Assuring connectivity in an age of uncertainty

In February, UK-based telecoms and technology testing company Spirent Communications released its inaugural 5G outlook report which anticipated 2020 would be the biggest year yet for 5G. This was particularly the case for so-called standalone 5G networks that don’t incorporate any elements of 4G and are best suited to meeting high-performance enterprise demands.

Just a few weeks after the report’s release, the coronavirus outbreak was declared a global pandemic, national lockdowns were enforced and the business world all but ground to a halt. As a global market leader, Spirent took stock of the situation, anticipating a slowdown, but found some signs of the opposite scenario unfolding.

“In many cases, our customers aren’t slowing down at all and some 5G deployment timetables are actually accelerating,” says James Cater, vice president, Europe, Middle East and Africa, at Spirent Communications, whose testing, assurance and security solutions for next-generation devices and networks assure new services and safe connectivity.

In many cases, our customers aren’t slowing down at all and some 5G deployment timetables are actually accelerating

“We attribute this to the high degree of uncertainty and market players positioning to accomplish as much as they can at this moment in case they are thwarted by another wave of the virus. But plans are being expedited to also meet emerging needs.”

There is no doubt the connectivity ecosystem is facing huge challenges during the pandemic. Remote working orders have pushed demand for high-scale connectivity away from purpose-built corporate networks deployed in business districts and towards home networks in suburbs and rural areas where infrastructure is largely just consumer grade.

Meanwhile, as security endpoints grow with more workers accessing networks from home, attack surfaces are expanding, creating vulnerabilities.

Spirent is helping organisations worldwide keep up with spikes in connectivity demands and the evolving threat landscape. The company’s security solutions proactively test networks for vulnerabilities, helping enterprise network administrators quickly locate and address network weaknesses.

It is also helping to assure the connectivity to these networks via its work with telecom operators, proactively monitoring for problem issues that need to be addressed before they impact customers. As mobile operators continue to expand subscriber bases that overwhelmingly comprise consumers to include more enterprises, high levels of reliability are an expectation, not a luxury.

Automation is central to Spirent’s offerings, drastically reducing the number of manual hours required to test or launch new services, and freeing up the time of support staff to focus on higher-value tasks.

By automating testing and development, Spirent offers continuous assurance to allow companies to be more comfortable with the level of service they are providing. This is wrapped in a layer of continuous security, which in a rapidly changing threat landscape is far more effective than deploying individual security products. In addition, Spirent addresses remote collaboration needs.

“Our lab and test-as-a-service offerings are shifting critical onsite support responsibilities within masses of physical locations and centralising them in the cloud,” says Cater. “It really simplifies the relationship with our customers. Especially when social distancing and remote collaboration are so vital, the ability to test and provision new services remotely is an absolute game-changer.

“As our customers expedite rollout plans, they rely on Spirent to help them move forward quickly but safely. Firstly, we enable them to develop and get their products to market faster, but with the confidence that it is safe to move quickly. Secondly, we help them produce a higher-level product so they can take market share and drive profits for their board and stakeholders.

“And finally, our insights ensure they deliver their products and services to their customers as effectively as possible. Those insights come from decades of understanding how device manufacturers, equipment makers and operators around the world design and build products.”

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