How Mobile Network Operators benefit from active network capacity management
One of the most valuable assets for an operator is the mobile network. The main source of income for an operator is the revenue generated from subscriptions that want to make use of the mobile network. A bad customer experience related to the mobile network will almost immediately cause a decrease in the revenue. Therefore terms like ‘quality of service’ or ‘quality of experience’ are very important for an operator.
The solution sounds simple, ensure that there is enough capacity available on the network.
However, in reality, dimensioning a mobile network is a very complex assignment that consists out numerous (external) factors that influence the available capacity of the network. Here are a few examples:
- Weather conditions – The weather influence the range and capacity of a cell. Rain leads to a weaker signal in a certain area. This effect differentiates if it is raining heavily or even when the rain consists out or big raindrops.
- Maintenance – A mobile network consists of a massive amount of equipment and there is always some sort of maintenance ongoing. In order to safely let the mechanic access a site, the operator needs to shut down all the cells located on that site. This means that the available capacity in that area is strongly reduced.
- Area – An operator needs to take the area into account. Things like Football stadiums, train stations, hospitals or even property development have influence (in their own way) on the capacity needs in a certain area. For instance, when a new residential area is created the capacity need is bound to grow and when a football match is ended there is going to be a (short) peak in the capacity need.
- Innovations – The evolution of smartphones (and apps) have changed the needs of the subscriber drastically. Also the introduction of LTE(4G) and the upcoming 5G the mobile network landscape is changing. With every technology evolution, the capacity is increased but the range of cell is reduced, meaning that more hardware is needed to replace a cell with ‘older’ technology.
- Legislation – The operator(nor vendor) are bound to (local) rules and regulation that limits the transmitting power of the cell but also the height of the site or the allowed frequencies.
- Events – New year’s eve and disasters cause massive peaks in demands.
Expanding a mobile network is very costly, so the operator cannot simply keep adding capacity to its network while on the other hand maintaining a concurrent pricing model. Also, the extra capacity is only required for a (small) period of time, after that the capacity will not be used.
The solution is network capacity management
With capacity management, the operator can influence the behavior of their network. The operator can configure QoS rules that will be applied when certain thresholds are breached. As a result, certain limitations will be applied and subscribers are limited in connectivity, speed or usage of services. By controlling the available capacity the need to expand the capacity for let say new year’s eve is reduced. Meaning that the operator will not be obligated to invest in the costly expansion of their network. With a capacity management solution, the operator has obtained the freedom to choose between expanding or what (percentage of) service needs to be limited.
Capacity management is implemented by the vendors of mobile network hardware based on standards that apply at that moment. As a result, the way capacity is managed differs per technology and per vendor while the majority of the mobile networks are multivendor and consist out of multiple technologies(3G,4G)
If we look back at the aforementioned examples then it is virtually impossible to define one set of QoS rules that apply all the time to the entire mobile network. The best solution for an operator differs per situation (or even per area). These are one of the reasons for Group 2000 to develop LIMA Network Protect.
LIMA Network Protect
Is a multivendor capacity management solution that is designed map (predefined) rules to one or more areas.
Network Protect monitors the network health and it can apply capacity management to all equipment in a certain area. Independent of the technology or vendors that provide coverage in that area.
LIMA network Protect can perform capacity management very locally, up to cell level. However, the solutions also focus on the most fine-grained method to provide the operator with maximal flexibility when it comes to shaping their network. Therefore the solution is also capable of differentiation between services or even applications.
The latter is useful when it comes to DDoS attacks or malicious/ malfunctioning apps that cause a disturbance on the mobile network. Like a few years back the Angry birds game that caused a signaling storm on a mobile network due to a programming error.