By Ranga Thittai, Senior Product Manager, InfoVista
Providing data services can be a bit of a double-edged sword for mobile service providers. On the one hand, data services represent the fastest growing revenue stream for service providers, accounting for up to 50 percent of growth compared with the fairly flat growth from voice services. But on the other hand, the exploding volume of bandwidth-intensive mobile data traffic has made it difficult for operators to ensure the quality and availability of these data services. Failure to do so can have disastrous consequences when it comes to customer retention and revenue. With every dropped call, dropped packet, instance of jitter, or failed download, a mobile service provider risks losing subscribers and high-value business customers to the competition.
So, how can service providers take advantage of the revenue opportunities that delivering mobile data services presents without falling prey to poor quality and churn?
The only way is for service providers to deliver the kind of high-quality, always available services from one end of the network to the other—and back again, that will:
- Differentiate themselves from competitors by assuring a quality end-user experience on data services and applications
- Build trust with and retain high-value business customers, especially where service-level agreements are critical. This is especially applicable to new practices like Machine2Machine (M2M) where Service Providers fiercely compete to establish leadership and dominance.
- Hold third-party application providers and Internet service providers accountable for the quality of the applications traveling over the network
Of course, delivering this level of unquestionable, end-to-end service is easier said than done. The majority of today’s mobile service assurance tools are designed to tackle only one aspect of the mobile delivery chain, such as per-subscriber service monitoring, mobile infrastructure monitoring, or transport and data center monitoring, but not all three at once. This has resulted in a proliferation of tools—making the assurance of the quality of experience an increasingly difficult and expensive proposition.
What service providers need is the ability to manage end-to-end mobile network and service quality in real time, without the cost and delays associated with having to jump between individual OSS toolsets. What is called for is a single, integrated network, service and application performance monitoring solution.
This type of solution should provide data service and application experience of individual subscribers, while also allowing engineers and operations teams to find root causes within the infrastructure entities (both mobile and transport) that may come into play from the data center to the cell tower.
Empowered with this comprehensive visibility, service providers will be able to more quickly troubleshoot and focus on the root causes of service degradation before customers are negatively impacted. It will also help them comprehensively plan network capacities while keeping a view on subscriber behavior and usage for the services offered to the market.
Taking this holistic approach to mobile service assurance will allow service providers to prevent the explosion of data traffic from driving up operations costs, driving down quality of service, and driving away customers.
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