The explosion of smartphones (~1.5 billion sold in 2015), the proliferation of applications accessible through 4G mobile networks, and the advent of over-the-top (OTT) services have all put pressure on traditional service providers to differentiate themselves, keep the customer base loyal and, most importantly, recover revenues currently flowing to OTT providers and other MNO competitors. Now, new 5G technology is rapidly moving from concept to reality to address, according to the GSM Association, a brand new set of requirements that includes:
- 1-10Gbps connections to endpoints in the field (i.e., not theoretical maximum)
- 1 millisecond end-to-end round trip delay (latency)
- 1000x bandwidth per unit area
- 10-100x number of connected devices
- (Perception of) 99.999% availability
- (Perception of) 100% coverage
- 90% reduction in network energy usage
- Up to 10-year battery lives for low-power, machine-type devices
Besides the technicalities related to the list above, 5G should also allow new applications like virtual/augmented reality, immersive or tactile Internet, autonomous driving (i.e., connected cars) and wireless cloud-based office/multi-person videoconferencing.
Why QoS isn’t Enough
To better understand of the quality of voice delivery from a subscriber’s point of view (perceived experience), the standard bodies and industry organizations developed the mean opinion score (MOS), which provided a subjective measurement of the quality of a call. This methodology has evolved over the years to accommodate the transition from circuit-switch services to packet-switched networks carrying voice.
With the introduction of data services over mobile networks, QoS has proven to be a valid way to check the health of both the physical network and the interconnection links between nodes, but it is unable to represent the objective perception of the quality from the subscriber point of view. While MOS was effective for voice, it was not suitable for data services.
Scoring QoE in the Context of the Transition to 5G
The transition toward 5G will be a long one; operators will have to maintain multiple technologies in place but scoring QoE will bring many benefits, such as:
- Driving strategic company decisions
Understanding QoE enables providers to understand how subscribers are using the network as well as the experience they are receiving: valuable information when defining the MNO’s strategy in terms of introducing new services and those requiring 5G.
- Providing complementary information for business and subscriber intelligence
While many applications are already in place to collect information from billing systems about how subscribers use the network, they lack the “experience” information to properly evaluate the probability of churn. And, if a customer will churn, they will be less likely to pay more for the services allowed by the future 5G.
- Optimizing network planning
Focus 5G investments to improve QoE where the high-paying customers are and to enhance the performance of the applications they use.
- Enhancing network supervision and operations
Monitor the network from the subscriber perspective: look to the subscriber experience and not only to the infrastructure’s health.
The Future of QoE
Empirix is working to define and integrate into its IntelliSight Analytics platform a fully configurable, objective model for scoring QoE that will be applicable to any service and any category of subscribers. The goal is to provide an objective means of measuring their customers’ experiences, enabling service providers to quickly and proactively address issues and increase customer satisfaction.
Is your company thinking about how to improve its visibility into your subscribers’ Quality of Experience? Visit us at 5G Asia to listen to our session “Evaluating the Real Customer Experience with Quality of Experience Index” presented by Anthony Hogan, APAC Technical Lead, Empirix or contact us to schedule a meeting.
Angelo is currently focusing on Product Marketing at Empirix for Customer Assurance applications. He has worked in the Telecom sector for the last 25 years, his background includes experience in Engineering, Product Management, Solution Architecture and Strategic Marketing mainly focused on probe-based passive monitoring systems for CSP.