This post is by Neil Coleman, director global marketing, Actix.
Mobile data services are undergoing tremendous growth. As a result operators are busily knitting together a Heterogeneous Network (HetNet) of access technologies from cellular towers, rooftop antennas, metrocells, femtocells, and Wi-Fi to Distributed Antenna Systems. This development is being driven by subscriber demand for consistent wireless broadband coverage and capacity, with the result that the mobile network is moving increasingly ‘closer’ to the consumer.
LTE offers a step change in mobile data performance, setting new expectations for customer experience. LTE will increase interaction with the network, increasing the demand for mobile multimedia services – online television, video streaming, social networking, and interactive gaming.
Considering the huge variations in performance, range and capacity between different access technologies and spectrum bands, operators will need to carefully control the interactions to provide a consistent subscriber experience. Simply put: customer experience in HetNets will be defined by the poorest network performance the subscriber typically receives during normal day to day usage.
If operators get this wrong, subscribers could experience catastrophic drop-offs when handed over from relatively under-utilised LTE networks to congested 3G/2G networks. Similarly as subscribers leave Wi-Fi or small cell hotspots and re-join macro networks speed bumps will impact the always connected data experience new services rely on.
All of this requires operators to get the initial coverage mix right and ensure handovers and interactions occur at the right places at the right time. Critical to this is an understanding of how subscribers and data traffic flow across the network and the geography. This type of information can be obtained from systems that deliver increased network and subscriber intelligence. Software platforms such as ActixOne are designed to deliver real-time geo-located subscriber insights to drive everything from long term planning through to optimisation and SON.
This intelligence then enables the operator to shape and manage bandwidth to deliver the required quality of service, improving and optimising network efficiency so that the transition across the HetNet is a smooth, invisible and painless experience for the subscriber.