Mobile experience on the move
We all know the feeling. You get onto a train with a two-hour journey ahead of you, settle into your seat, and get out your phone or tablet. You expect to stay connected throughout the journey to stream that TV program you’ve been meaning to watch, or browse the business magazine you haven’t had time to read in the office.
Or maybe you’re in the passenger seat of your co-worker’s car on the motorway, and you need to check some facts online before you get to your meeting. Increasingly we expect to have the same seamless mobile experience when we are in a fast-moving vehicle as when we’re at home or in the office, says Assaf Aloni, VP Marketing at CellMining.
Sadly, the real experience often doesn’t measure up to expectations. Although mobile network operators have generally arranged for their base stations to be well distributed along the length of major highways and train lines, the need for handover at high speed combined with the fluctuations in demand mean that downloading can be patchy, and dropped connections are a frequent occurrence. In fact, with all the negative factors that can impact on data sessions at high speed and the challenges that need to be overcome, sessions that run smoothly and don’t disconnect can be considered a minor technology miracle.
Analysing the impact of the mobile experience on the user is not a simple task. Sophisticated analytics are required to reconstruct call and data session flows for the highly-mobile subscriber so that performance issues can be identified and rapid action taken to mitigate them. Behind every good quality experience of movie streaming on a handset stands a good network optimisation solution, powered by great network analytics.
Three fundamental challenges make highways a unique case in respect of network optimisation:
- The need to differentiate a rapidly-moving subscriber in a vehicle from one who is stationary
- The need to support rapid and very frequent handoffs between different cell sites
- The cost of physical drive tests, traditionally used to source data for network optimisation solutions
These make it an ideal use case for a self-optimising networks (SON) solution based on subscriber Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
A custom CEM module that is able to identify subscribers who are driving and distinguish them from stationary ones will be able to determine whether there are network quality, coverage or capacity glitches affecting road users and identify them. This module is able to provide a new source of data not available to solutions that monitor only cell performance and KPIs.
Each vehicle occupant with a mobile phone then in effect becomes a virtual drive tester, allowing the operator to trigger appropriate measures to better optimise the relevant cell sites, using precisely tuned ANR settings, cell coverage and overshooting scenarios, and MRO optimisation. Putting the subscriber at the centre of the network analytics becomes a very practical way of providing those subscribers with the best possible highway mobile experience.
Looking forward to the future, the trend towards Connected Cars will bring with it an even greater need for rigorous subscriber network analytics capabilities. But not only this – the additional touchpoints will also provide a rich new source of real-time data that can be fed into those analytics to drive an optimum experience of all users, whether they are humans or machines.
The author of this blog is Assaf Aloni, VP Marketing at CellMining.
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