Operators need to optimize radio access networks to contend with global doubling of demand for data and new services like VoLTE
Small Cell Magazine, First Quarter, 2016 — New research has uncovered the need for operators to consider optimizing their radio access networks (RAN). While there are many potential solutions to the upcoming data tsunami, this is a relatively easy way for operators to contend with the annual doubling of demand for data. It’s also a relatively easy way for operators to contend with increased network complexity, increased demand for video viewing on smartphones and tablets, and the initial instability of newly introduced services such as voice over LTE (VoLTE).
The research is based on analysis of more than 25 million voice and data connections from 80 different network operators around the world in the past 12 months.
Key findings include:
• VoLTE call drops can be four to five times higher than calls on 2G or 3G networks: VoLTE is an important and strategic service for operators as it offers operating expense (OPEX) and capital expense (CAPEX) reductions through the promise of repurposing 2G and 3G services. However, this study suggests that the quality of the initial, post-deployment VoLTE experience can be less stable than the traditional voice service it replaces, unfortunately requiring aggressive tuning by the operator.
• Network data demand is increasing every year: Research suggests that the volume of mobile data usage is growing across the world at approximately 60 percent year-on-year(1), particularly with increased demand for video on devices providing better entertainment opportunities to mobile users. However, as the study highlights, with only 5 to 15 percent of Wi-Fi traffic going through mobile devices in a way that may be accurately described as Wi-Fi offload, service providers need to offload more traffic from cellular networks to Wi-Fi networks in order to realize greater cost and operational efficiencies.
• In-building accounts for 75 percent of network traffic in cities: In times of network congestion, indoor users face an increase in network issues of up to 25 percent compared to outdoors users. By understanding and visualizing the real-world patterns of demand, coverage and congestion, operators can effectively target network optimization efforts at these problem areas to deliver a consistent, quality of network experience.
• Music and sporting events create their own mobile ecosystems: SMS is still the killer app. An average of 70 percent of concert or sporting event attendees will send at least one text message during an event, causing spikes in network usage. This uncovers the need to manage network capacity during music and sporting events — with network cells around an event’s location carrying approximately 50 percent more traffic than the cells inside a stadium, for example. Research data indicate that event attendees communicate significantly with fellow event attendees via email, text and social media. Interestingly, data also show that international roamers upload almost 50 percent more data at events than non-roamers.
• International roamers suffer a poorer network experience: Despite the fact that international roamers can offer operators greater revenues than a corresponding locally based subscriber, their network experience can rate as much as 25 percent worse. There is an opportunity for operators to realize greater monetization of services by isolating profitable international roamers — understanding their distinct usage patterns and optimizing the network to better target and serve them.
Mobile networks are already under a great deal of strain. Going forward, service providers will have to deliver a first-class network experience when and where it matters most. Optimizing RANs will allow the service providers to achieve better operational efficiencies, as well as improved service agility, with a centralized vendor-neutral approach.
Amdocs is a software and services provider to more than 250 communications, media and entertainment service providers in more than 90 countries. The company also offers carrier-grade big data analytic solutions.
1. Gartner 2015 research “Market Trends: Mobile Video Apps and Data Plans- Usage and Future” and “Forecast: Mobile Data Traffic, Worldwide, 2011-2018.”