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Improve Network, Service and Financial Performance using Network Analytics

How to use real-time and historical data intelligently and proactively to improve your network.
We all get it. By now, most of us are convinced that we will see more and more mobile devices being used, which means more demands on the mobile network. There will be more ways to communicate, entertain and do business using voice, video, social networking, applications and collaboration tools. All of these things are being done on mobile devices. We all benefit from this. The problem is that mobile data growth is putting ever-increasing demands on mobile networks, which eventually puts a severe strain on the financial performance of operators1. Operators are feeling the enormous pressure of trying to keep up with this mobile growth phenomenon. Cost is going up, but Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) is flat. It is getting more difficult to find new sources to generate revenue due to more intense competition. This is not just from other operators, but also from over-the-top (OTT) players. With this commoditization, there is an opportunity for operators to provide increased customer service. Network Analytics can help in this regard. The question now is how can operators further squeeze out cost from their networks and at the same time use their existing assets to generate more money. Existing solutions, such as traditional Element Management System (EMS) software, can only provide a limited view of the network, namely a particular vendors equipment or equipment type or only a certain part of the network. The first step is to get a much broader and deeper understanding of what is going on with the network. That is where Network Analytics can help. Network Analytics focuses on network and equipment performance to enable mobile operators to identify network issues and anticipate potential issues in advance, and address them through proactive planning. New advanced analytics solutions have emerged that enable operators to leverage one of their most valuable assets their data to manage and enhance the user experience. Advanced analytics solutions can:

Network Analytics Enables Broader and Deeper Understanding of the Network

There is this notion in the industry that if you have Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) technology in the network, you automatically have analytics. This is a common mistake. Network Analytics must be able to view the network in a much wider scope. For example, visibility simply in the mobile packet core through DPI technology is good, but not sufficient. You may be missing what is going on in the backhaul or in the radio access network (RAN). Network Analytics must also be able to view the different layers of the mobile network. Advanced Network Analytics solutions enable operators to: n provide a comprehensive view of the current quality of the user experience based on network performance
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identify network performance issues enable a precise root-cause analysis to determine where and how to make necessary changes to the network to improve that experience anticipate potential issues in advance and address these through proactive planning identify potential network optimization to reduce network cost

What are Analytics?

The term analytics can mean different things to different audiences. For the purposes of this discussion, we will be using two different analytics terms, real-time analytics and enterprise analytics. Realtime analytics involves the use of a network element to monitor and manipulate live traffic in real-time. Generally, a operators engineering and operations groups use integrated real-time analytics tools in the areas of policy enforcement, the policy charging and rules function (PCRF) and security. Integrated real-time analytics tools cannot make historical comparisons or perform any trending analyses because there is very little data storage capacity within that single network element. By contrast, enterprise analytics involves the collection of data from multiple elements and disparate back office systems across the network. Information from various systems is consolidated and correlated. A solution using enterprise analytics then analyzes the correlated information and produces reports so that the operator can take the appropriate actions to improve business performance. Enterprise analytics solutions support historical comparisons and trending analyses enabled by the fact that data is aggregated to a centralized repository with significant data-storage.

collect data from all seven layers of the OSI stack and from multiple network elements analyze and transform the collected data into meaningful information tailor that information to the needs of individual user communities within the operator, including engineering, operations, marketing, advertising, service/product management, finance and customer care

See Tellabs Press Release Mobile operators profitability challenged within three years, says study,, February 3, 2011

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Traditional Approaches are Limited

Operators have massive amounts of data in their networks. When it comes to collecting the data and transforming it into meaningful information that helps them make decisions, operators have struggled. The few tools they do have offer limited capabilities at best. The spreadsheet approach, for example, is prone to errors, creates individual data silos and makes information difficult to share. It also does not permit data storage or data queries and is not suitable for deployment across the enterprise. Another approach, data-management solutions, typically consists of a platform - a database, a data warehousing capability and datamining tools - and a data presentation layer. By linking query logic and reporting functions, the software enables the operator to mine the data, pull it into usable forms and create reports. However, data-management solutions lack a core analytics function. This function gives operators the ability to take historical data, compare the information, do regression analyses and create models with which the operator can do predictive analysis. A best-of-breed analytics platform would contain an analysis and report capability that incorporates industry knowledge, terms and semantics and can accommodate extensions to incorporate unique and proprietary knowledge. Similarly, some in the industry regard the combination of an Element Management System (EMS) and reporting capability as an analytics solution. However, an EMS, which is designed to help provision, monitor and manage the network, does not have any enterpriseanalytics capability. It also lacks the core analytics function of historical comparison, trending analyses and modeling. Furthermore, an EMS cannot scale to accommodate enormous volumes of data, store the data for long periods of time or mine the data. An EMS with a northbound interface may give the operator access to the data. However, it offers no tools with which the operator can analyze that data and correlate it with information sets from other parts of the network or other disparate data sources. Finally, although an EMS generates performance reports for a particular network element, these reports offer the operator little when it comes to managing the customer experience.

