Quality Of Experience & Drive Tests
To ensure high User’s QoE (Quality of Experience), Mobile Network Operators (MNO) needs to have clear pictures of their live network. In fact, real-world subscriber and traffic data needs to be incorporated at each level of the plan-build-operate radio access network (RAN) lifecycle, in order to best execute network densification and optimization efforts.
So far, operators spent enormous amounts of time and money to collect radio measurements, to optimise network performance and Quality Of Experience. These radio measurements are usually collected by test equipment running on cars driven by operators and then analyzed to derive the optimal parameters to apply to networks. Drive Tests have to be performed extensively to collect radio measurements around the concerned areas. Based on the collected data, optimal parameters are derived carefully, with further impact analysis in the laboratory.
Once the optimal parameters have been selected, the parameters are applied to the networks and other set of driving tests is carried out to evaluate the impact of the parameters tuning. Such calibration may have to be repeated until the expected level of performance is achieved. A change in the radio environment may take place when a cell site is newly installed or even when new buildings are constructed. Deployment of heterogeneous networks, for example, pico/femto cells, drastically complicates the radio environment. To ensure a good quality of service to subscribers under such circumstances, more extensive and frequent driving tests are required, which increases the operational costs. With this in mind, operators have been seeking more efficient solutions.
Refer to our article: Mobile Networks Optimization
Quality Of Experience & MDT
Nowadays, thanks to the introduction of MDT (Minimization of Driving Tests), it is possible to reduce the amount od Drive Tests and associated costs to measure the Quality Of Experience. MDT is a standardized mechanism introduced in Release 10 to provide operators with network performance optimization tools in a cost efficient manner.
Logged MDT is the procedure by which the UE performs logging of measurement results and reporting of the logged measurement results. By the definition of logging, the UE stores and accumulates measurement results within its memory. The logged measurement results indicate the availability to eNB if all of the following conditions are met such as log availability condition, RAT condition and PLMN condition.
In this way, the central BI is then able to manage all info to derive optimal parameters with less costs.
As follows there are some MNO use cases directly connected to MDT data:
- Coverage Optimization
- Deployment of new base stations cells
- Construction of new highways, railways or major buildings
- Customer’s complaints
- Periodic drive tests
- Mobility optimization
- Capacity optimization
- Parametrization of common channels
- QoS verification
In the above list are not included different use cases that MNO, as well as different players, could use to monetise all collected data by different BI analysis!
Self-Organizing Network – SON
A Self-Organizing Network, or commonly SON, is an automation technology designed to make planning, configuration, management, optimization and healing of mobile radio access networks simpler and faster.
Technology Vendors, as well as third parties companies, are pushing about SON but so far SON deployments are concerned, they are not happening anywhere near what the market was hoping for.
Today’s SON provides many positive attributes and is being deployed widely in the name of process automation and operational cost reduction. However, Frost & Sullivan concludes that the technology and the standards around it will evolve gradually alongside 4G deployments, 5G introductions, NFV, and SDN, to become a more comprehensive solution. SON will eventually span all network segments (access, core, and backhaul) as well as all aspects of the business (cost, profitability, performance, and customer experience). Like other all-encompassing new business strategies, the full realisation of SON and its significant business benefits will surface gradually over the next 3 to 5 years as service providers and even large enterprises engage with automation, data analysis, and network definition in ways never tried before. Currently, SON comprises tools from several existing software solutions.
Going forward, each network elements will need to be more intelligent, predictive, and responsive. This will happens as soon as 5G deploy will start massively. In fact, 5G will bring with it low latency, speed and the capacity to manage tremendously dense networks: hardware toward software, software toward hardware. Together, intelligent infrastructure and software-automated processes will make SON a full reality.
As far as SON’s impact on the network optimization market is concerned, drive test, in particular, has not been terribly drastic. SON’s proposition is very attractive; however, the technology has not proven its complete success as promised in the network optimization area. SON is still in a rather delicate state. If the technology is not deployed correctly, it can harm the network, yet, with time, SON will improve and become more reliable.
MDT is making quick inroads into the wireless network test equipment market. Infrastructure vendors are determined to significantly minimise the amount of drive test needed in the future, which will reduce their costs.vEven though MDT is prevailing, drive test will remain vital to operators and infrastructure vendors as it is the most reliable solution today. Furthermore, Indoor testing is increasing; however, growth has not been yet as aggressive as originally predicted. Indoor testing solutions tend to be more expensive than drive testing because they serve a very concentrated area. End users still need to test on the macro level, where drive testing is crucial.
During early 2020, the SARS-CoV-2 virus rapidly spread worldwide, forcing many governments to impose strict lockdown measures to tackle the pandemic. This significantly changed people’s mobility and habits, subsequently impacting how they use telecommunication networks. In this view, a solution to power the SON could be the Crowdsourcing. It has not shown high revenue numbers and remains in the initial stages due to controversies over using collected data. Currently, has a minimal impact on the wireless network test equipment market but it could be the real disruptive solution to reduce MNO costs on Network Optimization Activities.
The key competitive factors for market growth of MNO will be based on End-user experience, QoS, and after-sales services. All these could be managed by using a crossed solution between: Crowdsourcing, MDT & SON!