The previous parts of this blog series drew the conclusion that the critical nature of some applications demands that solutions for testing 5G QoE must be independent, transparent and traceable to certified international standards and not aligned to proprietary techniques or individual network equipment vendors. The more one considers the mission-critical applications arising from 5G cases, the more it reinforces the central role of standardization bodies as a neutral reference for test methodology and test equipment vendors as an independent arbiter of quality and performance.

International standards organizations, such as the ITU and ETSI, are actively evolving their test models to cover the changes demanded by 5G, and this is something R&S is very actively engaged in. However, building 5G methodologies and standards is going to be complex when we contemplate all the use cases and remember that operators already have 200-400 core key performance indicators (KPI) to monitor.

Single, unified metric

The sheer amount of KPIs makes the understanding of quality of experience (QoE) in a granular way very difficult. Therefore, this is another change in the quality of service (QoS) environment driven by 5G, where there will be many more parameters to monitor, often in real time.

To evaluate and benchmark networks, KPIs are required that truly reflect the network’s performance so that based on such KPIs it is possible to define a fair and transparent performance scoring method. ETSI has taken the driver’s seat to discuss and define best practices for network benchmarking and scoring that enables the network to be characterized in a single, unified metric.

The method provides the operator with visibility of the status of their network and identifies the factors that influence quality. The factors and weightings that influence the scoring method will be adapted for each 5G use case and application. The robust fundamental methodology will provide the industry with an independent reference against which 5G QoS/QoE can be measured.

QoE solutions for 5G

The approach of R&S has two parts. First, to release test solutions that enable measuring the technical aspects of 5G networks such as coverage, performance and operation; and second, to enhance our existing QoE methodologies to encompass 5G use cases.

The solutions for testing technical aspects of the 5G RAN are already being used by operators as they move from trials to the commercial deployment of 5G. The QoE solutions from lower layers up to signaling are being developed in partnership with the operators and standardization bodies.

In conclusion, we need to establish an understanding of what the requirements of each 5G use case are. Then we can build out key parameters and KPIs required to meet those requirements and their range and limits. Once we understand why we are testing certain parameters, we will have the test methodology to quantify QoE according to those KPIs.

R&S is 5G-ready

Although we have seen that the requirement to test 5G QoE becomes more critical and demands tools that are more accurate with a more complex methodology, R&S today has the capability to test the network performance and the technical aspects of 5G networks, including QoS/QoE of enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB).

We are working towards QoE for massive Machine Type Communication (mMTC) and Ultra Reliable Low Latency Communication (URLLC) to ensure 5G applications function in accordance with their requirements. This ultimately enables mobile network operators to benefit from new 5G business models and to offer 5G connectivity to a whole new range of industries that works in accordance with its design parameters.

If you have enjoyed this blog series, you may be interested in the video “Interview: Quality of Experience in 5G” of Hanspeter Bobst, Vice-President of Rohde & Schwarz mobile network testing discussing QoE in a 5G world with Yves Bellego, Director of Technical & Network Strategy, Orange Group.

If you missed the first two parts of this series, you can read them here: