Why unified Mobile Backhaul is worth the investment

5G network testing
Cyril Doussau, senior director, Global Product Marketing, InfoVista, explains why investment in Unified Mobile Backhaul is important for telecom network operators.

Experts across the mobile landscape agree that the market is fast reaching a saturation point. Even as new geographic regions for business come online globally, the opportunities for new mobile revenue are still increasingly hard to come by for many network operators.

Most mobile revenue continues to come from established markets in North America and Europe, where virtually every adult is connected to a mobile device. Unlike in regions where mobile technology is still relatively nascent, customers stateside and in the EU are accustomed to not just having uninterrupted access to wireless networks – both for voice and data services – but also an array of options when it comes to carriers and pricing.

In this crowded market, providers need to focus on retaining the customers they already have before they can look at building new streams of revenue. With the market already at or near a saturation point, customers can be more discretionary about which service agreements they sign onto given the plethora of available providers. Since mobile operators can no longer depend on slinging unique or new devices to sway customers, they must sell themselves to subscribers based on quality of experience (QoE) metrics. They also need to constantly be exploring ways to optimize network Capex (capital expenditure) and Opex (operations expenditure) to further protect their bottom line.

Invest in a Unified Backhaul Solution to Improve Network Performance, Reduce Churn

Service degradations and failures due to congestion and other factors have the strongest impact on customers, according to recent reports, and poor QoE can contribute to debilitating subscriber churn if not addressed.

In a 2013 survey conducted by Heavy Reading, “Mobile Network Outages and Service Degradations,” researchers found that mobile operators overall agree with this sentiment and consider network performance factors to be the largest contributor to subscriber churn. A follow-up survey conducted in 2016 by Heavy Reading found that service outages and degradations cost mobile operators more than $20 billion annually.

This requires that mobile operators adopt a unified network performance solution to manage mobile backhaul and other network domains that can help mitigate losses for mobile operators – and ultimately reduce subscriber churn by enhancing QoE. A unified solution is one that permits operators to have full visibility into all areas of the network from a single dashboard or interface.

Such a solution should also enable operators to detect changes to the network in near real-time in order to address service degradations and latency issues before they impact subscribers. This is also invaluable to mobile network planning, as trends related to traffic flows, both in terms of volume and direction, can help operators map backhaul plans and advise on future network tweaks that could help improve QoE.

Operators need to adopt modern practices and tools that will grant them visibility across all domains and layers in spite of increasing complexity. This may seem like a tall order for some operators, but the investment will help secure existing subscriptions while potentially unveiling new streams entirely.

The ROI for Mobile Backhaul Assurance Runs the Gamut

Reducing customer churn is the primary reason to invest in a unified mobile backhaul management solution, but holding onto the existing client-base is hardly the only impetus for mobile operators to explore a unified approach.

For instance, a unified solution can also help prevent direct revenue loss incurred by network downtime. By successfully prioritizing network performance through mobile backhaul, the occurrence of lost billable voice minutes and data for subscribers would ideally go down. In turn, as long as the network is available and operating, subscriber revenue can pour in uninterrupted.

There are also a lot of direct and indirect Capex and Opex gains for mobile operators who prioritize mobile network performance through a unified solution. For starters, they can reduce the number of OSS tools and their associated operational and maintenance costs. The same can be said of network troubleshooting, since there will be less need for operators to conduct activities like field tests to ensure network performance.

A better performing network will also lead to less regulatory intervention that comes with severe or widespread service outages or degradations. This will result in fewer regulatory fines and less dependency upon financial provisions reserved by mobile operators to deal with this kind of fallout.

Prioritizing mobile backhaul can also help give the visibility needed to right-size the network for better allocation of Capex, which includes the ability to identify parts of the network that are – or will be – over- or underutilized. This helps guarantee capital protection by investing in a long-term strategic platform that evolves and supports all current and future networks.

The combination of new convergent technologies in the backhaul married with better performance assurance practices as described above is what MNOs need to survive and surf the next wave of massive network investments such as LTE-A and 5G.
Cyril Doussau, senior director of InfoVista
Cyril Doussau, senior director, Global Product Marketing, InfoVista