Operators need better intelligence about who is using their networks, and how, if they are to properly address quality of service, customer experience and other issues.
For most of the major challenges facing operators today, such as making the most of their capacity, improving customer service and ensuring cost-effective use of infrastructure, one thing is going to be key to being able to addressing these issues – visibility into the applications on the network. According to Angus MacCormick, director, Middle East, Turkey & Africa, Procera, visibility into who is using their networks and how is becoming increasingly important if operators are going to be able to intelligently manage their services and offerings.
With the convergence of networks and the rise of data services, operators need to change the way they look at networks, and go beyond just monitoring of network health, and delve into a much more granular level of understanding usage, MacCormick said.
“Today, for the telcos, they haven’t really been focused on what the applications are that are on their networks. You don’t have clarity and you can’t see the traffic. If you can’t see it, you can’t monetise it. To see the content, you need to be able to see the applications, and to see the applications you need to understand the packet-based network.”
To address this situation, Procera has developed what it calls ‘Internet Intelligence’ solutions, which provide network operators with packet-level visibility into activity on their networks. The technology is able to monitor fixed, mobile, Wi-Fi, and satellite networks, across technology from any vendor, giving network operators a comprehensive view of network activity, which in turn opens up a wide range of opportunities in how the operators can use that intelligence.
Since launching in the region at the LTE show three years ago, the company has gained a number of customers, including Du, Mobily and Zain. Procera’s solutions are proving popular as operators understand the benefits of know what is on the network.
“We can help the service providers see a number of dimensions of customer and end user awareness. We help them to see the customer’s identity, who they are, what service plan or plans they are on,” he said.
The Procera solution is able to show in real time the identity of the user, what applications people are using, what locations they are using certain applications from, the performance of the applications, and even connections into content provider networks.
The level of detail then gives operators a huge amount of intelligence to process. Through better visibility, operators can enhance quality of service, for example to ensure good connectivity for premium customers or for bandwidth-intensive applications such as HD video conferencing. Low value traffic such as social media can be shifted to more cost-effective networks.
At a strategic level, the solution gives operators a wealth of data for prediction and analysis of consumer and business trends, which in turn allows them to develop new data packages or services, provide personalised offerings based on usage, predict capacity requirements and better plan OPEX and CAPEX.
“They have huge flexibility to do anything. How that is applied to marketing and offers, the possibilities are infinite,” MacCormick said. “The challenge then becomes a business challenge, of how they are going to service customers, support customers, the packages they will offer them. They have a choice to make about what they are going to offer you.”
In the Middle East, although it is early days for such granular network intelligence, MacCormick commented, operators are realising the benefits of the level of understanding that it brings and how it can be utilised in developing business areas.
“If they just focused on this activity [network intelligence], it would put them in very good stead to deal with cloud and OTT in future. Otherwise they wont have the intelligence or business flexibility to deal with it in the future. Operators with lack of clarity will have no chance, will just be carrying traffic.”