The Service Assurance Challenge

Mobile Networks are complex things that appear to be getting more complex all the time and not just due to the technology involved.

There are just over 4 million people in Ireland, yet we have 8 Mobile Networks (4 physical and 4 MVNO’s) to choose from, and thanks to Irish and EU legislation it has never been easier to move operators while keeping your phone number.

I read an article recently about how the EU is going to make a final decision soon on the proposed acquisition of O2 Ireland (Telefonica – Spain) by Three Ireland (Hutchinson Whampoa – Hong Kong) which may result in UPC (Liberty Global – USA) getting its own mobile offering — allowing it to compete with eircom (Ireland) in offering converged quad play services (Mobile, Landline, Broadband and TV) in the Republic of Ireland. Mergers, acquisitions, partnerships, regulators, legislation, MVNO’s, and outsourcing are all things that increase the complexity of modern mobile services. Everyone knows that most, if not all, operators are launching LTE/4G services, and we all will have super-fast services to our phones as a result.

Most people probably don’t realize that operators in most countries reduce the cost of their infrastructure by sharing their networks with their competition. In the UK for example, there are only two mobile Radio Access Networks (RAN’s), MBNL (EE and Three) and Cornerstone (Vodafone and O2), which most people have probably never heard of. RAN sharing is where the operator’s networks most expensive pieces – the cell sites and towers, base station equipment, and the transmission network – are built and managed separately and then shared between competitors. This results in lower costs, by reducing duplication of network assets and allowing operators to deliver better services for less money.

The Shared RAN is a great idea but the management of it is vitally important, because the speed at which new services and converged offerings are being deployed is putting a lot of strain on the networks. The ability to quickly and efficiently manage those services while keeping track of the entire infrastructure is a very complex set of tasks. Operators and MVNO’s are requiring detailed monitoring and reporting of the services provided to them by the Shared RAN and without the proper tools this is an increasingly complex and difficult task.

Legacy OSS tools don’t exactly make it easy for the operators of these Shared RAN’s to provide real-time Unified Service Assurance reporting to their customers. Multi-tenancy is a core requirement for these businesses and this is something that is lacking in a lot of legacy systems. The ability to quickly, securely and accurately provide detailed, relevant, information on their services to the appropriate customers is a core requirement for Shared RAN’s. Monolith Software’s AssureNow™ platform enables them to do this and provides the solid foundation for monitoring of future services and technologies.