It is crunch time for mobile operators, especially with mobile data usage rapidly growing, predicted to increase 13-fold by 2017. Mobile operators are tasked with cost-effectively managing that mobile data demand in a way that positively impacts the customer experience, while also making sure new technologies are strategically deployed onto the network to further ensure a positive subscriber experience.
Many mobile operators are now trying out new, innovative tactics to get ahead of the data deluge and give themselves a competitive advantage. One such example was recently highlighted in the Wall Street Journal. The article, “Big Data, Little Servers: Vodafone's Plan to Carry More Mobile Data,” reported that UK mobile operator Vodafone is testing “edge computing” for its mobile services. The hope is that mini data centers placed at mobile cell towers will accommodate bigger and faster mobile data traffic.
This got me thinking — new technologies like mini data centers and network function virtualization (NFV) surely present mobile operators with many benefits, but they also pose quite a few challenges and questions that remain to be answered. For instance, just how are mobile operators supposed to monitor and ensure a high quality of service (QoS) in such fluid networks?
When speaking with our customers, we often answer this question in the context of end-to-end mobile network monitoring. To ensure new investments are living up to expectations, it's critical for network services to be mapped across all domains. By combining this insight with geo-localized subscriber quality information, like call trace analysis, mobile operators can also monitor the direct impact of new deployments on the customer experience. And, perhaps most importantly, they can determine where new technologies will be most effective.
While new technology like mini data centers offers mobile operators a promising solution to the mobile data deluge, its success is contingent upon a wider end-to-end network monitoring initiative. I look forward to hearing more about whether or not Vodafone's “edge computing” initiative translates into a competitive edge.
What do you think of Vodafone's approach? If you're interested in discussing this topic further, please share your thoughts in the LinkedIn group, Telecom Professionals, where I have already started the conversation!