Rajesh Pathak, country managing director – India and SAARC, Spirent Communications

Spirent Communications, a leading global provider of automated test and assurance solutions, has been proactively eyeing opportunities in the Indian market. With the ever-expanding 5G ecosystem in the country, the company is tapping opportunities to help organisations test and validate a new generation of connected devices and technologies. In an interview with tele.net, Rajesh Pathak, country managing director – India and SAARC, Spirent Communications, talks about the company’s key focus areas, innovative solutions and upcoming priorities…

What are Spirent’s focus areas in the Indian market? What are the key solutions offered by the company in the telecom sector?

As a leading global provider of test and assurance solutions, our innovative portfolio of products and services addresses the test, assurance and automation challenges of an entire new generation of technologies – high speed Ethernet, 5G, software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN), cloud, cybersecurity, autonomous vehicles and beyond. In India, we are working closely with enterprises, government bodies, network equipment manufacturers (NEMs), and service providers to understand their needs and deliver solutions that cover their technology life cycle, from the lab to real-world deployment.

Today, networks are increasingly being powered by software and cloud infrastructure; more vendors are entering the market, more interfaces, layers and deployment architectures are becoming prevale­nt and new security threats are looming. To navigate in this complex next-generation network ecosystem and maximise the resiliency of their networks, one must be able to rapidly validate them before going live. Spirent’s lab-to-live testing solutions address the complex challenges of networ­ks and services, as we offer a unique combination of testing and validation solutions as well as managed testing services. The company recently launched the industry’s first 400G line rate live capacity network assurance probes. This facilitates service providers and enterprises with physical and network function virtualisation (NFV)-based test agents for high-speed networks.

Spirent is enabling communications ser­vice providers to achieve agility, reduce risks and costs, simplify complexities and accelerate time-to-market as they develop, deploy and operate 5G services. By leveraging new approaches to 5G network validations and testing, the company is creating a collaborative development environment, helping customers innovate faster, deliver flawless user experiences and re­duce costs.

How is 5G changing the network testing and validation landscape? What opportunities does it present for Spirent?

With 5G in our ecosystem, we observe three big changes in telecom networks – virtualisation, disaggregation and dynamic software models. Spirent is helping customers discover what is needed to navigate through these changes.

Spirent is backed by 2,600 5G engagements and we have some exceptional case studies from Rakuten Mobile, DISH, Telefónica and other 5G leaders that can be used for our Indian customers. Key opportunities th­at we recognise in India are:

  • Private networks are gaining traction as stakeholders recognise the need for a simple set of understandable service le­vel agreements (SLAs), and performance and site acceptance metrics that will drive enterprise information technology (IT)/operational technology (OT), and security investments.
  • Voice over new radio (VoNR) on 5G sta­nd­alone is getting ready for prime time with mean opinion scores (MOS) beating voice over long term evolution (VoLTE), thereby demonstrating the potential for immersive collaboration services in the future.
  • Fixed wireless access (FWA) range and competitive speeds doubled in just 12 months with throughputs reaching up­wards of 900 Mbps on mmWave and ranges beyond 2 km.
  • Mobile gaming based on key performance indicators (KPIs) that relate to user perception and acceptable tolerances.
  • Multi-access edge computing (MEC) performance with cloud providers de­monstrated less than 20 ms latencies but guaranteeing consistency is a work in progress.

What kind of projects are you working on in India? Are there any new projects/partnerships in the pipeline?

Leveraging our depth of experience and advanced testing solutions portfolio, Spi­rent India is working very closely with all the leading communications service pro­viders mainly on their 5G deployments. Additionally, we are helping government bodies in testing home-grown products to meet industry standards such as 3GPP compliance, feature and performance testing, while in some government organisations, we are providing our testing platform to global original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and operators before service launch. OEMs and NEMs are working closely with us for segment testing before release.

We are also enabling many large enterprises navigate through the complexities of cloud, security and disaggregated multivendor environment. We do this by em­powering operations teams with versatile and flexible test solutions to validate the scale, reliability and performance of networks and services.

What is the significance of Spirent’s latest announcement about SimXona for the PNT segment?

Robust positioning, navigation and timing systems require comprehensive, highly so­phisticated testing, encompassing all the positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) signals that application requires. The company’s SimXona is a powerful and versatile test solution designed to generate Xona PULSAR LEO PNT demonstration signals using Spirent PNT simulators. Based on SimIQ technology, SimXona enables users to produce I/Q files that can be easily replayed on Spirent PNT simulation platforms in conjunction with GNSS signals, facilitating comprehensive PNT testing.

What are the upcoming priorities for the company?

The government’s push for indigenous development of telecom technologies, 5G and 6G, Make in India, IT enterprises, banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI), healthcare, start-up ecosystem and the growth of OEMs and NEMs, are our priorities in the Indian market.

New market demands and technologies are changing how services and netwo­rks are architected and operated. While th­ese advancements result in important be­nefits and new opportunities, they also introduce higher levels of complexity and risk. They threaten service performance and can result in prolonged disruption when challenges arise. Also, network disaggregation and vendor diversity in the new era means that interoperability testing and vendor collaboration are more important than ever. Spi­re­nt is enabling enterprises to transform their IT workflows and drive operational excellence in the following areas:

  • Pre-deployment validation: Networks must be tested end to end with a combi­na­tion of performance validation, net­wo­rk emulation, and impairment solutions so real-world conditions can be re­created in controlled test bed envi­ron­me­nts – before going live. This helps un­cover problems during the pre-dep­loyment stage and may be fixed quickly with minimal costs. In addition, it allows SLAs to be carefully evaluated to ensure they are achievable, reducing post-de­ployment penalties, while im­proving end-user satisfaction. Spirent combines performance validation, network emulation and impairment solutions, so that real-world conditions can be recreated in controlled test bed environments be­fore going live. This reduces post-de­ployment problems which are expensive to correct, improves user experience and helps avoid any SLA penalties for poor performance.
  • Mitigate security vulnerabilities: Wh­en it comes to security validation, ma­ny enterprise IT teams rely on vendor cla­ims, but vulnerabilities may only be dis­co­vered after an exploit occurs. By pro­actively emulating attacks based on known threats and evaluating the entire end-to-end network, security weaknesses can be detected before deployment. Spirent’s Security Assessment solutions mimic real attacks, so network and app­lication vulnerabilities can be discovered before deployment. This allows problems to be fixed or mitigated before they are discovered and exploited, hardening security defences to minimise the effectiveness of attacks and related costs or damages.
  • Validate new infrastructure faster: By automating all aspects of connecting and configuring test beds, enterprise IT teams can accelerate testing and more ef­fectively share test bed resources, re­ducing equipment costs and energy us­age while empowering DevOps collaboration. Spirent Test bed Automation sol­utions automate test bed workflows in­cluding set-up and teardown, powering equipment up and down, reserving resources and running tests. Automation dramatically accelerates highly manual workflows such as test bed set-up – from days to just minutes. Test beds are re­mo­tely accessible allowing resources to be shared by teams in any location, improving utilisation and testing capacity while reducing equipment capex.