Traditionally, verifying the performance of a mobile network at specific locations has involved an engineer taking drive test (or walk test) equipment to a specific location and running the necessary tests. But this approach is both expensive and clearly not scalable. It also only confirms the quality of service at the specific time the engineer visits.
Engineer-led testing, be that drive testing with a phone and laptop or walk testing with a portable device delivers many invaluable insights. But it still only takes you so far. As operators strive for efficiency, new ways of working are required.
What is active network monitoring?
Active network assurance has a key role to play in 5G network rollouts, streamlining network monitoring and ensuring customer quality of experience. It delivers remotely managed, fully automated service monitoring and real-time analytics from fixed locations across the mobile network, providing continuous insights into the quality and performance of new and existing services and applications.
Why is active network monitoring important?
There are three reasons that active network monitoring makes good sense:
- New mobile networks demand new routines
The complexity of 5G networks makes these traditional manual testing methods extremely time and labor-intensive and no longer fit-for-purpose. Operators and vendors such as Nokia are turning to automating and centralizing the management of testing routines. Active testing solutions can support the verification, optimization and benchmarking of new 5G and legacy networks, significantly streamlining backend reporting and freeing engineers and service companies from manual drive and walk testing to focus instead on high value network optimization tasks.
- Positive customer experiences are built on 24x7 performance monitoring
To maintain first-rate service, mobile operators need to continuously monitor the network performance end-to-end. Operators can’t afford to wait for subscribers to discover network and service issues. Early detection and correction are essential. Active wireless network performance monitoring that provides early issue detection and root-cause analysis capabilities allows operators to quickly correct service impact issues that might occur in the mobile network.
When issues are discovered, additional tests may still be required. The choice at this point is either to send an engineer into the field, which takes time, is expensive, and not the best use of this finite highly skilled resource, or to continue down the automation path. By remotely running test scripts on an active testing device or connecting remotely to the device to perform ad-hoc diagnostic tests, troubleshooting can be reduced to minutes without ever requiring a trip into the field.
- Proactive key location monitoring makes strategic sense
Monitoring key strategic locations is an important pillar in this new network testing approach. Large enterprise mobility customers are not only the most profitable ones, but they are also the most expensive ones to acquire. Maximizing the lifetime value of these wireless customers makes good business sense.
By deploying active testing at strategic VIP customer locations, it is possible to not only monitor service quality but also to confirm the users at that location are receiving service that exceeds their contractual SLAs. As more and more 5G-critical communications services are deployed, and SLAs for mobile communications become more commonplace, it will become even more vital to validate that these SLA are being met (and exceeded) – and to raise alarms as soon as they are not.
Strategic key location monitoring can also include mobile operators deploying active testing at their retail stores to continuously validate that voice and data service quality is at the highest level. Another example is stadiums. With no traffic in stadiums when they are empty often network issues aren’t detected until game time which is then too late to resolve any problems. With an active testing approach issues can be highlighted and fixed before the crowds descend, and active testing can also be used to validate user experience when the stadium is full and the network is under pressure.
Finally, active testing devices deployed in key strategic locations makes it possible to validate network upgrades, new feature activations and any other changes that are made to the network. Continuous testing done at a fixed location provides a perfect baseline to confirm network changes have not adversely affected the network (or have improved it as intended) and it is easy to see if changes have degraded performance.
What are the benefits of active network monitoring?
As the use cases above clearly show, the nature of 5G networks and their rollout means active network assurance is essential in the ability of mobile operators to ensure customer quality of experience across the wider mobile network and in monitoring specific strategic locations.
Active network monitoring solutions such as Infovista’s active testing solution, TEMS Sense, deliver:
- Remotely managed, fully automated service monitoring and real-time analytics from fixed locations across the network, providing continuous insights into the quality and performance of new and existing services and applications
- Robust, reliable and automated monitoring, providing a solid grounding for round-the-clock active monitoring of end-user quality of experience (QoE)
- Remote management and control so data can be collected, visualized and analyzed in real-time using TEMS Director
Scalable from a handful to hundreds of units coordinated to test 24/7, TEMS Sense allows mobile operators to view what is happening on every deployed device in real-time, and remotely take over a device to perform any manual testing that may be required.
Learn more about how TEMS Sense can help you realize the benefits of active testing.