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Quality of Experience management in the age of IoT

Cam CullenIssue:Europe II 2016
Article no.:10
Topic:Quality of Experience management in the age of IoT
Author:Cam Cullen
Title:VP, Global Marketing
Organisation:Procera Networks
PDF size:358KB

About author

Cam Cullen is currently VP of Global Marketing at Procera Networks.
Prior to Procera, Cam held senior product management and marketing positions at Allot Communications and Quarry Technologies, in addition to business development and marketing roles at 3Com.
Cam is a frequent speaker at leading industry events and holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Alabama.

Article abstract

Maintaining a consistent QoE across the board now also depends on having end-to-end visibility into what the network is capable of delivering at any given time. In today’s data-led environment, where more devices are connected than ever before and this is only going to grow, operators need a much more granular view – one capable of delivering insight into the service, application, and subscriber session at any given time – which can now be achieved by rating network performance based on the QoE of individual services. This 'scorecard’ system helps operators to drill down and reveal the root cause of service degradation and QoE issues based on a variety of factors, and will be all the more important for retaining subscribers and helping to differentiate service offerings both when IoT reaches the fore and beyond.
 

Full Article

The Internet of Things is quickly becoming a reality. Consumers are embracing the benefits of connected devices and so too are businesses, expanding their presence in the home and influence over our lives via the IoT. By 2018, IHS technology predicts that 45 million smart devices will have been installed and the annual growth potential as a result will have reached £8.45 billion. With everything from toasters to cars and even health equipment rapidly becoming internet-enabled, the tremendous growth potential that IoT represents cannot be ignored. Yet, for both cable and mobile operators, the significantly greater number of devices soon to be connected to their networks, and the volume of additional traffic this will generate, has the potential to create a Quality of Experience crisis.

The impact of IoT on network traffic

The heightened global adoption of broadband access is in itself fuelling the further growth of IoT, creating a perpetual loop. Wearables, too, are contributing to the network performance challenge operators now face, particularly as internet-enabled FitBits and other body-worn devices are predicted to reach 50 per cent adoption among broadband households in Western Europe by 2019, according to research by Park Associates. Combined with ever-present subscriber demands from their operator in terms of HD video streaming, real-time gaming, and low latency VoIP services, the bandwidth implications for managing the influx of IoT devices that will soon hit the network becomes a real and pressing concern.

Part of the problem is the industry’s approach to the Internet of Things. The benefits of this technology are widely recognised but the impact of network infrastructure has thus far largely been ignored, especially in relation to the wealth of devices that will come online and the additional background noise this will create. This is particularly true when you consider how different IoT and connected devices have different network usage and consumption profiles.

Evidently there’s no room for error or latency when the network is sending bursts of data from a connected health device. But even when considering a less mission-critical example, poor performance across the board as a result of congestion caused by connected devices could easily heighten the potential for subscriber churn. In the same way that users do not want to see overall QoE suffer due to bandwidth hungry video traffic congesting the network and impacting their experience, the same applies to the IoT. In a complex networking environment like this, and with the challenge operators face around the IoT becoming greater each and every day, it’s clear why more advanced Quality of Experience and network management technology has become more important than ever before.

Putting the subscriber experience first

Network visibility is crucial for operators. It always has been, but there’s no escaping the renewed focus on this requirement in the IoT age. Compounding the issue of inevitable widespread connected device adoption is the fact that today’s broadband landscape is highly competitive. Subscribers have the freedom to select services from multiple operators and its not uncommon for users to jump ship after experiencing network quality issues. Again, faced with the potential for high churn rates, it’s become essential for operators to work harder at delivering a better subscriber experience than the competition in order to meet the needs of their users based on what they prioritise from their operator of choice.

Network intelligence and traffic management tools, therefore, supported by Deep Packet Inspection, are vital. Not only will they help operators to meet this requirement, this technology will be key in supporting network management during the rise of IoT and connected devices in coming years, especially with demands on the network constantly increasing across the board. It’s only by using DPI tools that operators can identify what traffic is flowing across their networks in real-time, identify where the network is congested, and take steps to address it.

Scoring network performance

However, there’s another piece to the puzzle. Unfortunately for operators, particularly within the home broadband environment, peak download speed is no longer a suitable indicator of overall network performance. This is especially true when you consider how the IoT will depend largely on reliability and network connectivity rather than download potential. Speed is still important, granted, but it’s no longer, or arguably never has been, the complete picture.

Maintaining a consistent QoE across the board now also depends on having end-to-end visibility into what the network is capable of delivering at any given time. In today’s data-led environment, where more devices are connected than ever before and this is only going to grow, operators need a much more granular view – one capable of delivering insight into the service, application, and subscriber session at any given time – which can now be achieved by rating network performance based on the QoE of individual services. This 'scorecard’ system helps operators to drill down and reveal the root cause of service degradation and QoE issues based on a variety of factors, and will be all the more important for retaining subscribers and helping to differentiate service offerings both when IoT reaches the fore and beyond.

An approach like this holds a number of benefits. Executive management can use this information to prioritise decisions on CAPEX and OPEX investments. Engineers can drill down deeper and analyse the actions to take at different parts of the network, while marketing can used scores to help differentiate with services where the operator is particularly strong. As IoT takes hold and results in more network traffic than ever before, operators will have additional data to base these decisions on. Making this a reality, however, depends on operators choosing a partner that can amass and structure network data so it can be transformed into actionable intelligence, thereby empowering them to make informed business decisions that will ultimately improve QoE.

Delivering on subscriber expectations

Ultimately, it’s no longer enough for operators to present a best-effort approach to maintaining a consistent QoE. Instead, they must inspect every data packet and measure their networks for the delivery of a variety of different services and support for IoT devices. By capitalising on tools that provide a real-time view of the entire network environment, and are capable of scoring performance to help identify pressure points, operators will have access to a broad range of meaningful network and subscriber data. Not only will help to predict peaks in traffic and plan for inevitable infrastructure expansion, it will also give operators a complete picture of how what’s needed to ensure a consistent subscriber experience both today and in the IoT future.

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