Carrier networks made to measure

May 04, 2017 //By Ross Cassan, Spirent Communications
Users churning between carrier networks may not realise just how finely these services are tuned to their devices, their service expectations, traffic patterns and possible overload scenarios. Customizing the mobile core to meet the demands of a smartphone generation is already a fine art, but it is nothing to the IoT and other challenges that lie ahead. We already have the test solutions to meet all these challenges, argues Ross Cassan, Director, Product Marketing, Spirent Communications. We just need to apply them more widely.

The twentieth century saw the decline in made to measure, bespoke goods and services. Henry Ford epitomised the new “any colour as long as it’s black” way of thinking: standardise, limit choice and build a focused mass market, cut production costs and undercut the competition. It looked like the death of customization – but that trend has been reversed in this century.

A combination of factors – such as Internet ordering, cloud services and new manufacturing processes including 3-D printing – has lead to a resurgence in goods and services closely tailored to demand. Choosing clothes on a fashion site not only allows a choice of sizes, colours, patterns and materials, you can even “try it on” by pre-modelling the finished product on an avatar of your own body.

Something similar is happening to carrier networks. The customer might assume that they are all basically the same, apart from the distribution of cell towers, but that is far from true. With all the pressures of smartphone and mobile device usage, video bandwidth demands, soaring customer expectations, and competition for a mature market, today’s carrier networks are stringently tested both during development and deployment to ensure not just reliable connectivity but demanding service levels and – in the ‘age of the customer’ – the very best QoE (quality of experience).

So how is this achieved?

 

Testing today’s networks

Mobile service providers test their carrier networks using sophisticated test solutions designed to emulate “real-world” control and data plane traffic. This traffic emulation – typified by Spirent’s “Landslide” solution – can scale up from realistic day to day traffic to extreme traffic conditions with millions of subscribers moving through the LTE, GSM, UMTS, eHRPD and Wi-Fi networks while consuming IMS and Over-The-Top services.

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