Helping Your LTE Network Fly to New Heights with Better Service Assurance

By: Sergio Zveibil

One of the greatest accomplishments of the Golden Age of Aviation occurred on September 28, 1924, when the “Chicago” and the “New Orleans” completed the world’s first airborne circumnavigation. When the planes landed in Seattle, completing a 175-day journey, Major General Charles G. Norton said that the flight was, “brilliant proof of expert flying and mechanical ability.”

To an experienced aviator, Norton’s assessment would ring true. But, to the average American in 1924, it would seem as though it took more than just “expert flying and mechanical ability” for those pilots to travel around the world safely. Some might have said it took a little bit of magic. That sentiment was later echoed by Carl Sagan when he said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Indeed, even today, airplane flight seems a bit magical, even to frequent flyers. However, it’s surprising how little consideration passengers give to the advanced technology that makes global travel a reality. Most travelers don’t know the “how” behind flight – all they know is that they’re able to sail high above the clouds, crossing countries and oceans in a matter of hours.

Airlines aren’t alone in providing “magical” services to customers. Today’s mobile operators help people communicate around the world, with mere seconds separating their interactions, yet most customers do not understand the nuances that happen behind-the-scenes, nor do they care to know. They just want them to work. The best network services, like the best flights, are the ones customers don’t have to think about, the ones where the technology is virtually invisible.

As mobile technology accelerates forward, with the number of LTE subscribers expected to cross the one billion mark by 2016, it’s up to mobile operators to continue to innovate, while still meeting the quality of experience (QoE) expectations of their subscribers. Through it all, mobile services should continue to work just like magic!

To make that possible, mobile operators must have cross-domain network performance visibility across the entire mobile network – not just into the LTE network – and transition from piece-meal network performance management practices to a unified service assurance approach. This way, when a mobile service encounters "turbulence", mobile operators will be able to react quickly, find out which part of the network is causing the problem, correct it and then take their networks to even greater heights.

Building an LTE network dashboard

Each day, airlines manage hundreds and thousands of flights, zigzagging and intersecting through the air. It is an incredible logistical challenge for airlines to safely get planes from point A to point B, while still meeting passengers’ expectations for speed and safety. Airplane pilots monitor their own planes individually, while airline controllers on the ground provide oversight and, additionally, closely manage each part of the service delivery chain to see how various components affect customer QoE. If airlines fail to properly manage this chain, customers will book their next trip with a different provider.

For LTE mobile operators, the challenge is similar. In a way, the fact that they manage various networks simultaneously adds a deeper layer of complexity to the management process. Customers constantly jump between and traverse different types of mobile networks, from new (4G/LTE) to legacy (2G/3G) networks. Can you imagine, in a comparable airplane scenario, if passengers tried to switch flights midair? 

To keep the magic happening amid changing network factors, mobile operators monitor all network domains to ensure individual links, as well as the entire chain, are working properly, and to quickly solve problems before they impact subscribers.


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