At MWC 2018, Sweden-based network equipment provider (NEP) Ericsson announced that T-Mobile US is using its Ericsson Expert Analytics (EEA) platform to deliver improved quality of experience (QoE) for VoLTE services, as well as for other mobile services. While there are benefits to offering VoLTE services, assuring these services is challenging. CSPs need to take advantage of big data analytics tools with real-time capabilities to obtain an end-to-end view of the network and respond proactively to network scenarios that could impact customers' experience of the service.
Having grown the number of VoLTE calls to 80% of voice calls made on its network, T-Mobile US is now focused on ensuring that VoLTE calls receive the best experience. T-Mobile US has selected Ericsson's EEA platform to provide its engineers with the required real-time and offline visibility into the network to serve multiple use cases that ensure that QoE of VoLTE services is maintained.
While delivery of VoLTE services offers CSPs opportunities to increase revenues, optimize network efficiency (as CSPs can leverage one network to deliver voice- and data-based services), improve operating models,and deliver better voice quality services to end users, the rollout and management of these services are complex. The quality of any voice service over an IP infrastructure (as in the case of VoLTE) are more susceptible to problems and delays over the entire network (radio network, transmission, core, and application services) than the mature traditional cellular voice services.
Factors such as health of the IP Multimedia Systems (IMS) infrastructure, VoLTE coverage, interoperability between operator networks, and device compatibility need to be addressed to assure QoE. For example, given that VoLTE deployments are not pervasive, VoLTE calls may be required to handover to 2G or 3G legacy circuit-switched networks to ensure continuity of calls. Consequently, the siloed approach to network management would not work, but the end-to-end monitoring and management of entire network infrastructure will be required. Therefore, it is essential for CSPs to invest in tools that provide full visibility into all parts of the network to monitor and troubleshoot all service impacting issues. Being able to manage network performance in real time enables CSPs to deliver better experience to customers.
EEA has been developed to provide real-time network visibility to enable the management of CSP services including new services such as VoLTE. EEA includes a big data analytics platform that ingests, analyzes, and correlates data from multiple radio technologies – 2G, 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi, narrowband IoT and multivendor radio, packet core, and IMS networks – providing insights on network conditions degrading service performance. EEA comes with a suite of prepackaged analytics applications to address CSP analytical needs such as service operations, customer care, product management, and marketing. Most of the capabilities delivered using EEA have been inherited from preexisting products such as Ericsson Experience Manager, Ericsson Revenue Management, Ericsson Network Manager, and Ericsson Order Care.
VoLTE service deployments will continue to increase, albeit slowly, with connections expected to form a significant proportion of CSPs' total mobile connections by 2021. According to Ovum's Enhanced Telco Communications Tracker: 3Q17, commercial VoLTE services increased from 76 at end-3Q16 to 97 by end-3Q17.These deployments are expected to increase as Ovum forecasts the number of connections increasing from 324 million in 2016 to 3.3 billion in 2021, at a CAGR of 59%.With our Mobile Connections Forecast: 2017–22 predicting that mobile connections would get to 8,138 connections by 2021, VoLTE would account for more than 40% of the total mobile connections.Going forward, VoLTE services will be critical to CSPs' business and, therefore, CSPs must take proactive steps by investing in tools that will assure the QoE of these services.
Mobile Connections Forecast: 2017–22, CES003-000122 (February 2018)
Enhanced Telco Communications Tracker: 4Q17, CES001-000012 (February 2018)
VoLTE Connections Forecast: 2016–21, TE0014-000431 (January 2017)
Ovum Decision Matrix: Selecting a Customer Analytics Solution for Telcos, 2017–18, SPT001-000003 (December 2017)
"Telcos deploy different types of enhanced communications services to boost retention," CES001-000009 (January 2018)
Adaora Okeleke, Senior Analyst, Telecoms Operations and IT