Making the grade in testing networks

Neil Morgan and Paolo Sidoti
Accenture
Network managers are expected to plan for the future; their investment decisions can determine success or failure at the enterprise level and they (arguably) have the greatest impact on customer satisfaction. Many, however, lack detailed understanding of their current network reality, and their ability to simulate future network performance cannot keep pace with the changes at product, service and user levels. However, network testing technologies are evolving to meet these challenges.
 
Network testing goes beyond the measurement and recording of a network's state of operation over a period of time. It must help network managers understand the immediate reality, addressing questions such as “how many users did I have on my network yesterday, and how many are there today?”, “what applications are placing the most strain on my network?”, and “where are the configuration discrepancies?” Network testing must also offer real insight to support the broader business, addressing questions such as “which customer cohorts drive congestion and are uneconomic?” , “what will be the quality of service impact of a new product launch?”, and “what return could be achieved from reprioritizing maintenance investments?”
 
If operators can’t answer these questions – in a world that’s all digital, all the time – and fail to evaluate decisions on network maintenance and product launches at this granular level, it can result in lost customers, decreased revenue and increased costs.
Operators in Asia are particularly challenged due to huge demand for network services as vast populations gain access to devices supporting data-hungry services. In fact, Asia is one of the fastest-growing regional mobile markets in the world. With 42% of global mobile revenue, it is equivalent in size to both North America andEurope, according to GSMA Intelligence. The growth opportunity is clear, yet in to accommodate growth they first need a clear, accurate picture of the current state and configuration of their networks.
 
It’s surprising that even today some operators fail to consider that the network testing function is as critical as the design and engineering of new products and services. Some operators are also underestimating the impact on the speed to market and the additional costs due a non-industrialized testing process.

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