MWC Shanghai 2019 was witness to the world’s first In-situ Flow Information Telemetry (iFIT) pilot on the 5G transport network, which was successfully carried out by Beijing Unicom and Huawei.

Beijing Unicom has been able to build an intelligent, visualized 5G transport network with the help of the iFIT solution that provided enhanced service recovery speeds through capabilities like millisecond-level in-band flow measurement, real-time monitoring of network service quality to meet Service Level Agreement (SLA) requirements, and second-level silent fault locating.

Huawei’s iFIT is the industry’s first in-band flow measurement solution to have been deployed commercially

This solution had won the Best of Show Award Special Prize at Interop Tokyo 2019 this month.

When Beijing Unicom made use of the Huawei iFIT solution in its pilot, along with Huawei routers deployed on the forwarding planes and Network Cloud Engine (NCE) on the control planes, it simulated various network faults, including the ones that are hard to detect such as single packet loss or delay beyond the threshold.

Huawei’s innovation demonstrated high precision in measuring and displaying the fault information on NCE, followed by analyzation of information and prompt optimization of paths.

iFIT does not require external probes. The service boards of routers can obtain the key performance indicators (KPIs) of real service flows, hop by hop, and the delay precision is high. This is a great breakthrough in the O&M technology of transport networks – Mr. Zang, Manager of Beijing Unicom Transport Center

He added that,” With the issuance of 5G commercial licenses, the 5G process will be accelerated, and the iFIT solution will play an important role in SLA assurance.”

Huawei has claimed to have made use of an approach quite different from the conventional approach towards network operations and maintenance (O&M), by having opted for creating its innovative iFIT solution along with a hardware approach.

The conventional method uses test packets to obtain data which, however, comes with a range of disadvantages. Accurate reflection of service quality information takes a backseat due to inconsistent paths of test packets and service packets, especially silent faults like minor packet loss that are not easily detected.

Additionally, the shortest interval at which information can be collected is minutes because of which faults get diagnosed only after the event has occurred or after the quality has deteriorated, which often extends up to hours, days or even weeks.

The 5G network era requires higher network quality, higher bandwidth and a lower packet loss rate.

Huawei has come up with its innovative iFIT hardware approach that, in place of test packets, makes use of per-packet detection to identify minor exceptions in real-time service network traffic. This helps it to directly measure information conducted via packets, such as the delay and packet loss rate of each service, which results in an enhancement of precision in service packet loss detection.

According to Huawei, “Rather than using test packets, iFIT directly measures information carried in packets to obtain information, including the delay and packet loss rate of each service. Indeed, the precision of service packet loss detection can reach 10-6, a 1000-fold increase compared to the conventional approach.”

Telemetry’s millisecond-level data collection, when paired with Huawei’s iFIT solution, has been seen to meet the SLA requirements for new 5G services so as to carry out real-time service quality visualization, minute-level fault demarcation and locating.

With the advent of 5G, diversified service types, and differentiated SLAs will bring huge challenges to transport networks. 5G-oriented high-precision detection technology has always been the direction of our research. The iFIT pilot marks a new level of innovation and cooperation between Beijing Unicom and Huawei in the 5G transport field – Huang Xinyu, Director of Huawei 5G Transport Solution

In the future, Beijing Unicom and Huawei have further plans to implement joint innovations that would make 5G become available for large-scale, commercial use in China.