Mobile operators today are in a constant battle to meet subscribers’ quality of service (QoS) expectations, while also keeping network costs as low as possible. This balance has been made even more challenging by subscribers’ increasing mobile data usage (global mobile data traffic grew 69% in 2014) and by mobile operators’ tendency to implement multi-vendor networks that include multiple frequency bands and radio generations. Altogether, traditional network optimization tactics are simply not helping mobile operators win.
Consequently, we are pleased to introduce VistaNEO to the market. It is a mobile network experience optimization solution capable of automatically and intelligently collecting and post-processing mobile network data, enabling mobile operators to proactively solve mobile network quality problems and combat subscriber churn. By automatically pulling 24/7 geo-located call trace data, VistaNEO also offers improved network intelligence, allowing mobile operators to improve QoS and reduce CAPEX and OPEX.
VistaNEO is innovative in that it approaches network performance management from the subscriber perspective, rather than the operator perspective. Historically, mobile operators monitored network performance statistics as one metric – a percentage point for the end-to-end network’s QoS. However, this approach doesn’t take into consideration the dips in service that some subscribers may be repeatedly facing.
VistaNEO helps mobile operators identify those areas where subscribers frequently experience performance degradation, and then diagnose and remedy the cause of the performance problems. The solution can also amalgamate all this data into long-term trend analyses, so mobile operators can better understand patterns of poor cell performance.
We’ll be showcasing VistaNEO at our Mobile World Congress booth (Hall 7, #7G40) next week. If you’re planning to attend, I invite you to come learn more about how we’re helping mobile operators improve their network optimization efforts. You can also email email@example.com to arrange a meeting with my colleagues or I while in Barcelona. Hope to see you there!]]>
Over the last few years, significant advancements have been made to the U.S.’s public safety networks, and for good reason. FirstNet, a U.S. government agency designed to support first responder communications, was tasked with standardizing the design process for its new, LTE-based public safety network. With the help of InfoVista’s network planning technology, FirstNet is able to securely share project data and better collaborate with stakeholders, ensuring the resulting network delivers high network performance and robust coverage.
To ensure that the FirstNet project is executed successfully, State and Local Implementation Grant Programs (SLIGP) have been developed to provide resources and funding that assists government entities with implementation. Among other priorities, SLIGP grantees must develop extensive plans, ranging from the identification of public safety users to the usage of existing infrastructure that has been chosen by FirstNet to build, operate and maintain a public safety network. This is no small task.
InfoVista has partnered with Signals Analytics LCC, a resource for the first responder community, to help stakeholders get a handle on these plans, particularly around the time that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and FirstNet are expected to release the second phase of SGLIP funding. To further educate, we will host a webinar on February 26th to explain which standardized assets need to be documented for national public safety broadband networks.
For example, SGLIP grantees must establish their broadband coverage and capacity needs, and plan LTE networks in collaboration with FirstNet. Webinar attendees will learn the kind of network planning solution that is required in order to address every stage of the mobile network lifecycle – from strategic planning to network design and management.
Navigating the realm of public safety networks is not easy, and to further educate stakeholders in their effort to ensure accurate coverage and meet network planning needs, InfoVista will also be taking part in two panels at IWCE. InfoVista Senior Software Engineer Darren Hart will present on the panel, “Modeling LTE and LMR: An Analysis of Coverage, System Design and Testing.” Alongside other panelists, Darren will answer questions like, “What’s the difference between Land Mobile Radio (LMR) system coverage and LTE system coverage?” and, “Which modeling metrics and techniques should be used when evaluating coverage of LMR and LTE systems?”
IWCE attendees that also attend the panel, “The Deadline Approaches for Positive Train Control,” will hear myself, with the support of members from the Positive Train Control (PTC) 220 executive team, provide history of the project, current initiatives and future plans as the PTC deadline approaches. Armed with case study examples and real-world technology advice, professionals will not only walk away from this presentation with the knowledge to prepare their systems ahead of the deadline, but will understand the overall PTC RAN architecture that enabled the railroad engineering teams, subcontractors and governing agencies to effectively design, manage and optimize their individual portions of the project. All of this, while coordinating necessary shared information with each other, similar to the collaborative efforts that will be reqired by the states and FirstNet in the deployment of the Nationwide Public Broadband Network.
Interested in learning more about how network planning can improve the rollout of today’s public safety networks? Find more details about each of the events I’ve mentioned, below. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn to chat about these topics further!
