Hanging by a thread: subscriber experience in the hybrid network world: Page 3 of 3

January 09, 2018 //By John English, Netscout
Hanging by a thread: subscriber experience in the hybrid network world
Change is inevitable in technology, and operators are no strangers to it. 2G to 3G to 4G and now onto LTE-Advanced and 5G; each evolutionary change in the mobile lifecycle has made network management an increasingly complex feat of engineering. The shift to LTE has undoubtedly been the biggest so far, and has put pressure on operators to deliver a consistent quality of experience to a data-reliant user base. Now that OTT applications are gaining more and more interest from subscribers and therefore having direct impact on operator revenue, this has become a complicated competitive issue. However, it isn’t a new one by any means.

To help unlock the incredibly valuable commercial driver that NFV can provide, working with a knowledgeable and forward looking service assurance vendor is crucial. It means end-to-end visibility will be retained, and also protection of the bottom line. This will turn network monitoring from a mere troubleshooting tool into a fully end-to-end resource management capability. By harnessing big data produced from network traffic and using it in real-time and in context, this is turned into smart data; operators will need to have a handle on their networks to harness the goldmine of data that they are sitting on. It can help identify trends and patterns in subscriber behaviour to improve network performance and subscriber experience, whilst showing operators when to scale their resources up, but also crucially when to scale them down. Combine this with automation, and you have a tool that will work for you, rather than you working for it.

As it stands, virtualisation of operators’ networks will be a process that will take time. Some implementations are in place, interest in NFV has grown significantly, but legacy and virtualised network infrastructure are going to have to coexist for years to come in a hybrid network that performs at the same level as their hardware-only ancestors. A service assurance solution that can support a hybrid design is paramount for operators in 2017 and beyond. Virtualised networks will be a patchwork of different and constantly-changing network functions, so it is imperative that operators do their best to avoid the Sword of Damocles hanging over their head of service quality, and ensure that the rewards that NFV offers are far greater than the risks they pose.

The author, John English holds the title of Senior Marketing Manager Service Provider Solutions at NETSCOUT

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