The A – Z of mobile network analytics: Part 2
The telecommunications industry has hundreds, if not thousands of terms and abbreviations that are used on a daily basis. In the second part of our A-Z, we drill down to some of today’s top terms in Mobile Network Analytics:
Big data monetisation is the process of generating new revenue streams through leveraging data as an asset. There are two key branches to data monetisation, the first is the process of selling data, for example contact details or customer insights. The second is using data internally to identify upsell opportunities to increase customer value.
Network performance management
Network performance management is the analysis of network data to understand how the network is performing, and how it can be improved. This forms a major part of Network Operations Centres (NOC), which often run 24/7. Network engineers analyse data such as dropped call rates, call setup failures and bit error rates. This data is used to plan network maintenance schedules and optimise the performance of the existing network infrastructure, says Mark Slinger, head of Product at SysMech.
The term OSS transformation has been rising in popularity over the past 10 years. As new network generations have been introduced, the network architecture and associated tools to manage it have increased in complexity. Traditionally operational support systems would specialise on a specific technology and network domain, for example 2G RAN. Today, as CSPs transition from network focused to service focused organisations, these legacy OSS systems are no longer fit for purpose. OSS transformation aims to change the way in which networks are manged, with a centralised tool for all network generations across all network domains.
When measuring the detail of a customer’s end-to-end service performance, passive and active probes can help. Combined with other data sources, such as mobile agent statistics, they can be an effective way to gain service performance insights, enabling real-time and historical end-to-end call tracing from the user device to the core network. In essence, they watch all the traffic that flows through the network, and filter out individual transactions to compute the service quality experienced by each call or data transfer. They provide granular data that allows service operators to determine the service quality at a per-service (QoS) and per-user (QoE) granularity, across multiple transport technologies.
For many major CSPs, quad-play represents a significant new revenue stream with great potential for growth. It is the latest offer to attract customers and conquer the market, by combining fixed line telephony, broadband, and paid TV with mobile services. Operators that can successfully offer ‘the fantastic four’ could realise several times the revenue of a basic access service. It is predicted that by 2020 UK quad-play revenues will triple. Quad-play brings its own challenges to ensure the best customer experiences as churn can affect all services and not just mobile.
Real-time, or near real-time data is essential for CSPs to successfully manage and optimise their networks. Some network elements push out data as regularly as every 5 minutes, and network engineers need to see this as soon as possible. It allows them to monitor the real-time availability and quality of the network, and rapidly schedule maintenance on network elements having the greatest impact to service.
Self-Organising network (SON) is an automation technology which analyses mobile network data and automatically responds to it to enable rapid planning, optimisation and maintenance. SON enables CSPs to reduce their operational costs and protect revenue by eliminating human error.
Topology is the physical and logical map of all network elements and the links between them. Physical topology demonstrates the physical location of network elements, whereas logical topology demonstrates the flow of data between them, regardless of physical locations. Accurate topology is essential to CSPs for efficient network planning, optimisation and maintenance.
Umbrella performance management
The term Umbrella Performance Management is sometimes used to refer to OSS Transformation. When we talk about OSS Transformation, we are talking about a carefully planned process to reform the vast and costly operational support systems infrastructure. This transformation may take considerable time to achieve and have many intermediate steps.
Voice over LTE(VoLTE) has seen some delays in launch, which can be attributed to both technical challenges and a justification to the cost, as well as challenges surrounding customer experience. Last year, VoLTE deployment across the globe went from 16 to 40 deployments, indicating that is still a priority for many operators.
Wi-Fi offload is the process of transferring mobile traffic over onto a Wi-Fi connection when cell reception is poor, or to free up bandwidth on the mobile network. The surge in mobile data traffic has increased the need for Wi-Fi offload, and brought about the rise in Femtocells – low power base stations for the home and office, which re-route calls over a local broadband connection.
X-domain (cross domain)
Cross domain (or X-domain) refers to the ability to manage data across multiple network domains, such as radio, transmission and core. This is an important part of OSS transformation. It allows CSPs to stitch together the different components of a call to get a single view of the service performance, no matter what network elements it passes through. This enables a single ‘voice call’ experience metric, which helps CSPs further understand how their subscribers experience their services.
YouTube…and other OTT services
Over-the-top (OTT) services deliver video, audio and messaging over the internet, without the involvement of the CSP. YouTube is a prime example, in which subscribers utilise their mobile data subscription to access videos, turning the CSP into a pipe as opposed to a leader in content delivery. OTT messaging service such as WhatsApp and Facebook have had a dramatic impact on CSPs bottom lines, by reducing the amount of SMS/MMS messages subscribers send. As such CSPs have been looking at alternative ways to offer competing functionality.
Zero down time
CSPs need to access their data 24/7 to successfully ensure high quality of service. While zero down time may seem an impossibility, operators must at least be aware of the true costs of downtime, outages and failures. Today’s network management platforms can help operators get as close to zero down time as possible, and to better understand what is going on across their networks so that they can fix what is wrong and get new products and services to market ahead of the competition.
To see the first part in our A – Z of Mobile Network Analytics, click here.
The author of this blog is Mark Slinger, head of Product at SysMech.
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