Network Optimization : A Bold New Look

VoicenData Bureau
New Update

In just a few years, India's economy has advanced from one of great

potential, to a major growth engine. With clear positive indicators despite a

slowdown in the western markets, India's economy is expected to maintain its

growth trajectory, growing at a stable 8-9%. While the significant highlight of

this growth story has been the broad-based nature of the growth process, it is

the Information Technology sector that stands out with its impressive growth.

According to a report by eMarketers, India is expected to emerge the second

largest mobile market in the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) nations,

with 560 mn mobile users by 2012. With growth there also arise several



From Traditional Methods to Critical BI

The industry has been very successful in signing up subscribers and a

saturation point has been reached in many mature markets. The resulting

competition to retain and attract new subscribers has catalyzed a fierce

tariff-led battle with voice service becoming a commodity. Service providers are

responding to enhanced competition by searching for higher economies of scale,

reducing operating overheads, achieving a high level of network efficiency, and

improving service quality. While there has been progress in driving network

efficiencies, the industry's approach to network optimization needs to be

transformed. There is a clear need to go beyond traditional drive test

optimization techniques to a more analytical form of performance measurement

which are critical to make the most of network resources and efficiently launch

new services and extend customer loyalty.

When reviewing the progress made over the last 15 years, the industry has

made major improvements in quality of service delivered and in the techniques

used to enhance it. From the first analog voice calls, the user experience has

moved rapidly to a point where subscribers are travelling with extremely

powerful digital multi-function entertainment and communications devices. In

fact, telecommunications companies can justifiably claim to be one of world's

most important and innovative industries. But in a market that's so advanced,

it's incongruous that a vital operations area such as assessing service

performance is based on dated techniques.


Limitations of Traditional Methods

Although drive test assessments provide an indication of network

performance, there are several inherent problems with the process. First, and

perhaps most importantly, is that drive test methods are limited to a specific

moment in time and a specific test route. Secondly, the techniques and processes

applied in evaluating call quality are time and labor intensive. So, it's not

easy to take the volume of measurements required to ensure statistical validity.

Driving to test an area and then going back to the same place to review system

changes also creates a significant overhead at a time when service providers

need to reduce costs. In addition, as much as 70-80% of all calls are made

indoors-services that cannot be assessed accurately. Therefore, a new look at

network analysis is required.

Improved Analysis

Given the resource and competitive pressures faced by the industry,

performance analysis and optimisation should be improved and enhanced to fulfill

a range of business and technical criteria. Recommendations include:

A thorough view from both a network and end-user perspective; data collection

and analysis should consider the entire network area to be optimized; and

monitoring all subscriber traffic both indoor and outdoor to realistically

assess subscriber behavior. It must also take into account geographical

locations and quality of service being experience at the subscriber device.


Consistent performance across multi-vendor infrastructure: The best

optimisation analysis must also be completely multi-vendor capable to be applied

across all infrastructure vendors within an operator's network.

Cost efficiency: New measurement strategies should effectively manage and

reduce the overhead costs associated with traditional tools and methodologies.


Agility: Speed to market is critical; statistically relevant data needs to be

captured quickly and accurately to support fast 'time to performance' changes.

Transparency and visibility of the network: The metrics provided by the

evaluation system should be far more detailed-delivering the intelligence to

make informed decisions about how to enhance capacities, ease the introduction

of new applications and services, reduce dropped calls and deliver overall

network advances that enhance market perception of service quality.

Shared network resources: Moving into the future, with the consolidation of

existing and emergence of new business models, more companies, in order to

reduce operating costs, will take a RAN-sharing approach of network resources.

It is critical, therefore, for multi-vendor optimization analysis to be applied

to these combined network resources. This requirement is also a key feature that

can be applied to securely isolate and measure the performance of individual

services running across the same infrastructure.


Time for a New Approach

These issues have impacted the development of a new approach to

optimization, one based upon gathering user data: Mobile Measurement Report data

(MMR) in 2G systems and raw Radio Resource Control data (RRC) in 3G systems.

