Today, Mobile Service Providers find themselves struggling to cope with the increasing demand for capacity whilst maintaining a high level of customer experience. Trying to find the most flexible and cost-effective infrastructure to support next generation services whilst also attempting to reduce customer churn by providing adequate customer level Quality of Experience (QoE) & Quality of Service (QoS) can be difficult to achieve. Essentially, Service Providers are caught between a rock and a hard place.

Subscriber level QoE is a subjective matter that is a balancing act; there are a number of factors which need to be considered:

  • Localised low signal quality
  • Numbers of connections using the network in a particular area
  • The performance of a particular mobile handset
  • Download bitrate
  • Resolution and encoding of video content
  • Responsiveness of mobile or web based applications
  • User service plans

To allow for true Mobile Service Assurance there needs to be a more granular level of understanding of customer experience and service. It’s no longer good enough for a Network Operation Center (NOC) to simply monitor the network. The NOC may be fully operational but customers may still be experiencing a degraded service.

End Users are not interested in average throughput or latency of the network, what they do care about is download speed, uploading pictures to Instagram, Periscope live streaming or watching the replay of that all-important winning goal from the weekend. Today’s challenge is to provide operators with a granular insight into the user’s experience. To do this there needs to be a change in focus towards service quality as well as the continued monitoring of the underlying network.

There are numerous elements which can degrade QoE & QoS such as latency, packet loss & jitter, etc. Operators must have the ability to monitor in real time all traffic which passes through their network, analysing KPI’s to detect trends and to identify anomalies. With the use of deep packet inspection valuable insight can be obtained by inspecting the traffic characteristics of the user or application data. Typically KPI’s for a LTE RAN can be categorised into following subcategories [1]:

  • Accessibility
  • Retainability
  • Integrity
  • Availability
  • Mobility

In my opinion these KPI’s can be primitive in relation to subscriber level QoE. There must be a correlation between user experience, QoS (packet loss, rebuffing etc ) and the physical network itself. Unfortunately, in the real world OSS engineers spend significant amounts of time and effort fine-tuning KPI’s for their deployed infrastructure but it can be worth the effort.

Flexible next generation tools are required to help Operators deliver new services across converged networks and to understand the QoE of the end user. These next generation tools will perform the detailed analysis to ensure both service availability and reliability. Eirteic work with a number of vendors to provide next generation tools to help overcome these hurdles.