Jeremy Deaner Issue: EMEA 2007
Article no.: 17
Topic: Manage bandwidth – manage access
Author: Jeremy Deaner
Title: General Manager EMEA & AsPac
Organisation: Operax
PDF size: 244KB

About author

Mr Jeremy Deaner is responsible for Operaxís sales and operations in the European, Middle East, African and Asia-Pacific markets. He brings more than 20 years of business and sales management experience from the IT and telecoms industry to Operax. Mr Deaner has held executive sales positions at Digital Equipment, AMS, Geneva Technology, Convergys and, recently, the network convergence solutions company Outsmart. He has had extensive experience in the Europe, Russia and Middle East and EMEA markets. Mr Deaner has a BA (Hons) degree in Economics from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.

 

Article abstract

The increased use of bandwidth-eating applications has strained the resources of many operators to provide capacity and guarantee quality of service. Different applications have different service requirements – an IPTV stream, for example, has little tolerance for interruptions that are no problem whatsoever for email. Contention between services is the major cause of degraded service and end-to-end bandwidth management, not redundant capacity or deep packet inspection, is the best way to guarantee quality of service and ensure customer satisfaction and retention.

 

Full Article

With the explosion of Web 2.0 technologies and content, the ever-increasing penetration of broadband and a market offering consumers numerous customised and converged packages, telecoms operators find themselves facing a difficult business challenge. Slowing subscriber growth has shifted the strategic focus from customer acquisition to customer retention; service differentiation and customer loyalty are fast becoming the market imperatives. Clearly, the most desirable way of differentiating services is to ensure that they are offering customers the most reliable and highest quality of experience in the market. Nonetheless, with up to 200 consumers sharing a last mile link and the growing evidence that networks are reaching full capacity this can prove to be a complicated proposition. The key question for operators is how can you guarantee quality of service, QoS – for a particular user and for the individual session – in this highly complex inter-networked environment. Contention between services is a major cause of sub-optimal QoS in IP networks. We often forgot that it is not only the surplus sessions that are affected but all sessions. While many network elements recognise service classes, they cannot distinguish between different services of the same class. For example, a corporation wishing to transmit an important webcast presentation to investors might be given the same priority as the webcast of a free-to-view entertainment event. New network resources can help solve service quality concerns but carriers are struggling with the business case for new network investments. This is because of uncertain business models for new services – plainly there needs to be a proven economic case for the allocation of network resources to these services, rather than allowing all services to fight for resources in an unallocated pipe. Common network investments By far, the most common investment trend in this area is over-provisioning. Operators are acquiring more and more network capacity in the hope that they can keep one step ahead of demand. There is a serious problem with this approach; no matter how much extra capacity is provisioned, there is always a statistical probability of resource contention somewhere in the network if demand is uncontrolled. Other possible solutions – such as deep packet inspection, DPI, subscriber policy management or application based admission control – can only be regarded as relative improvements to other service classes and do not enforce ëhardí QoS guarantees on a per session, per subscriber basis. Network partitioning with call admission control can provide a means of guaranteeing QoS. However, its lack of flexibility inhibits the speed with which a service can adapt to changes in demand, in service profile or in network resource availability. Ultimately, this inflexibility will lead to lower QoS and slower response to differing demands. This, in turn, can only lead to higher customer churn and reduced Average Revenue per User, ARPU. It is difficult to cost effectively operate an IP network without a resource and admission control function. Services carried by a network without these functions are handled on a best effort basis, without guaranteed availability; the network cannot maintain grade of service or offer premium service capabilities to assure a value-added return. Intelligent bandwidth management offers an opportunity to guarantee end-to-end, carrier grade QoS and therefore is an excellent way to maximise an operatorís Return-on-Investment and facilitate the successful deployment of new services. The business case for bandwidth management Customer service Customer demands on call-centre operations are among the most costly activities that Service Providers have to support. Each call costs on average many tens of dollars; in aggregate, this requires the employment of thousands of staff and investment in expensive facilities and systems. With the advent of ever-more-complex IP services the demand on customer service operations will only become worse unless steps are taken to minimise the causes of problem calls. Bandwidth management can help with this challenge by ensuring that services are delivered at the promised service level, and that this occurs consistently over time. This reduces the volume of service calls and means that customer service benefits are perpetual and not one-off. Intelligently managing network resources can assure the end-to-end user experience for each and every session admitted. If there are insufficient network resources available, pre-emptive action can be taken. This gives interesting capabilities to service providers who aim to pre-empt customer complaints. One European operator has provided strong evidence that proactive customer communication can be as much as ten times cheaper than waiting for the customer to complain and then taking remedial action. If a service request is denied then – according to the service providerís policies – the application can make automatic repeat requests. If resources are still unavailable, then the business policy might be to send an apology and a ëplease try laterí message, or even give some kind of credit or other type of offer. It is crucial to ensure that when any new IP services are launched, they do not impair consumersí perception of services that they purchase from the service provider. If one aspect of a quad-play offering has poor quality of service, there is strong evidence to suggest that consumers will abandon all the other services for another operator. New applications and services Planning, configuring and testing of both the network elements to support applications and the planning and configuring of applications to suit available network resources is costly and time-consuming. It often takes a year or more. In many cases the cost and duration of testing outweigh the business benefit. Once again, over-provisioning does not provide an answer. These network upgrades have consequences that can be very problematic and result in hours, if not weeks, of follow-on issues. Bandwidth management can change this by leveraging a centralised QoS model. As the problem cannot be solved in the network management layer, the resolution has to be achieved by a control layer application. The bandwidth manager application effectively forms an independent control layer that insulates the network from applications and vice versa. This allows network resources to be more rapidly deployed and for applications to be more rapidly developed independently of other systems on the network. This reduces the time to market for new services to weeks rather than months, and affords service providers with the flexibility to develop and launch innovative new services. These services can bring in new revenues by offering service enhancements to existing customers, or enabling services targeted at attractive market segments. Such services might include those that exploit hours when network demand or loading is low. A night time student deal – e.g. double bandwidth for half price – or corporate back-up ëturboí, which could enable massive corporate back-ups to be achieved in shorter times, are examples of this sort of offer. High-Value services Bandwidth management lets service providers allocate dedicated network resources to premium services – at a premium price, while maintaining service classes and resources for non-value-added best efforts communications. Bandwidth management can make a major contribution to operatorsí revenues by reducing churn, enabling the differentiation of premium services, and QoS control.