Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Mobile QoE White Paper

Extracted from the white paper "Mobile Networks QoE" commissioned by Accedian Networks. 

2016 is an interesting year in mobile networks.  Maybe for the first time, we are seeing tangible signs of evolution from digital services to mobile-first. As it was the case for the transition from traditional services to digital, this evolution causes disruptions and new behavior patterns in the ecosystem, from users to networks, to service providers.
Take for example social networks. 47% of Facebook users access the service exclusively through mobile and generate 78% of the company’s ad revenue. In video streaming services, YouTube sees 50% of its views on mobile devices and 49% Netflix’ 18 to 34 years old demographics watch it on mobile.
This extraordinary change in behavior causes unabated traffic growth on mobile networks as well a changes in the traffic mix. Video becomes the dominant use that pervades every other aspect of the network. Indeed, all involved in the mobile value chain have identified video services as the most promising revenue opportunity for next generation networks. Video services are rapidly becoming the new gold rush.

“Video services are the new gold rush”
Video is essentially a very different animal from voice or even other data services. While voice, messaging and data traffic can essentially be predicted fairly accurately as a function of number and density of subscribers, time of day and busy hour patterns, video follows a less predictable growth. There is a wide disparity in consumption from one user to the other, and this is not only due to their viewing habits. It is also function of their device screen size and resolution, the network that they are using and the video services they access. The same video, viewed on a social sharing site on a small screen or on full HD or at 4K on a large screen can have a 10 -20x impact on the network, for essentially the same service.

Video requires specialized equipment to manage and guarantee its quality in the network, otherwise, when congestion occurs, there is a risk that it consumes resources effectively denying voice, browsing, email and other services fair (and necessary) access to the network.
This unpredictable traffic growth results in exponential costs for networks to serve the demand.
As mobile becomes the preferred medium to consume digital content and services, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), whose revenue was traditionally derived from selling “transport,” see their share squeezed as subscribers increasingly value content and have more and more options in accessing it. The double effect of the MNOs’ decreasing margins and increasing costs forces them to rethink their network architecture.
New services, on the horizon such as Voice and Video over LTE (VoLTE & ViLTE), augmented and virtual reality, wearable and IoT, automotive and M2M will not be achievable technologically or economically with the current networks.

Any architecture shift must not simply increase capacity; it must also improve the user experience. It must give the MNO granular control over how services are created, delivered, monitored, and optimized. It must make best use of capacity in each situation, to put the network at the service of the subscriber. It must make QoE — the single biggest differentiator within their control — the foundation for network control, revenue growth and subscriber loyalty.
By offering exceptional user experience, MNOs can become the access provider of choice, part of their users continuously connected lives as their trusted curator of apps, real-time communications, and video.

“How to build massively scalable networks while guaranteeing Quality of Experience?”

As a result, the mobile industry has embarked on a journey to design tomorrow’s networks, borrowing heavily from the changes that have revolutionized enterprise IT departments with SDN (Software Defined Networking) and innovating with 5G and NFV (Networks Functions Virtualization) for instance. The target is to emulate some of the essential attributes of innovative service providers such as Facebook, Google and Netflix who have had to innovate and solve some of the very same problems.

QoE is rapidly becoming the major battlefield upon which network operators and content providers will differentiate and win consumers’ trust.  Quality of Experience requires a richly instrumented network, with feedback telemetry woven through its fabric to anticipate, detect, measure any potential failure.

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