A mobile operator’s work is never done. The telco industry is evolving rapidly, requiring mobile operators to juggle activities like ensuring a high quality of experience (QoE) for end users and troubleshooting ongoing mobile network performance, all while managing new technology roll-outs (e.g. LTE, C-RAN and even 5G), keeping up with the latest network standards and more. Achieving all of this simultaneously is no easy feat, let alone a cost-effective one, and it demands the right tools and network insight to remain one step ahead of the curve.
Many mobile operators have turned to new technology like VoLTE, which allows existing LTE infrastructure to be shared for both voice and data services, to maximize network efficiency and get a leg up on the competition. Because VoLTE allows for IP-based, converged services, mobile operators can offer instant messaging and video conferencing, for example, to subscribers in attractive service bundles, effectively competing with the Over-the-Top (OTT) providers that are cannibalizing their bandwidth availability. But, despite the benefits that VoLTE brings, the technology is not without its own set of obstacles. Left unmonitored and improperly managed, VoLTE implementations can backfire.
For example, early adopters have found issues with call quality and call establishment delays in mobile network load conditions. What’s more, VoLTE adds yet another layer of complexity to heterogeneous networks (HetNets). This makes it increasingly difficult for mobile operators to ensure a high quality of service (QoS) for end users and, consequently, to prevent churn.
Indeed, as an IP-Convergent service, VoLTE is very sensitive to network conditions along the entire service delivery chain: from the RAN, to the backhaul, to the core network. Therefore, it is critical that mobile operators are able to monitor and enforce critical network performance indicators in all domains, while having the ability to quickly identify and diagnose problems in complex scenarios. This is especially the case when one network condition, like poor backhaul network performance, can affect the performance of other networks, starting with the RAN.
With our new Mobile Knowledge Pack, we are helping mobile operators quickly identify and diagnose these kinds of network problems. The solution offers a series of out-of-the-box VoLTE indicators that enable mobile operators to quickly monitor newly implemented, or planned, VoLTE networks. This, combined with InfoVista’s unified end-to-end network service assurance solution, from the RAN, to the backhaul, to the core network, gives mobile operators the necessary cross-domain visibility to ensure VoLTE service quality at least matches, or even exceeds, the service quality obtained with more traditional network architectures. This new evolution of the Mobile Knowledge Pack also demonstrates its flexibility to adapt to new vendors and technologies, providing operators with a long-term and strategic solution that reduces “time to operate” for new technology rollouts, today and tomorrow!
For more information on the Mobile Knowledge Pack and the importance of end-to-end mobile network performance management, as well as insight on how to fully optimize VoLTE investments, I invite you to access the page, VoLTE Network Performance Management.]]>
As wireless technology evolves to 4G, LTE and beyond, we are seeing the demand for mobile data follow suit. With the exponential rise in traffic, it is essential that mobile operators continuously optimize their legacy and next-generation networks in order to ensure the consistent delivery of a high end-user quality of experience (QoE). At the same time, though, mobile operators must keep their costs in check, which can be a challenging balance to strike.
Xeus Pro, InfoVista’s RF optimization software solution, is helping many mobile operators achieve this balance with advanced troubleshooting and optimization capabilities. It allows RF engineers to collect, correlate and analyze millions of call traces, and translate this information into actionable, geo-located network intelligence. As a result, they can prioritize quality of service (QoS) troubleshooting activities for VIP customers, accelerate root cause analysis of RF performance problems, and analyze customer-impacting problems to quickly find and fix recurring issues.
Given the power of the Xeus Pro solution, I am happy to share that InfoVista was recently recognized with a Mobility Tech Zone Wireless Backhaul Distinction Award. The annual program recognizes the innovation and support associated with delivering mobile services, and honors companies that are devoted to innovation as the industry evolves to wireless technologies and infrastructure.
As an example of the impact of Xeus Pro, Omani-based communications service provider (CSP) Nawras invested in the network optimization software to help manage the growing strain on its network. InfoVista’s solution has since helped Nawras improve all aspects of its network management, and eliminated the need to implement several different tools for daily engineering needs.
If you’d like to learn more, please visit the InfoVista website, or click on the below assets:
The Carrier Ethernet market is a proven revenue-driver for communications service providers (CSPs), and by all accounts, it will continue to be so in the coming years. By 2017, the Carrier Ethernet market is expected to be worth $100 billion, and by one year later, revenue from these services is predicted to be 300 percent higher than it is now.
