What’s needed to ensure a high quality of experience is a framework with all the features that are necessary to pro-actively monitor and measure telecom network performance.
Telecom operators are aggressively evolving their networks to support various new-age digital technologies. They are focusing on keeping up to expectations of network subscribers for high bandwidth and last-mile coverage. One of the key moves is to transform the 4G/5G LTE network core into virtualized functions based to reduce the overheads and provide optimal availability. But at the same time, it is important to retain the existing customers and provide them with the best network experience for all use cases and devices they use. One way to do this is to improve the user’s quality of experience (QoE).
Currently, as per the statistics, there are over 130 million android devices, more than 1.5 billion iOS devices, and 6.2 billion LTE subscriptions globally. A large part of the bandwidth of telecom networks is consumed for video streaming and voice-related applications on mobile devices.
With such a growing number of devices and LTE subscriptions, telecom operators want to emphasize improving user experience by continuous advancements of QoE of network performance. The loyalty of network subscribers will depend on the QoE level, and for that operator will need to be aware of the quality of experience level.
QoE focuses on the end-user perspective to measure the network performance and attribute the user perception about the effectiveness and quality of the system or service. This is somewhat like the active test where users express their opinions about the network quality. In a nutshell, quality of experience measurement is a combination of all the network performance metrics (latency, packet loss, jitter, throughput, etc.) and quantifies the network if it is meeting the user’s expectations.
For example, a subscriber is using XYZ 4G network that has the capability to provide higher bandwidth to every user who opted for it, but the subscriber is facing interrupted streaming of video, voice, or OTT applications. He can further look for another telecom operator who has better services. Thus, it simply implies QoE deals with a user-level satisfaction of video, voice, and data services delivered to end-user devices.
To ensure a better quality of experience, telecom operators want to leverage both active and passive testing to:
- pro-actively monitor for network degradation issues like weak signal strengths, last-mile coverage, etc
- automatically and quickly push the network problems to the technical team and administrators
- monitor, detect and reduce subscriber complaints
Telecom operators conduct manual drive tests in case of problems within the network. Problems can be weak signal strength or anything related to data delivery on mobile devices. Various standalone drive test tools are used to test the network within the coverage area affected by network issues. Such tools do not offer reports/dashboards and any further features that help reduce manual and tedious tasks. With such tools, you need to process the output to every layer that results in a delay in resolving issues.
After identifying the network issues, operators would require logging the details of issues to the OSS layer that includes Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems or all similar business software systems that have open APIs so it can place work-order for technical teams. Updating such operations systems and maintaining records for each operation can be a cumbersome task for operators. Due to such manual systems, it is difficult to create a single pane of glass that shows areas with network issues.
Another crucial requirement for telecom operators is to understand the customer feedback along with the network where he/she is located and the device configuration. Operators want to monitor and collect network and device specifications to analyze the overall performance issue from the devices themselves. This is known as passive testing that provides the exact logs using which a deep analysis can be performed about network health. This test not just helps troubleshoot the problem at the subscriber’s end, but it collects useful insights that can help in making critical decisions related to the network and strategizing future steps.
The above requirement is to validate and check specific web applications and portals on a different part of the network. Some common and widely used web apps and platforms are used heavily in the pandemic with remote working. But accessibility to those was different in different network segments. For example, user experience can be varied with SaaS solutions like Google Drive or OneDrive and video conferencing applications like Zoom. It became important for telecom operators to keep that in focus while testing and measuring networks.
Such scenarios call for a unified platform that can encapsulate every aspect to observe, test, measure, and validate the network performance parameters. Also, it can integrate with existing telecom OSS systems seamlessly using APIs to push the network-related updates. A similar platform can also be used to receive both – passive and active information from user network devices to deeply analyze the issue.
What’s needed is a framework equipped with all the features that are necessary to pro-actively monitor and measure telecom network performance issues. It should have the SDK that can be co-integrated with other applications to push and gather analytics data.