Taking photo with mobile phone on large sports arena

How to monitor your mobile network when you’re not a mobile operator

Gavin Hayhurst
Oct. 21 2022

With almost 8.4 billion mobile subscriptions globally, it is fair to say that mobile phones have become an integral part of most people’s lives. This ubiquity means mobile communications are often used in situations where connectivity is important and, in some cases, even critical.

While service level agreements (SLAs) are commonplace in fixed line networks, especially when serving corporate customers, they are still in their infancy when it comes to mobile networks.

This means you may be using a mobile network for important, even critical communications, but you have no SLA with the network provider and no visibility that the network is performing to the standard you require.

When business revenues, or even lives, rely on a mobile network, you need confidence that it is working and will not let you down. But how can you achieve this when you are not an operator and have no access to the operator’s service assurance solution?

Perhaps you’re a regulator who wants to have oversight of all the operators in your market and ensure they are delivering against their license SLAs or a first responder organization coordinating team members via mobile phones. Conversely, maybe you are operating a secure location and want to make sure that your mobile jammers are working as intended.

Active network monitoring is the solution.

What is active network monitoring?

Active network monitoring is monitoring a network by using a device to generate traffic on the network. In the case of a mobile network, you can actively monitor the network by using a mobile phone to make calls, send messages, transfer data, stream videos or whatever else you might want to test. The data gathered from these tests can then be analyzed to understand how well the network is performing, and the alarm can immediately be raised to the mobile network operator if a problem is detected.

Active network monitoring is great because it delivers remotely managed, fully automated service monitoring and real-time analytics from key locations, providing continuous insights into the quality and performance of the network.

Infovista’s active network monitoring solution is called TEMS Sense.

In a previous blog on why active network monitoring makes sense for mobile networks we made the case for active network monitoring if you are a mobile network operator. In this blog we are going to look at situations where it makes sense to deploy active network monitoring if you are not a mobile network operator but the performance of the network you use is critical to you.

The Regulator

Major events, such as global sports tournaments or international exhibitions, pose unique challenges to mobile networks – and to the regulators that must hold them to account. Be it fans sharing event highlights to social media or video calling friends from packed stadiums, knowing that the networks can handle the task is central to a regulator’s role.

This is something that the Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) in Qatar is doing as they prepare for 100,000s of soccer fans to visit the country, enabling them to monitor the network quality of all operators at key locations such as stadia and airports.

Active network monitoring enables regulators to be able to work with their national operators to help understand how they are delivering against their Service Level Agreements and identify any steps that need to be taken to ensure the very best quality of experience.

Each TEMS Sense box can hold 4 SIM cards so regulators can use them mounted in key strategic locations to monitor the performance of all the operators in their country.

The First Responder

With many first responders moving to public 5G networks, the need for the mobile network to deliver critical communications has never been greater. Best effort isn’t good enough when it’s a matter of life or death. The network must be continually monitored so any issues are identified and resolved before they become a problem.

Finland led the way in nationwide public safety networks, and is continuing to set the pace in bringing critical communications to the 5G network.

Active network monitoring gives the emergency services confidence in their 5G critical comms, enabling them to validate network performance at key first responder sites, police stations, fire stations and hospitals on a 24/7 basis.

TEMS Sense units can be mounted in these locations to continuously monitor the network is performing as expected.

The Private Network

At the last count, the Global mobile Suppliers Association had recorded over 889 organizations deploying LTE or 5G Private Mobile Networks across 70 countries worldwide. Not only is that a lot of networks, but it’s in verticals such as manufacturing, education, mining, and power utilities – not sectors which typically have in-house expertise in operating a mobile network!

Many private 5G networks will be small and will need a method to assure the performance of the network. Service assurance solutions are large, complex and expensive, and not a feasible option from a complexity and cost perspective for a small network of perhaps just 10s of cells.

For small private networks, TEMS Sense is the perfect solution to understand that a) the network is working as expected and b) to understand the performance of the network without the need to be an RF expert.

The Government Agency

In a similar vein to the First Responders, government agencies need to be certain that all their key locations are online and on-call without interruption. For a large national agency, this could mean 300+ specific locations being monitored every second of every day.

Clearly a task of this scale can’t be done manually. It has must be unattended, proactive and continuous.

Active network monitoring gives government agencies the peace of mind that the network in every location is operating as it should be.

TEMS Sense units can continually call every other TEMS Sense unit in a fleet in a round robin type arrangement to ensure that every office can call every other office at all times.

The Secure Location

All the use cases above have been focused on making sure the network is working and that the experience it is delivering is as it should be.

But what if the objective is to make sure the network isn’t working; to monitor that there is actually no service being delivered?

Secure locations such as prisons or sensitive military bases often need to ensure that there is no mobile connectivity, making it impossible for prisoners or visitors to make calls or send data from smuggled mobile phones to contacts ‘on the outside’.

Active network monitoring enables organizations operating these sites to maintain their security by monitoring all mobile networks and be confident that they are blocking the ability for unauthorized people to make calls or send data.

TEMS Sense can be used to continuously validate that cellular jammers are working, and it is not possible to make calls or send data from mobile phones.  

What are the benefits of active network monitoring?

As the use cases above clearly show, the ability to monitor 5G networks is not the sole preserve of the mobile operator. Many different types of organizations need to not just monitor their network performance, they need to do so against a backdrop of operating multiple locations with limited technical engineering resources.

Infovista’s TEMS Sense delivers fully automated monitoring and real-time analytics from fixed locations across the network, providing continuous insights into the quality and performance of mobile services. Units are remotely managed and controlled, and data can be collected, visualized and analyzed in real-time using TEMS Director, without the need for any technical expertise.

You can learn more about TEMS Sense, or please contact us if you would like to discuss how TEMS Sense might meet your needs.

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