For some CSPs, such as Cable MSOs and competitive carriers, it offers new business opportunities and may sound like a windfall for the industry, but for many, it’s at the expense of high-margin legacy TDM services. Regardless, all are being motivated by the same core driver, time-to-revenue.
As I explained during the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) GEN14 panel, “Unlocking Revenues with Standardized Carrier Ethernet 2.0 Wholesale E-Access Services,” the key to demonstrating and differentiating the value of Carrier Ethernet services begins with standardized performance visibility. The visibility maximizes the value of the service to business customers and the standards optimize the cost-effectiveness and delivery times, ultimately accelerating time-to-revenue.
In this video, I explain how visibility defines the customer experience. I explore a shipping company’s case study, in combination with a personal story of ordering a guitar for my daughter’s upcoming birthday and tracking the delivery all the way to my doorstep. These examples parallel the importance of Carrier Ethernet performance visibility and how it impacts the value of a service:
It’s this same simple visibility I described in the video – the ability to login and see data right away – that business customers crave. As our “Pulse of the CSP Market” survey found, 70 percent of CSPs say their customers would value more sophisticated reporting.
The other piece of the puzzle, in addition to visibility, is MEF’s Carrier Ethernet standards, which help bridge the gap between what customers want – real-time data, self-service analytics, historical insights and more – and what CSPs actually give them. There’s also a clear revenue play that can’t be overlooked. If these standards help CSPs establish faster time-to-revenue for business services and simplify network and service performance management, then customers will value the service more. And if they value the service more, they’ll be willing to pay more for it.
By aligning industry standards with enhanced performance visibility, CSPs can position themselves to improve their time-to-revenue and get the most out of the burgeoning Carrier Ethernet market.]]>
Increasing the speed of service activation, alongside optimizing network services pricing is still causing headaches for communications service providers (CSPs). Incremental network technology improvements and other tactics haven’t quite been able to cut it, and CSPs are looking toward new technologies such as network functions virtualization (NFV) and software defined networking (SDN) to bridge the gap. This was confirmed in a recent Heavy Reading survey, where it was revealed that service agility and flexibility is the key factor influencing companies’ NFV deployment decisions.
So, what’s the catch? To be in a position to realize the benefits that agile network services present for operators, they must first make organizational changes, upgrade their Network Management Solutions and fully deploy end-to-end instrumentation of their existing network services. In fact, 57 percent of Heavy Reading survey respondents understood that considering service assurance prior to the deployment of SDN was critical.
To succeed with NFV and SDN, business service providers must strike a balance between delivering a consistent quality of service (QoS) and increasing their network services agility. This requires an update of the current inflexible service assurance systems that were designed for legacy networks and are unable to handle the increased complexity and agility that make up today’s network service architecture.
The exponential increase in the number of virtual network functions (VNFs) will lower engineering’s and operation’s visibility on network function capacity and performance. This visibility issue can be overcome by offering holistic dashboards that are agnostic from the virtualization stack.
By upgrading their OSS to become “real-time,” CSPs will allow real-time provisioning/synchronization between various elements (activation, configuration, performance, billing, etc.). By bridging siloes and making organizational roles clear, network and IT engineers can increase their cooperation and succeed in introducing a new IT stack in their network’s architecture.
As lofty of a goal as this “real-time” OSS may seem, it is possible, it is worth it and it can be achieved in a relatively short timeframe. An end-to-end, next-generation service assurance solution enables mobile and fixed line operators to handle the scale and dynamics of a virtual network. By considering service assurance before embarking on NFV or SDN implementations, the transition becomes seamless, and service quality will be maintained.
InfoVista and Heavy Reading have developed a five-step service assurance maturity model as a guide to help CSPs transition to NFV and SDN:
The opportunities that NFV and SDN hold for the CSP are plentiful, and the long-term ROI will certainly be worth the up-front effort. But, to reap those rewards, operators must be proactive in their approach to continue to deliver on customers’ expectations throughout the transition. The proper planning and attention of service assurance has become a critical part of CSPs’ success.
