25 NOVEMBER 2015

More and more companies are relying upon cloud based services and software, and for good reason – it’s quick, easy and cost-effective.

By Dimitris Dernikas, Head of Services at TEOCO

Network operators today face a wide range of challenges. They need to get the most out their network infrastructure and equipment; keep capital expenditure (CAPEX) under control, and provide excellent coverage for their customers.

With demand for mobile data soaring, operators are finding it harder to meet these challenges. Over the top applications like Skype, YouTube and Netflix are changing the way in which people live and work, but they are also putting networks under enormous strain. Global mobile data traffic is set to reach 52 million terabytes (TB) in 2015, an increase of 59 percent from 2014, according to Gartner, Inc. This rapid growth is set to continue through 2018, when mobile data levels are estimated to reach 173 million TB. To meet the increasing demand for mobile bandwidth, many operators are in the process of upgrading and optimizing their networks, and densifying their cellular architecture.

All this demand is putting new pressure on operators to ‘up their game’ when it comes to network planning and optimization. The stakes have never been higher – margins are eroding and revenues are simply not keeping pace with the cost of providing quality service.

Moving to the cloud

At present, the majority of operators either plan and optimize their network infrastructure in-house, which has its own challenges, or they decide to outsource it to a large network equipment vendor, who is often motivated to sell expensive equipment for the CSP to ‘fix’ the problems they’ve identified. This clearly can become a conflict of interest.  For those operators that manage this process in house, this may give operators direct control over their assets, but there are still a number of risks associated with it. In some cases, operators may struggle to find the experienced teams required for these specialized tasks. Or they may not have the latest systems in place, and find themselves in the situation of attempting to manage and plan their network based on outdated technology.

In some cases, it makes much more commercial sense to securely outsource the planning and optimization of network assets to a cloud-based solution with a team of unbiased experts at the helm. This approach allows operators to access planning and optimization services on an as-needed, pay as you go basis. For example, a network operator may want to use a geo-located traffic raster to drive the design of new sites or the optimization of an existing layer. With a cloud service, CSPs can gain access to the latest network planning tools available, with literally no CAPEX investment or ramp up time required. Then, just as easily, discontinue use when it’s no longer needed.

By taking this pay as you go approach to network planning and optimization, network operators can reduce their total cost of ownership and have access to the very latest technology. On top of this, a cloud-based model eliminates the need for operators to invest their capital in expensive equipment and personnel, which can be especially difficult for smaller operators. But this approach works well for large, tier-one operators also. Typically, these are companies that are comfortable and experienced at outsourcing and can see the benefits of working with an expert team who can improve their network planning and optimization on a continual basis.

It is worth noting that more and more companies – even those in sensitive industries like finance and IT – are now outsourcing parts of their core business and are reaping tremendous benefits. Providing a vendor has the ability and experience to securely manage data across multiple geographies and meet local laws and regulations, there isn’t any reason why a service provider shouldn’t consider making the move to a cloud services approach for optimizing their network.

Selecting a partner

There are several additional things that an operator should look for in a prospective outsourcing partner before taking the plunge.

First of all, they should look for a company that has a proven track record in managing network complexity. Secondly, they should search for someone that is not overly reliant on another technology vendor, which could limit their effectiveness. TEOCO, for example, works with a variety of different suppliers and is completely platform agnostic. Lastly, they should search for a provider that has both a strong command and expertise and who can provide the latest and most accurate tools and systems for network planning and optimization. They must be true experts in their field, because that is the real value they bring to the table.

In closing, a cloud-based service often makes the most sense – both from a cost and ease of use perspective. It doesn’t require any significant capital outlay, allows an operator to scale up and down its resources as needed, and teams with years of expertise are available around the clock. TEOCO has many years of experience providing network-critical outsourced solutions to some of the world’s largest communication service providers. For more information on how we can help, visit www.teoco.com.