5G Requires a New Level of QoS. Are Carriers Prepared?
Some industry insiders say 5G is a real inflection point; just as disruptive as the invention of the internet. In many ways, it’s already becoming a modern-day gold rush, as service providers and businesses of all types work to see how they can leverage this new resource and not get left behind by their competitors and consumers are anxious to know what new services will come. What will life be like with a wireless network that is 100x faster than today’s? The truth is – no one really knows for sure what the full impact will be ten or fifteen years from now. That would require a crystal ball. But we do know that it will spur new applications, new devices and even new industries. And many of these will be mission critical, with connections that power things like autonomous vehicles, remote medicine, smart cities, and someday – even drone taxis. When you factor in that all these new devices, services and applications will be hitting the market, paired with a new technology backbone that depends upon complex, heterogeneous networks, there are plenty of opportunities for missteps and mistakes. With so much at stake, the ability to monitor service quality becomes paramount. It will be up to the operator to manage this Wild West and ensure that the user experience is meeting subscriber (and partner) expectations and critical SLA requirements.
High Customer Expectations
There is no doubt – for carriers, the pressure is on. Thirty-three percent of mobile consumers polled said they expect 5G will be the answer to their connectivity issues, and almost 9 out of 10 would upgrade their phones and pay more for 5G service. But subscribers expect those services to work seamlessly. PwC states that 63% of consumers say they’d share more information with a company that offers a great experience. That’s good news – for those that do it right. Subscribers today have little patience. They expect new services to work right the first time, with little or no friction. If not, they will take their dollars elsewhere.
5G requires a new level of intelligence delivered to the network edge. But that intelligence needs to go both ways, with information coming back from the edge to the carrier, to keep them apprised of things like service and device performance and quality of experience. The only way to do this successfully is to have the ability to analyze and assure the entire service chain – from the core network, to the RAN, and then finally, to the end device.
Why the Service Experience is So Critical for 5G
5G changes everything. The industry, and the world, are moving beyond what we traditionally think of as wireless connectivity; from one phone or tablet to another – with a person at the end of each device. 5G moves us more firmly into the world of IoT, where machines, sensors and other things will talk to each other – with no human needed. It also has the opportunity to move into the realm of the wired internet space. Now that wireless has become an affordable alternative to wired internet, and with speeds that are equal, or even better – it’s also technologically competitive. This is especially appealing to homes and businesses who are tired of dealing with fiber, coax and all manner of electrical cables needed to support today’s traditional IT services. For instance, in a typical hospital, it costs $1,200 to $2,000 for each cable to connect computers to the network, which can add up to $1 million per building, not to mention the hassle of physically installing and maintaining this wired infrastructure. Installing 5G cuts that price tag in half. But this puts wireless carriers in the position of ensuring service to a whole new market and new devices. Are they ready?
Measuring End to End Service Performance
Some of the first new services to market will be virtual (VR) and augmented reality (AR) applications. VR creates an immersive environment of digital graphics, while AR puts digital graphics onto a real environment that you can view through your device. Retailers and others have already jumped on the bandwagon, deciding they don’t want to wait for 5G. Ikea created a virtual reality experience in their stores, and Google Maps is adding augmented reality features that include an AR mode that overlays virtual signs and directional arrows over a live view on your phone to help point the way. These applications – and the millions of others to follow – need low latency and real-time response times to function.
As a network service provider, how do you know if these services are hitting the mark? The additional complexity of the new 5G Core and RAN networks, and virtual deployments, makes it more difficult and expensive to measure QoE. As exabyte-scale data gets generated and crosses into the 5G network (and/ 4G and Wi-Fi networks), it needs to be monitored in real time or as close as possible to real-time for behavior and trend analytics and associated QoS guaranteed at all points of time, especially for mission critical devices. This includes the ability to correlate and predict data from the end user’s smart device to get the insights into real user experiences and trends that carriers – and their partners – want and need. This is valuable information that can be leveraged to improve the user experience, identify monetization strategies and increase customer retention. Finance, Quality, Operations and Planning teams benefit from end-to-end measurement of service performance – from the end-user device through to the internet services consumed by the user.
And it’s not just the service providers that find this information useful. The businesses offering these services such as MVNO’s and OTT providers also benefit from these insights. They want to be assured that the network providers are delivering their contracted level of service, so their customers get the quality experience intended. The only way for carriers to provide this full view is to track service quality at each point along the service path – all the way to the end user device.
TEOCO’s recent acquisition of CIQUAL expands our data capability in-house to include smart device data. This enriches all our products and solutions – including Business Analytics, RAN and Service Assurance. CIQUAL’s technology enables mobile operators – and enterprises – to quickly identify, verify and resolve individual customer affecting issues by correlating in real-time with network, device, location and service reachability Enterprise service providers can monetize these end user behaviors and trends by location, device, service type or performance both on and off the network. On-device visibility of each customer’s actual location-based service performance, and near real-time view of the user experience.
TEOCO is committed to providing our customers with correlated insights of real service experience that drives effective business decisions with the end user in mind. To learn more about how TEOCO helping service providers deliver a better customer experience, take a look at SmartCX.