If you are interested in having a conversation about NFV and SDN and service assurance, I invite you to connect with me on LinkedIn, or check out one of these helpful resources:
I also invite you to register for the webinar I am participating in with TM Forum on January 20th at 11 a.m. ET / 4 p.m. GMT, “NFV & SDN: The 5 steps your OSS will need to take to succeed.” By attending this webinar, you will understand the details of each of the five steps of the service assurance maturity model and how you can ensure a smooth transition to NFV and SDN.]]>
In the last four years alone, more than 1 billion people have gained mobile network access, bringing the global total to 3.2 billion mobile subscribers – nearly half the world’s population. And we’re only about another four years away from crossing the next significant milestone – 4 billion global subscribers.
Historically, this rapidly growing landscape has translated to fierce competition between mobile operators for new customers. But, as some markets reach saturation and the well of new customers dries up, mobile operators must focus on keeping the customers they already have satisfied. And that’s not an easy task, given that competitors are around every corner, coming up with new incentives, such as paying early termination fees, to woo subscribers away from their current mobile operator.
So with fewer new customers on the market, and lost customers almost certain to not return, what can mobile operators do? Many have found success in first addressing the most common reason customers leave in the first place – poor quality of service (QoS).
The Service Puzzle
The top reasons for mobile customer churn are generally related to QoS, whether subscribers think they’re receiving insufficient value for their money or they’re frustrated with poor network quality. What’s worse for operators is that these problems rarely exist in a private vacuum.
Any time subscribers experience service problems, whether it’s a serious outage or constant, ongoing degradation, they will voice their complaints through social media, sometimes so loudly that news outlets pick up on the story. The resulting storm of criticism damages the operator’s reputation and can increase churn, which, in turn, jeopardizes revenue.
To prevent these losses, operators need to understand why QoS problems are happening in the first place. Network problems have been on the rise for two reasons – networks today are increasingly complex, and subsequently, operators lack visibility across those networks. Together, these factors make it difficult for operators to monitor QoS and then act quickly to address any problems.
But, these limitations are avoided when mobile operators apply end-to-end mobile service assurance. By gaining a full, near-real-time view of the service delivery chain, in a single dashboard, mobile operators can respond quickly to service problems and deliver on the agreed upon KPIs, meaning less performance degradation and network downtime for customers, and improved QoS.
Meeting the expectations of 4 billion mobile subscribers isn’t easy, but it’s more within reach when operators apply end-to-end mobile service assurance
To learn more, see our video, “End-to-End Mobile Service Assurance: Keeping Customers Happy.”]]>
Today’s mobile networks are increasingly dense, complex and heterogeneous, thanks in large part to the trend toward virtualization. In addition, operators must consider the burden of ongoing, exponential mobile data traffic growth on their networks.
Unfortunately for mobile operators, just as network management is becoming more of a challenge, customer expectations for consistently high quality of service (QoS) have increased – subscribers are demanding unwavering mobile performance, or they will churn at the drop of a hat.
While mobile operators may aim for 100 percent customer satisfaction, the above-mentioned factors make that expectation for a high quality of experience (QoE) unrealistic. Instead, the best that mobile operators can do is ensure optimal QoS for as many of their subscribers as possible, starting with their high-value customers.
Indeed, not all subscribers are equal in regards to the revenue they represent for a mobile operator, which is why RF engineers must prioritize QoS troubleshooting activities for these VIPs. With the right approach, mobile operators can maintain a great level of customer experience and minimize churn. Vital to their success is having a tool with the power to analyze millions of calls, or simply just one from a VIP!
One key to efficient, targeted network troubleshooting is to utilize live mobile call trace data, which provides mobile operators with the real-time, geo-located data they need to address high-priority QoS problems. Equipped with the right tool, RF engineers can leverage thepower of call trace data to make mobile network troubleshooting more efficient and effective.
The troubleshooting process begins by translating network and subscriber information – that is, the subscribers’ network activities and associated signaling – into actionable, customer-centric intelligence. Mobile operators can then apply that intelligence to proactively identify which subscribers are being impacted the most by network issues, and where network investments will elicit the highest improvements in QoS.
By understanding the individual experiences of subscribers, sorted by KPIs like dropped call and call success rates, mobile operators can better focus on the network problems that are causing the most harm to the customer experience, as well as service those VIP customers whose churn would most impact the operator’s business. By following this troubleshooting process, mobile operators can maximize customer retention and, in turn, their revenues.
Watch our new video to learn more about how customer-centric mobile network troubleshooting and optimization are helping mobile operators add a personal touch to customer service and deliver a better customer experience where and when it matters most, including in today’s most complex, multi-vendor and multi-technology network environments.]]>
Today’s mobile operators have a lot on their plates. They must manage increasing mobile data volumes and deliver a high quality of experience (QoE), all while keeping CAPEX and OPEX in check. Without a clear view of the end-to-end network, each of these individual tasks are difficult to achieve – let alone all at once!
