Smartphone users need to connect to the people, information, applications and everything else they consider important, whatever it may be. To address this growing demand on mobile networks, and the increasing demand of users for positive experiences anywhere and anytime, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) must focus on flawless execution of three primary strategies:
- Provide a competitive network with consistent reliability, capacity, and speed
- Densify their networks in high-traffic and densely-populated indoor and outdoor areas
- Improve the customer experience by enhancing data capacity, data speed, and network coverage
By focusing on these three network strategies, MNOs will ensure they are constantly delivering and operating a platform that delivers positive network experiences, wherever and whenever mobile subscribers use their smartphones and other smart devices. Failure to do so will ultimately be devastating to any MNO's business, resulting in high churn rates; slow to zero subscriber growth; decreasing or stagnant Average Revenue Per User (ARPU); and even significant damage to the company's brand, amplified by negative word-of-mouth marketing by subscribers (postpaid and prepaid) before and after they leave.
To provide a platform for positive network experiences that inspires brand loyalty, increased spend, and positive word-of-mouth marketing, MNOs must now, more than ever, test, benchmark, and analyze the performance of their networks based on the mobile customer's experience.
This requires testing and benchmarking practices that focus on every-day, real-world mobile customer activities, such as placing a call on the way home from work; sending a quick message saying I LOVE YOU while on the airport runway; uploading vacation pictures to Facebook; watching a missed episode of a favorite TV series while on the bus; or even relaxing to music, getting directions to the nearest coffee shop, searching for nearby tourist attractions, or downloading an e-book while waiting for the next train.
And make no mistake about it — ensuring you have a platform for positive network experiences requires more than a quarterly report comparing signal and throughput metrics across operators. While these reports provide a great service — and great advertising content - to remain competitive and manage all the factors contributing to customer network experience, operators must regularly and thoroughly test and benchmark a comprehensive set of network performance metrics over time. Not only that, they must do so at different times of the day and in the many different places and geographic locations where customers use their smart devices most.
This means operators must test and benchmark both the Quality of Service (QoS) and the Quality of Experience (QoE) Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) directly related to the activities of mobile customers, including voice and video calling (OTT; operator provided), data file transfer, OTT streaming video, and OTT social media when deploying new technologies or launching new devices. The same applies when expanding the network into new geographic areas, and when densifying the network in high-traffic indoor and outdoor areas. This comprehensive list of KPIs must include standard metrics such as signal strength, signal quality, throughput speed, and throughput quality, as well as more service specific metrics such as call set up time, blocked call rate, data session interruption time, mouth to ear delay, and even video interruptions, and many more. In addition to these network-focused KPIs (and perhaps having greater importance), customer network experience KPIs must also be tested and benchmarked, which include the Mean Opinion Score (MOS) metrics of POLQA for voice quality and PEVQ-S for video streaming quality (based on ITU-T video quality standards).
To capture these critical measures of network performance and customer experience, MNOs must be equipped with industry-tested, state-of-the-art tools designed to support various network testing and benchmarking use cases, including:
- Testing in crowded pedestrian areas
- In buildings, such as shopping malls or corporate office complexes (requiring walk testing)
- Travelling on streets or highways in urban, suburban, rural, and remote areas, (requiring drive testing)
But there are also scenarios for which walk testing or drive testing are not optimized, such as unattended testing (i.e. subway or high speed rail cars) or remote monitoring of network performance (i.e. distribution center or government facility). More is needed.
In addition to operating a competitive network that provides the platform for positive connected experiences, MNOs must also look for smart ways to be more efficient and proficient in their operations, thus reducing OPEX. This means utilizing tools that can be used by managers and network engineers to manage the testing process remotely from the office, eliminating the need to conduct walk and drive tests using highly-skilled engineers. And, to enable managers and engineers with timely and accurate business intelligence, it is necessary that they have the tools to analyze the collected data so they can identify problem areas and gaps early on and make quicker strategic decisions.
In essence, MNOs, as well as the Managed Services Providers (MSPs) who work with them, must look for solutions that address the requirements of specific projects as well as the day-to-day operations of deploying, optimizing, and maintaining a high-performing network.
The ideal approach is to work with a single, world-leading company that provides a complete portfolio of end-to-end solutions for network performance testing, benchmarking, and analysis. By doing this, MNOs and MSPs ensure technical consistency, workflow efficiency, and expert technical support as they work to provide a competitive network that helps to deliver consistent, reliable, high-quality experiences anywhere and anytime mobile customers use their smart devices to connect to the people, information, applications and things important to them.
For information or a demo of InfoVista's end-to-end portfolio of network testing, benchmarking, and analysis solutions, contact us today.