Monitoring and assuring the performance of increasingly complex backhaul networks is mission-critical for mobile operators as they face the inevitable adoption of next-generation technologies like LTE, VoLTE and 5G. For these adoptions to be successful, there are modern practices and tools that need to be used to monitor the network performance. Here is a brief rundown of these key requirements that we discuss in our whitepaper, “Mobile Backhaul Performance Management — Challenges, Requirements, Benefits and ROI.”
Real-Time Multi-Layer Troubleshooting
Often network operation teams don't have a complete understanding of how one network layer is affecting another. Typically, network performance data is spread among a multitude of unconnected monitoring tools (example: multiple EMS). Consequently, troubleshooting network performance across network layers is far more slow and complicated than it needs to be.
Operators need a unified performance management tool that is able to monitor the performance of all network layers in near real-time. This way network operation teams can know, for instance, whether the transport layer (either microwave or fiber) is affecting the backhaul IP/MPLS or Carrier Ethernet circuits, drastically reducing time to repair and increasing network uptime.
Automated Topology Discovery
Backhaul networks are constantly growing and evolving and, as the RAN becomes denser with the onset of small cells, the rate at which these changes are taking place is faster than ever, often occurring on a daily basis.
In the past, legacy or in-house assurance tools required operators to modify and update network dashboard maps and KPI formulas as changes occurred in the network. A modern performance management tool must automatically detect and handle these changes so that the network operators can focus on performance monitoring rather than constantly having to account for regular, frequent changes to network maps and KPIs.
The complete backhaul is composed of different networks that don't always work in tandem with each other. It is vitally important that all these networks can be monitored as a cohesive service delivery chain, helping operators dictate performance parameters on an end-to-end basis in a single dashboard. This way, one or multiple teams can also work together and accelerate the time to resolution even in highly- complex cross-domain network scenarios.
Accurate Capacity Planning
Taking the “safe” approach by oversizing backhaul circuits may prevent capacity issues for operators, but this could result in significant additional, unnecessary maintenance costs. Under-sizing backhaul circuits can be just as risky, though, because operators may run the risk of creating performance bottlenecks in the backhaul.
An important tool for right-sizing is monitoring traffic KPI trends and evolutions to predict the network load in the future. Operators can use that data to proactively adjust backhaul links by upgrading or downgrading their capacity as needed. This information also needs to be exported live to external planning tools outside of the backhaul so that engineering teams can increase accuracy when designing or overhauling parts of the network.
3GPP QoS Class Identifier (QCI) to MEF Class of Service (CoS) Mapping
One of the greatest challenges mobile operators face is when they are trying to monitor and assure end-to-end quality of voice and data together, since voice quality parameters depend on both LTE QCI and Backhaul COS mapping simultaneously. To combat this, the performance management solution needs to be able to learn how the RAN and Carrier Ethernet Backhaul mapping is done as well.
To learn more about this solution and the details regarding the other key requirements for mobile backhaul network performance management, download the whitepaper here. Stay tuned for the next installment in our series that takes a look at some of the business benefits of backhaul.