In previous generations, QoE was relatively simple for service providers to assure. Rows of green lights on network equipment racks meant hardware was working. In blunt terms, this meant the network was highly likely to be operating as expected and was delivering what customers wanted – typically uninterrupted, clear voice communications. Only red lights meant danger for QoE.
As telecoms developed these green lights stopped being sufficiently granular in terms of providing information about whether services were being delivered as expected. For example, network equipment could be operating correctly but video content could suffer from latency or jitter without being detected at the equipment level. This led to further development of the discipline of QoE management which monitored the performance and delivery of the services themselves.
Within the confined environment of service providers’ small number of traditional services this worked well and it was possible to analyse network data to gain highly detailed information about service performance and the experiences being delivered. This capability enabled service providers to offer service level agreements (SLAs) and prove that they were meeting these. It also opened up the opportunity to interact with third parties and assure the delivery of services such as video streaming, enabling a potential additional source of revenue.
Substantial development work has been done to enable data to be collected and analysed across networks to ensure end-to-end QoE is maintained. Much of this is enabled in an automated way, which is essential from cost and timeliness perspectives. It’s impractical to analyse historical data to assure the QoE of a multi-party video conference, for example, because by the time the root cause is identified the session is long finished. Data, coupled with predictive analytics, must be monitored in realtime – or at least near-real-time – to give a clear picture of the QoE being provided and to enable remedial action to be taken before a service affecting issue arises.
This development path is well trodden and there are well-known and proven solutions to the traditional QoE challenge currently in widespread deployment by service providers. They’re essential to the smooth operation of telecoms businesses and the performance of the apps and services their customers use.