, and harness a big-data analysis suite to make sense of the data. Such systems already exist and serve multiple departments within CSPs, this means that the test engineer will need to: 

  • Wait for an allotted time before the data is made available 
  • Wait for the analysis suite to isolate the correct data

The alternative is to intelligently and efficiently filter traffic before it is captured and analysed, or better still, filter and analyse the traffic in real-time, storing only those sessions or data flows that need to be analysed offline. According to CNVI, IP video traffic will be 79 percent of all consumer Internet traffic in 2018, up from 66 percent in 2013. So if a test engineer is only interested in non-video traffic, the storage requirement can be instantly reduced by 79 percent via pre-filtering the video traffic out.

The reduced need for data storage allows test equipment to be smaller and much more portable, enabling the equipment to be used across multiple sites.

Anite has adopted this approach to LTE Evolved Packet Core (EPC) testing with its Triton, a hand portable test tool for 4th Generation EPC networks with LTE/EPC monitor, analysis, record and playback. It passively monitors the EPC interfaces by connecting through a 10GbE (or multiple) aggregated optical link(s).

Attributed to James Goodwin, Product Manager, at Anite, www.anite.com

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