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Tag Archives: Network Analytics

Network Capacity Planning – it’s time to stop getting bamboozled!

Network capacity planning is not a piece of cake! It’s a complicated effort that demands several considerations – not just the capacity of the network, but also the type and volume of the traffic at different periods. Network planners should also be able to estimate the current and future capacity needs and make investments wisely.

Capacity planning involves identifying the areas of network congestion and underutilization and distributing the traffic evenly across the available networks. Considering the sheer number of users across the network, it would require considerable effort from the operators to achieve the results. This is important because the ROI from your network investments depends on how efficiently you utilize the resources. Not just that, it also depends on how accurately you estimate future capacity needs.

Well, abnormal traffic scenarios crop up out of nowhere. A catastrophe, a sensational video or a political upheaval can be the cause of a sudden increase in network traffic.  In such cases, all your network planning strategies can go haywire. As you know, it is utterly impossible to predict such situations, but unfortunately, the likelihood of such instances is also very high. The only way out for Telcos is to prepare the networks to confront such challenges before they impact the customer experience.

On the contrary, there are scenarios when the networks remain underutilized for several hours a day or night. This pattern is often cyclic and driven by user habits. For example, network utilization is minimal during nights for almost all customers. For business users, the usage is less during weekends. For network planners, these idle hours translate into a significant business loss. Though they are aware of these facts, many Telcos are still not able to drive strategies to optimize the network during the idle hours.

Let’s now think about the investment. One of the major concerns for an operator is to identify and prioritize the investment areas. Well, you must have identified hundreds of coverage holes where investments are urgently required; however, you may not be able to throw money in all of them at one go, right? How do you prioritize them and pick the best area suitable for your budget? How do you ensure that these investments will yield immediate returns?

It’s a well-known fact that capacity constraints severely impact the customer experience. Today’s on-the-go customers do not compromise quality. Any network issues can result in customer frustration. Hence, identifying the potential areas of capacity constraints becomes a priority in network planning.

Come to the case of VIP customers. They are the elite group not just due to their social status but also because of their relevance in your business. With several thousands of followers, they make an impact with everything they speak or do. If the poor network affects their day’s activities, it will turn out to be a disastrous deal for you. Think how they will directly or indirectly boost your customer base if things happen as per their wish.

Next, is your capacity planning strategy designed in line with your marketing goals? Why should it be so? Well, the first and foremost goal in any marketing strategy is to identify the potential customers. Before launching a promotion, you should first determine who are the best targets for the products. This requires a proactive marketing approach, which means that you should have the products designed with these customers in mind. For example, before launching a 4G offer, you should understand the availability/affordability of 4G phones among your target group. How will you achieve this?

Gaining insights into network traffic, customer usage habits, marketing metrics, and market pulses require a dedicated network planning.

Stay tuned to know how Subex’s approach to capacity planning helps Telcos address these challenges.

Saurabh Bhatnagar

With over 8 years of work experience Saurabh brings a rich blend of diverse strengths and knowledge, encompassing product development, Customer Experience Management, radio network expertise, and business consulting.
In his current role as Director-Business Consulting at Subex, Saurabh is responsible to help improve Subex their Network Analytics portfolio offerings by assessing weaknesses, recommending solutions and performing technical sales.
Prior joining to Subex, he has worked with some of the giants around the globe- Bharti Airtel, Nokia, HCL Technologies and during his association with respective companies he has played crucial roles in UMTS and LTE rollouts. He holds a Master’s Degree focused in International Business from Symbiosis Pune.

Making the Connection

risk of congestion

It’s 7AM and I can’t put off getting up any longer, so I look out the window and see there’s a light frost on the grass, which the weather channel warned me about 3 days ago. An hour later I’m at the train station waiting for the 7:42 which is delayed because the frost has caused the points to seize up in a town 50 miles away, so now the entire South East rail system is completely snarled up. They predicted the weather and probably knew there would be a point’s failure, but still the network crashed. So I need to phone work to let them know I’m going to be late, but I can’t connect. Thousands of other commuters around me are also trying to phone ahead, but the network can’t handle it. It seems to happen every day.

We are surrounded by events which are beyond our control, but often they happen in predictable ways. The points failure was perhaps less predictable than my alarm, but we always knew that when the temperature dropped there would be some kind of failure somewhere that would lead to cancellations and a breakdown of the network. We always knew that rush hour would become an agonising crawl into town on overcrowded trains. The congestion could probably have been avoided if they could have predicted which parts of the network were under the most stress and the impact on the network in the event of failure or congestion at those stress points. Additional resources could then be provided at those points, or alternative routes planned to bypass the congestion and limit the ripple out effect, like a fire break.  The problem is only likely to get worse, and the network more unreliable, as the population increases and more people than ever rely on the rail network to get to work.

With the arrival of LTE and rapidly increasing popularity of Video on Demand then telecoms networks are also facing increasing levels of congestion and instability. Global data traffic is predicted to increase by 10 to 20 times by 2019 (Cisco).   In order to meet regulatory obligations and maintain customer experience Capex is set to spiral upwards. MNOs, who are already facing a year on year decrease in ARPU, will struggle to keep pace with demand and the risk of congestion will be ever present.

As with rail networks MNOs need a longer term strategy in place to understand where and when future choke points in the network will occur so that the risk of congestion can be eliminated for the least cost. Subex Capacity Management provides the capability to predict these points of congestion by monitoring and correlating metrics from across the network to provide detailed forecasts of network utilisation. Additional factors can be brought into the forecasts, such as the impact of major events or the rolling out of M2M services and different scenarios played out to understand how the network will respond. By automating the forecasting process network managers can be alerted long before issues become critical and congestion begins to occur. They can evaluate different options for either re-homing traffic or augmenting the network for the least possible cost. Stranded or un-utilised assets can even be recovered and re-located to satisfy demand for very little cost.

CFOs need to find ways to keep increasing revenue while controlling costs, and CTOs need to keep network delivering ever greater speeds as volumes of traffic increase exponentially.  Both need to look into the future to avoid a future of network instability, falling quality, crippling network costs and lost revenue.

Mark Jenkins

Mark Jenkins has worked in the IT industry for over 15 years as a BI and Analytics consultant, and more recently as ROC Product Manager for Subex Ltd. He has designed and deployed solutions for global companies in many sectors including Insurance, utilities and telecommunications. Mark holds a BSc Hons in Computer Science from Manchester University (UK).

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