This wealth of information gathered from end-user performance metrics, now

available to operators, becomes a rich source of data for developing advanced

optimization analysis and critical business intelligence.

Using Measurement Report (MR) Data: Measurement report data are created by

subscriber handsets. These are typically used and then discarded by the network.

But by applying Motorola's Multi-Vendor Intelligent Optimisation System "MVIOS"

and analysis, the information can be retained, processed and analysed in its

intricate detail. This technology provides a single 'driverless' multi-vendor

assessment tool for the entire network which automatically collects data to

provide both a more advanced, yet cost efficient, monitoring process. Analysis

is based upon real traffic-not average or aggregated data-supplying an

independent and accurate picture of service quality.


Enhanced Optimization

Service providers should assess if test methods are fully compatible with

multi-vendor networks and, importantly, review the entire infrastructure - not

just certain elements such as the RAN or network core. In addition, analysis of

real subscriber traffic usage and location are critical.Only when a complete

view of performance is available — especially at the end-user level - can the

right decisions be made on how best to efficiently manage spectrum allocation,

optimize services, launch new products and cost-efficiently expand capacities

where required.

Optimizing infrastructure: Call failure and troubleshooting analysis is

currently made difficult in UMTS systems through limited OSS counter and drill

mechanisms; the exact nature of faults can be hard to trace. Analysis available

from measurement reports overcomes this problem by providing a greater level of

intelligence to illuminate enhancements that will ensure existing systems

operate at utmost efficiency.

Improving RF performance: With a precise record of interference caused by



Coverage, also provided by user-generated measurement reports, service

providers can execute system modifications to improve optimisation and capacity


SQM and CEM: Multi-layered solutions are available today to assist operators

with better management of their overall end-user services' quality experience.

Enhanced quality can be delivered to meet and exceed subscriber expectations,

deliver prompt response to subscriber issues, and can also help to identify new

service marketing opportunities. These Service Quality Management ("SQM")

solutions provide a consolidated quality view of diverse services and

applications enabled by 2.5G/3G networks, and build upon the foundation of

existing network performance optimisation platforms. Accurate Key Quality

Indicators (KQIs) are derived from analysis of voluminous real user traffic, on

a near real-time basis. With accurate information at near real-time, operators

are able to quickly respond to customer issues, and make management decisions to

improve service accessibility, retainability and quality.

While service quality management solutions generally present aggregated

performance views, the Customer Experience Management solution adds another

important level of view on subscriber groups, their experience with specific

services and specific locations.

Benefits to the operator include: Accurate real-time reporting of service

quality based on real subscriber traffic in wireless networks; Insight into

geographical proximity of subscriber experiences, which can lead to focused

improvement plans; and a comprehensive and concise set of KPI and KQI

definitions based on GSM, 3GPP, 3GPP2 and TM Forum standards.

From Network-Centric to User-Centric

Implementing the right kinds of network and end-user optimisation techniques

can have a critical impact on the success of service providers' businesses.

Along with the anticipation of mobile number portability within India, expected

in 2009-2010, subscribers will require and demand the utmost quality from their

service provider, else a high degree of customer churn will likely occur.

Studies have shown that the single greatest contributor to customer churn is a

level of dissatisfaction with the level of service quality that they receive.

While customer-generated measurement report data sheds an intense light on

performance, it also provides the facts to make better optimisation decisions

for the complete network, which generates a number of efficiencies.

Knowledge is Power

The adage that knowledge is power certainly applies when considering the

analysis capability when implementing user-generated measurement reports into an

end-to-end optimization management plan. The intelligence derived can be applied

to drive maximum return from existing assets, enhance operational efficiencies,

create a superior user experience and smooth the introduction of new application

services. It's an important breakthrough in the quest to rebuild margins by

enhancing returns from capital expenditure while reducing operating costs.

Bob Smith

The author is director, Motorola's global services support practice