“Bottlenecks around Piccadilly Circus, traffic at a halt at 6pm near Amsterdam Station, slow downloads on the Munich-Giesing Autobahn!” – No not all traffic updates on your daily commute by car, but the kind of warnings network operators should be giving out to consumers, according to Actix, a pioneer of software that enables mobile operators to run more effective networks.
In major inner cities, every square kilometre generates 45,000 voice calls and 800,000 3G data connections a day. Research by Ofcom suggests the demand for mobile capacity will increase 80 fold by 2030, and according to information collated by Actix, the current demands for mobile data suggest at least a tenfold growth by 2015.
Neil Coleman, Director of Global Marketing, Actix, explains: “Given the data we are seeing we expect even 4G networks to slow and grind to halt in ‘traffic jammed’ locations where demand exceeds network capability. The idea of mobile operators issuing ‘traffic reports’ of where and when to make calls or use data sounds frivolous, but the reality is that operators are already tuning networks in specific locations to try to manage demand.”
Actix’s software provides operators with the capability to accurately geo-locate mobile activity in real time, mapping data capacity consumption. This technology is used by operators to optimize the subscriber experience of the network where currently just 5% of locations carry more than 50% of all traffic, and 15% of locations cause 85% of all customer experience problems.
The data could also be used by operators to generate ‘traffic alerts’, proactively informing subscribers that they are moving into a area where the network could become congested and slow.
“Highlighting issues with your network is not great marketing for an operator. But the reality is that they all suffer from congestion issues, with traffic jams in the network. From a subscriber point of view, better to be informed, than find you cannot make that urgent call or send a crucial email,” proposes Coleman.
For the operator, understanding the daily ebb and flow of network traffic is crucial if they are to maintain network quality and subscriber loyalty. Operators are already trying to apply dynamic policy control to their networks, ensuring guaranteed service for important subscribers. Some are considering varying charges for data downloads based on whether subscribers need it immediately, even when the network is busy, or are willing to wait and download or watch later. With geo-location operators can develop download zones, with a simple traffic light system. When network demand is lower, subscribers would be given the green light for cheaper per download costs.
To achieve this requires extremely accurate network quality information by location and real time awareness of demand and experience as these vary on a street by street and hour by hour basis. With ActixOne, a real-time, multi-vendor and multi-technology platform that supports all mobile network data sources, operators have access to all the necessary tools to rapidly locate, visualize and analyze subscriber activity on the network. With this data they can optimize their services to ensure the traffic keeps flowing smoothly.