Over recent weeks many businesses and individuals have had to switch to remote working to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Many children are remote learning due to the closing of schools and there is also an increase in using the internet for entertainment, be it gaming or content streaming sites.

For many, there has been a dramatic shift in connectivity needs and usage patterns. Verizon reported a 75% increase in gaming, a 30% increase in the use of private networks, and a 20% increase in web traffic. AT&T also reported a 40% increase in mobile traffic and a 100% increase in Wi-Fi calling volumes.

Vodafone has seen its peaks for remote access extend from two hours in the evening, all the way back to lunchtime. This is the result of billions of people globally, being asked to work from home and access their work remotely.

That being said, operators are delivering encouraging messages that they have the necessary headroom in their network and can support this surge. Service Assurance is the key to help operators navigate these changing and challenging times. Here we will examine our top three ways in which Service Assurance is supporting operators throughout this situation.

 

1. Proactive troubleshooting

The increase in network usage and the heavy reliance on smooth connectivity means that the operator needs to, more than ever, assure the network. There has not just been a growth in overall traffic usage, but in the applications, we are using. Operators have a responsibility to ensure network performance is optimized, and service quality is maintained. They can achieve this by deploying a dynamic and smart service assurance solution with proactive alarms and anomaly detection capabilities. Alarms need to be triggered whenever service degradations occur or when the bandwidth is close to reaching capacity.

The operator can then smartly load balance, increase capacity, or drill-down for troubleshooting and perform root cause analysis. These smart optimizations mean that the network issues are resolved before the customer is even aware of them. A dynamic service assurance solution enables the operator to react in real-time to the changes in the network and ensure service levels are maintained during this challenging time.

 

2. Analyzing usage patterns and trends

To understand where potential strains on the network may occur, operators need to analyze usage patterns, and trends continually as subscribers’ habits evolve. Video conferencing apps such as Zoom, Skype, and WebEx have seen a fourfold increase in usage.  Service Assurance solutions with built-in Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) engine can recognize and monitor thousands of applications, many of which are critical for maintaining business communications.

These tools allow the operator to track performance criteria such as latency and throughput as well as usage patterns, so operators know when and where to optimize network and radio resources. We are also seeing operators prioritizing bandwidth for business-critical applications like video conferencing.

Having insights into data such as home network vs. mobile network usage and understanding how many customers are tethering from one device to one or many others will also help balance and optimize the network. By doing so, operators can assure the service quality is maintained while planning the allocation of network resources going forward. 

 

3. Insights into video KPIs

Video traffic accounts for over 60% of network traffic. During this pandemic situation, video services are even more crucial both for business and recreation. To reduce network overload, video streaming companies such as Netflix, YouTube, Apple and the recently launched Disney+ have reduced their video quality from high definition to standard definition to allow more bandwidth in the network. We also rely heavily on OTT video applications such as WhatsApp video and FaceTime to keep in touch with friends and family.

Coupled with this is the fact that nearly all video traffic is encrypted, meaning that operators are left in a blind spot when it comes to the most critical and heavily used applications. If operators want to gain insights into these traffic patterns, they must utilize a service assurance solution with AI and machine learning alongside heuristic modeling to provide an understanding of the perceived Quality of Experience (QoE). Using algorithms that are fed by mass video streaming samples from the network, operators can create KQI’s such as starting delay, rebuffering indication, and the total bytes of effective video throughput. These are extremely relevant as users are relying heavily on conference calling applications to maintain business communication. When these don’t work correctly and there is a delay or break in the line it can be extremely frustrating. Operators need to find a way to decode the video KPI’s and assess the user QoE. Once the operator gains the ability to monitor the quality of experience including for encrypted traffic, they are able to monitor and detect any anomalies and optimize the network where necessary.

 

Conclusion

Sudden and unexpected shifts in network performance are affecting customers more than ever as their reliance on network connectivity has never been higher. A vast responsibility has been laid at the door of the operator. This, in turn, also applies to service assurance vendors who need to provide critical insights that enable operators to optimize and troubleshoot their network in real-time. 

A smart and dynamic service assurance solution that can support operators during these times needs to have the tools and the insights to be able to deliver important information and so support the operators to ensure they can provide the highest levels of service and quality to the end-user.

RADCOM has over 30 years of expertise delivering service assurance and network visibility solutions to operators and is the key to assuring network connectivity in these increased demand times.

To learn more about RADCOMizing your network to assure ongoing connectivity during these changing times, please click here.