Too Few Tools for Too Many Silos in the Network

Operators typically use the limited analytics tools only in discrete segments of the network, for example:

Operational Support Systems (OSSs) for the configuration, monitoring and management of the network Billing Support Systems (BSSs) for revenue assurance and financial auditing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems to retain existing customers and attract new ones Network performance management to test and measure network links

Each of these tools focuses on only one aspect of the operators network or associated business concerns. None zeroes in on the user experience itself.

Analytics Solution Brings It All Together

A purpose-built analytics solution must be designed to improve the targeting of network investment and to pave the way for applicationsaware performance and analysis, independent of vendor equipment used. The system must take detailed information from different points of the mobile network, provide a mechanism to include reference data, contextualize it and then present it in a service centric format. The user is free to follow a service path, diverge from it to examine elements of interest and quickly build a coherent multi-dimensional view of how the network is working and any points in it that may require intervention. Time-based comparisons must be supported, so the way the network behaves at a certain time can be compared across days, weeks and months. Regional and functional cluster reports must be provided to allow sub-sections of the network to be investigated in detail. A best-of-breed analytics solution must illustrate the network from whichever perspective the operator wishes to take, be that network-centric, node-centric or service-centric. Furthermore, a best-of-breed analytics solution must enable operators to tailor the way data is presented, depending on the audience or recipient, so that it turns into insightful and actionable information.

Analytics Solution Spreadsheet EMS/NMS Real-time analytics Enterprise analytics

Basic OA&M

Real-time network access

Historical view and modeling

Large data Correlation and warehousing algorithmic and processing analysis

Network element agnostic

Report customization

Table 1: Summary of traditional analytic solutions

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Improve the Network and Save Money

A purpose-built analytics solution must enhance an operators visibility into their end-to-end mobile network. It must provide a logical service view of the network, facilitating network operations, network planning and reporting by making best use of that data and presenting it in a service centric context. Network Analytics must provide strategic information and key metrics, supporting critical capabilities such as:

Reports and raw data which can be exported to file (various formats) and can be scheduled to run periodically and results mailed to a distribution list. Adjustable threshold values for all metrics and automated alerts that can be issued upon threshold violation.

For many operators, the booming mobile Internet phenomenon has brought enormous success in the form of double-digit revenue growth and increased market share. It also has presented them with some major challenges. One of the biggest issues is how to maintain the highest levels of network performance to prevent customer churn and increase average revenue per user (ARPU). This challenge is further exacerbated by the need to continually save cost. This is especially challenging given the rapid growth in the size of the customer base and users relentless demand for bandwidth hungry applications. New advanced analytics solutions have emerged that enable operators to leverage one of their most valuable assets their data to manage and enhance the user experience. A purpose-built Network Analytics solution enables operators to improve network performance that leads to service performance and ultimately driving financial performance. Equipped with a next-generation analytics solution that delivers granular, customizable intelligence, operators now can obtain greater control over network quality and the user experience. By using an advanced analytics solution to enhance the user experience, operators can also enhance their revenues, the power of their brands in the marketplace and ultimately, their chances for long-term competitive success.

informing network platform investment decisions so money is spent in the right place informing network engineering and change management processes tuning network performance and eliminating orphan services informing network planning with summary metrics and detailed data on network utilization, bottlenecks and volume growth trends operations problem analysis and resolution

n n n

In addition to the critical capabilities outlined above, the following is a list of additional features and capabilities that can be delivered dependent on the customer environment:

Integration with the installed management system platform. This leverages data and analysis already in place, and provides added value to that by correlation with data from other sources. Direct data collection from different nodes, regardless of vendor. This provides network topology, detailed utilization and configuration information. A robust set of standard reports, configured to the operators network. This provides unprecedented visibility and analysis of the network. User configurable reports enabled by an easily-understandable network data model. This hides the underlying database complexity. Ability to drill-down to underlying data from summary level reports and drill-to related data points, down to a subscriber level basis. Reports which present information in an accessible manner and are customized to operator requirements, terminology and other conventions.

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