In the past, mobile operators have struggled with keeping data within their mobile network planning projects up-to-date. Given how tedious the collection of this information was, RF engineers too often had to rely on outdated network data and limited information about the mobile network performance, resulting in sub-optimal use of network investments.
With live mobile network planning, this is no longer a problem. This method takes into account three unique data types – geo-located call traces, network performance key performance indicators (KPIs), and live network configuration and parameter settings – to provide RF engineers with timely and accurate insight into their mobile networks’ current status. Tracking these data types allows evolving traffic demands and existing network issues to be addressed, providing a complete tool box for efficient and integrated network planning and optimization, all in near real time.
First and foremost, by incorporating mobile call trace data from different vendors and geo-locating it with a powerful geo-location algorithm, live mobile network planning enables RF engineers to accurately predict radio propagation through detailed network modeling. Geo-located call trace data gives a remarkably good view of where mobile devices are used, and is an excellent input to small cell planning. All of this can ensure that small cells are placed where they are really required. And, based on call trace data, live mobile network planning also provides a view of indoor vs. outdoor traffic, thus making a huge impact on planning decisions. Lastly, live mobile network planning shows where network upgrades are needed based on the most valuable customers’ usage patterns.
Network performance counters, also known as KPIs, offer a good view of the network’s quality and traffic. They explain how the network performs, along with what the quality is now and how it has evolved over time, which part of the network works well, and which parts will need some additional attention to perform as expected. By selecting and analyzing KPIs for different times of the day or week, RF engineers really get to know the mobile network and understand its strengths and limitations. But, the integration with a network performance management solution offers even more. At their fingertips, RF engineers get current traffic and LTE cell loads that they can use as input to traffic maps and network analyses. They also have the ability to forecast the traffic development in the mobile network based on the actual traffic during the last few months.
Last, but not least, live mobile network planning projects can be updated with the live network’s configuration and parameter settings. Besides keeping planning project data up-to-date, this enables a long row of interesting use cases, such as on-air status and implementation control. It helps RF engineers answer questions like: “Has the network been implemented according to the optimized plan?” and “Have changes and mistakes made to the plan during the implementation phase caused the network to under-perform?”
Interested in learning more about mobile network planning? Check out these helpful resources:
As of earlier this year, mobile operators across more than 100 countries have adopted LTE, motivated by the opportunity to gain additional network capacity and ensure faster speeds for subscribers. In the U.S. alone, mobile operators will spend an estimated $138 billion on LTE networks over the next five years to continue delivering on those initiatives.
Yet, despite the deployment of next-generation 4G/LTE networks, mobile operators will still be faced with the challenge of keeping quality of service (QoS) consistent and delivering the best possible quality of experience (QoE) for end users, while keeping OPEX and CAPEX for these new networks at a minimum.
If an integrated network planning and optimization practice is adopted early on, mobile operators will see better results with their 4G/LTE deployments. This is an important step in improving the efficiency of mobile operators’ PLAN-BUILD-OPERATE cycles, which are becoming increasingly important with new 4G/LTE deployments.
Additionally, by gaining an end-to-end view of all the subscribers relying on their networks, and the performance each is experiencing, mobile operators will be better equipped to improve network efficiency and ensure holistic network performance. Mobile operators will also be able to apply this real-time, predictive network intelligence to make better use of their existing network assets, thereby improving CAPEX and OPEX efficiency.
Over the next month, InfoVista will be presenting on the importance of unified network planning, optimization and service assurance for LTE networks. First, join us this week at LTE Africa 2014, where InfoVista’s Astrid Wastegard will be participating in a panel discussion, “Highlighting the Importance of Gaining Consumer Insight & Managing Network Performance for QoE.” You can also stop by our booth (#C15b) to learn more how InfoVista is working with customers in the region to improve mobile network performance.
We’ll also be presenting at LTE North America 2014 (Booth #59g), November 18-20 in Dallas. During that event, Bernard Breton will be participating in a panel discussion, “Performance Optimization in Mobile Networks.”
To arrange one-on-one meetings with Astrid and Bernard at this month’s LTE events, please contact Dina Rodrigues at firstname.lastname@example.org.]]>