Leveraging geo-analytics to deliver on your network quality promises
By Gavin Hayhurst, Head of Product Marketing
Since the earliest mobile networks, optimization engineers have been tasked with continually improving the network and delivering on the key performance indicator (KPI) targets set by management. Historically, this has been done by analyzing cell performance counters, which highlight dropped calls and other issues. The intent is that by identifying and optimizing the worst-performing cells, engineers can continuously improve the network.
Unfortunately, network performance counters often don’t tell the complete story. It is quite common for all the counters to look good, while subscribers are still frustrated by poor performance. Sadly, it is also possible to ‘tune’ a network to meet KPI’s in order to earn remuneration bonuses, while making the experience worse for customers!
As mobile phones have become more entrenched in all aspects of people’s daily lives, customers have come to expect flawless service. If that’s not provided, they will often quickly churn to a competitor’s network. Therefore, subscriber quality of experience has become a critical competitive differentiator for most mobile network operators.
Moving beyond cell performance, engineers can gain an understanding of network performance – from the customer’s point of view – by leveraging geo-located subscriber experience data. With this, each problem can be precisely located, making it much more intuitive to quickly resolve issues and improve the network.
A day in the life of an optimization engineer
So, how might an optimization engineer leverage geo-analytics to go about their daily tasks more successfully?
Network Monitoring – Optimization engineers need to be able to spot, at a glance, if something is not right. This is often achieved with KPI dials, or red/amber/green traffic lights that leverage data from performance counters or aggregated geo-located data. While dials, traffic lights, and trend graphs are helpful, it’s the geo-located data that provides additional value in the form of heatmaps, immediately highlighting where in the network KPI breaches are concentrated.
Continuous Improvement – Optimization engineers work daily to improve the network. The typical approach is to locate the worst-performing sites and improve their performance. Doing this on a regular basis will eventually lift overall network performance and improve network level KPI’s. Geo-located data can provide valuable insights to assist engineers in determining the changes they should make. For example, by identifying where calls are being dropped, an engineer can determine the best course of action. Is the issue happening close to the cell site? In a null between two sectors? At the cell border, or in an area where the cell is not meant to provide coverage? Having this information helps determine the best fix. It would be much harder if all you had were the cell statistics, and it might take a few attempts before the problem was resolved.
Investigation – Once a problem is detected, it falls on the optimization engineers to identify the root cause and determine the best course of action. But once again, when all you have is data from performance counters, this is often more difficult than it sounds. With geo-located data, engineers can identify problems at a high level and then drill down, all the way to Layer 3 messages from individual calls, making it much easier to identify the root cause.
Customer Complaints – Perhaps the least favorite part of any optimization engineer’s job is addressing customer complaints. This typically involves visiting the unhappy customer and attempting to recreate the experience with a test phone. If all goes well, the engineer can recreate the issue and the data gathered by the test phone will be analyzed and the situation can be resolved. Of course, this relies on reproducing the poor performance, which is often harder than it sounds. With a geo-location solution, an engineer with the necessary authorization can investigate the actual call where the issue occurred. They will be able to see exactly where the problems reside, without the need to reproduce them. This makes finding a resolution that much easier and quicker.
VIP Monitoring – Instead of reactively dealing with customer complaints, a geo-location solution can proactively monitor network quality for VIPs. By filtering data to create a defined list, you can keep a close eye on your most important subscribers. This can also be done for groups of VIPs, making it possible, for example, to monitor performance within key corporate accounts
Of course, it goes without saying that investigating and monitoring customer calls cannot be undertaken lightly. This activity needs to be underpinned by a solution that follows rigorous security protocols, while ensuring the utmost respect for subscriber privacy.
How can TEOCO help?
CogniSense is a geo-analytics solution designed to address all the optimization scenarios described above. Our dashboards monitor daily network, subscriber, and device performance. ‘Worst performer’ dashboards identify and isolate the root cause of critical issues, helping to continuously improve the network. CogniSense also includes a dedicated subscriber module for investigating customer complaints, and another that proactively monitors network performance for VIP customers. All of this is underpinned by GDPR-compliant security and privacy.