“This is a Procera product? I would not have expected that from you!”
That was the question and comment that I got quite a lot over the past month as we did pre-briefings on our new RAN Perspectives solution. We took a page from the “Think Different” school of business and looked at a problem that we have been steered to time and time again by our customers – measuring the subscriber experience. Most companies tend to look at this problem from just one angle or perspective, and that usually results in more frustration for the operator and the customer.
Customer: I am trying to access Facebook, and I can’t get it to connect. It appears to be loading, but won’t finish, and I can’t update my status.
Customer Care Representative: Well, all lights are green on our network, it can’t be our problem.
This is a call that happens all too frequently on mobile networks. The application or content could have been Netflix, YouTube, Skype, or any other number of popular uses of mobile broadband connections. Operators are talking more and more about delivering a better quality of experience to their mobile subscribers, but the tools that they have today can not deliver the right metrics to measure that experience.
Mobile operators have pushed Procera to help them measure and enhance the quality of experience for their subscribers, and we have been very successful, with many of our customers winning the “best network” award in their country based on the things we do for them (congestion management, analytics, enhanced charging, etc). We have continued to enhance our Internet Intelligence solutions by delving deeper into applications and content, but we felt we were missing half of the equation even as we enriched our existing network visibility.
The part of the equation that was missing was the experience as seen by the subscriber. In mobile networks, the user’s location can have a huge impact on the subscriber experience. Poor signal strength or quality and congestion are two of the biggest culprits, neither of which is effectively monitored or managed by mobile operators today, and certainly not with any visibility into the applications that are being affected. Without going into detail, different traffic types need to be managed differently during congestion. Video traffic behaves badly if you manage it like you do peer-to-peer or even normal web traffic. It may do no good to prioritize traffic if the user has a poor cell signal, it may be more effective to optimize that video to a much smaller codec than normal for the screen size to keep the user happy by making the video still flow faster than the play rate (i.e. Don’t cause a stall!).
We call it RAN Perspectives because we are taking the view of the RAN, and not the traditional network view. Wouldn’t it be nice to receive a communication (SMS, email, etc) from your mobile provider that says “We realize that you had a poor coverage experience yesterday, and we are working to fix this issue. As compensation for your issues, we would like to zero-rate all of your usage from yesterday. We are looking into the coverage issues in that area and hope to fix it quickly.” I know that I would, and RAN Perspectives allows the operator to do just that for their subscribers.
At Procera, we believe that we can positively affect the subscriber experience by enabling the mobile operators to be more proactive to detecting and resolving subscriber problems, build a better network for less cost, and deliver the experience that subscribers expect. RAN Perspectives is the first in a long line of innovations that we will be introducing that will help mobile operators differentiate their network from the competition in the most cost-efficient way possible. Ask us how we can help you!