CSPs are racing to launch LTE networks. The pace of deployment is accelerating around the world as CSPs embrace the latest network technology – innovations that promise to deliver more data to satisfy the ever growing needs of users, better quality of service, and more efficient use of valuable spectrum. Indeed, growth is surpassing expectations. As the GSA reports, nearly 400 CSPs in 138 countries have launched LTE network services, leading it to revise forecasts and predict that a total of 460 commercial LTE networks will be in service by the end of 2015. What’s more, CSPs with LTE networks are beginning to add VoLTE services in significant numbers.
As a result, CSPs are expecting to benefit by cutting operational costs and reducing subscriber churn by delivering a better experience. Besides, the addition of VoLTE will enable them to offer higher quality voice services to their subscribers, enabling them to further enhance customer experience and offer a compelling alternative to OTT voice services.
But these benefits will be hard won. Deploying LTE and VoLTE is not without challenges. LTE networks introduce new elements and interfaces. This means that, not only do new solutions have to be integrated, but also that existing elements need to be upgraded.
Adding VoLTE to the equation will increase this complexity through the incorporation of yet more interfaces and platforms. The new solutions demanded by LTE and VoLTE must co-exist with existing elements and, despite the enhanced coverage afforded by LTE, handover to legacy networks will still be required in many cases.
Luckily, there are already solutions to these challenges available. To secure the benefits of LTE and to ensure that it performs as expected, CSPs can obtain real-time information from all elements and interfaces in their network. They can deploy equipment to monitor user sessions to ensure their quality and performance, while at the same time generating alerts for operational teams that allow both remedial action and proactive measures to be taken based on predictive analytics and historical trends. With the information that this provides, performance guarantees can be supported and investments will be more likely to yield positive returns.
With the addition of VoLTE, there will be even more complex call and session scenarios for the CSPs to handle. Moving from VoLTE coverage to earlier networks involves handover; roaming introduces additional challenges. Data from all of the network elements and systems involved, across LTE, 3G and 2G domains must be correlated to create a true end-to-end view of service performance. With this information, CSPs will have a complete visibility of individual and multiple sessions and will be able to accurately diagnose network issues.
CSPs must also plan ahead. Adopting LTE and VoLTE is a long-term engagement. These enhanced networks will require constant monitoring and maintenance. At the same time, the data collected, and the insights it can yield, will lead to an increased awareness of subscriber behaviour that can be used to further improve the CSP’s competiveness. However, it will require new ways of working.
Operational staff will need to rapidly learn new technologies and how to extract the best performance from their assets. But this doesn’t just affect operational teams. CSPs should think in terms of a journey of continuous evolution that impacts all departments, from operational to planning, from marketing to corporate management. When the decision is taken to add VoLTE to the mix, they must be ready to cope with the additional complexity that this will bring and be able to capitalise on new insight and demands.
Once VoLTE is up and running, CSPs have to learn how to make the most of the service so that they can ensure it meets the promised performance levels. In short, the process of managing and assuring these new network assets will never end.
For CSPs to effectively capture the benefits of LTE and VoLTE deployments, they must position themselves for a journey that embraces the entire life-cycle of their investments, from planning to deployment, to assurance and to on-going service enablement. To achieve this, they need also to equip themselves with tools that are capable of providing the clarity and visibility of events and sessions, across all elements in their network – current, new and those yet to come.
That means that they need a comprehensive monitoring and assurance solution that evolves with their assets. One that is capable of collecting data from all current and future interfaces, spanning hybrid LTE and legacy network environments and presenting reports in a clear, intelligent manner. Getting this part of the equation right from the outset will ensure that a CSP’s journey to LTE and beyond is as smooth as possible, increasing the probability of securing the expected returns.
To experience a new generation of solutions dedicated to maximising LTE and VoLTE ROI, visit Polystar’s team of experts at LTE World Summit: Stand 72.
This blog post was initially published on The LTE World Series Blog:
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