By Olivier Terrien, Director of Strategic Marketing
We are in the age of the data tsunami. Equipped with increasingly smart devices, dongles and tablets, consumers are devouring mobile bandwidth at an unprecedented pace with no end in sight.
Unfortunately, radio access network (RAN) technologies, delivery architectures and economics haven’t kept pace with customers’ increasing appetite for mobile broadband access. Techniques used by handset manufacturers to optimize the customer experience, such as saving battery life, are severely impacting the signaling load and resources in the RAN. Mobile network congestion is increasing as more and more subscribers flock to data-intensive devices and applications. This congestion strains network resources and bandwidth, negatively impacting subscriber’s quality of experience (QoE) and creating churn because subscribers – especially smartphone users – won’t remain loyal if service quality doesn’t meet their expectations.
RAN congestion is a complex challenge, and there’s no simple solution to the problem. Each network reacts differently to bandwidth surges and rapidly changing usage patterns, depending on its capacity and network resources. Adding capacity to the network to prevent peak-usage congestion – essentially over provisioning the network – isn’t a cost-effective or practical answer since RAN bandwidth is still very expensive compared to core network bandwidth. Yet, finding a solution to RAN congestion is critical to long-term success, since RAN congestion has a direct and immediate impact on QoE and ultimately to subscriber loyalty.
Maintaining optimal QoE takes more than simply mitigating RAN congestion. It requires the ability to improve the customer experience with intelligent policy shaping that dynamically balances QoE with available network resources. That’s the idea behind Tekelec’s RAN-Aware Policy Management solution. It combines both historical and real-time data collected, parsed and analyzed from several sources including passive signaling and user data probes, RAN alarms, Location base servers with subscriber profile information to inform the policy-decision process. The solution delivers static and dynamic visibility into the RAN, which the operators need to detect what’s taking place and uses that visibility to shape policy management in real time.
As the mobile broadband market heats ups, RAN congestion management will continue to take center stage. There’s no doubt that it’s a vital component in the quest to ensure QoE. However, long-term success in this highly competitive and consumer-drive market takes more than simply delivering bandwidth. It requires end-to-end, context-aware solutions that enable operators to dynamically shape and influence policy, tune and balance network resources in real time, and measure quality of experience to continually improve service usage and customer loyalty, yielding higher revenues.
More information about how to tackle RAN congestion can be found here.