Service assurance in developing markets

Ranga Thittai
25 Mar 2011

Emerging markets in the Asia-Pacific region will have 1.13 billion mobile subscribers by 2013, representing a CAGR of over 15%, according to a recent report by Research and Markets. While growth of subscriber base is a major focus in developing markets, a common challenge is that every operator has the same offering—inexpensive prepaid voice plans. These plans, coupled with the availability of inexpensive handsets, have also resulted is extremely low ARPU.

While they race to build out network infrastructures to support a rapidly growing subscriber base, operators also face the challenge of keeping opex at a minimum to maintain profitability in light of low ARPU. Service assurance is one factor that can play a critical role in helping operators succeed in the face of these difficult market dynamics.

In particular, the right service assurance solutions can enable operators to reduce opex to maintain or improve profitability, augment revenue by ensuring the delivery of high end-user quality for premium services, and improve ROI on existing network infrastructures by future-proofing for the eventual roll out of more advanced technologies.

Finding a cost-effective approach to service assurance -- one that is not heavily dependent on the deployment of expensive probes throughout the network -- is a key way mobile operators can minimize opex. Another important element is minimizing investment in assurance tools. Most service assurance tools available today are designed for a single purpose, be it per-subscriber service monitoring, infrastructure monitoring, or transport monitoring.

This requires operators to use a cumbersome number of tools and results in operational costs and delays from having to jump between toolsets to manage the end-to-end mobile network and service quality. Implementing a single integrated network, service, and application performance monitoring solution will avoid these unnecessary costs and delays and allow for quick troubleshooting of the root causes of service degradations before customers are negatively impacted.

Operators will also benefit from leveraging the investment they have already made on vendor-based element management system (EMS) platforms. These EMS platforms provide a treasure chest of thousands of performance counters. However, managing this wealth of information for performance visualization and reporting can be difficult. What is needed is an assurance solution that enables the efficient mining of this information.

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