Interview With Nitin Bansal, VP & Head, Network Products, Ericsson India

Q. Why has network optimization become a critical need for telcos now?

Near-ubiquitous coverage and a fast and reliable connection are the most important drivers of smartphone user satisfaction, and therefore must haves for superior networks that stand out from competition. Given that there are substantial number of users who are not very satisfied with their operator’s network, there is substantial potential to generate competitive advantage through enhancement of network performance.

Operators can significantly enhance customer perception on network quality by addressing the top three problems: internet connection issues, app and service crashes, and slow network speeds. Providing an excellent network with great coverage and fast data speeds where apps run smoothly is absolutely essential in order to achieve high customer satisfaction and increased revenues.

Q. How optimizing networks would affect the telcos, from a capex and opex perspective?

The worldwide surge in smartphones and smart mobile devices has placed new and ever-changing demands on mobile networks and systems. To deliver true in-service performance, network design should be viewed by operators as a constantly evolving process. An optimum network design will ensure that typical bottlenecks which limit smartphone performance such as backhaul under-dimensioning and unnecessary inter-technology handovers that push smartphone users to slower networks are kept under control.

Operators can secure optimum network performance and end-user experience by continuously tuning their networks to ensure adequate capacity and coverage to meet customer needs.

It is here that Ericsson’s Network Optimization services help customers get the most out of their network investment, with the focus on network performance and end-user experience.
We are working with numerous operators across the globe on network optimization and have brought our learnings and experience to share with our customers in India. We are supporting leading Indian telcos in optimizing their mobile broadband network by helping them deliver enhanced quality of service, reduce churn and earn additional revenue.

Q. How Ericsson is helping out its customers in resolving issues around network optimization? What are the new solutions it has developed and how future-ready they are?

Ericsson’s network optimization solutions not only help improve network performance but also measure and analyze end-user experience to maximize asset utilization. Ericsson offers an end-to-end network optimization solution consisting of people, tools and processes that covers all elements of a mobile operator’s network. Our offering includes an E2E delivery platform, automation and offshoring, industrialized best practices and consultative scoping.

We offer optimization of the performance of existing or new services, for example, voice, data throughput, mobile TV, TV broadcast in the existing network (Via the Access, Core, Transport and Service Layers), and the optimization of the performance of the existing infrastructure resources (such as Base Stations, RNC s. Enode B etc.) in a multi-technology and multi-vendor (Circuit Switched, Packet Switched, wireline, wireless) network infrastructure. In addition to that, we also help in the introduction of Global competence levels and best practice processes to the operators’ network to maintain optimal technical and service performance levels.

Q. Is optimization of network different from voice to data? How?

The new reality that the networks need to cater for is not just data, but the apps that consumers’ use. To that effect Ericsson’s App Experience Optimization is a new service offering which brings the users’ app experience into focus in the process of improving network performance.

In addition to the conventional network-related KPIs, App Experience Optimization establishes service KPIs which are tailored to the apps and services used in the local market. These metrics are generally linked to four key criteria: availability, accessibility, integrity, and retainability. Armed with information correlating network KPIs with local service KPI objectives, performance opportunities in the network are identified. Ericsson’s network design and optimization experts can then optimize to meet specific local objectives and specify future investments which will matter most to the end-users.

Q. As 4G/LTE gaining traction here, telcos will shift to an all-IP network. How it is going to affect the voice as well as data traffic, consequently, the customers?

Voice over LTE (VoLTE) allows an operator to offer both voice and data to customers without switching between bands, with voice being just another application that rides on an LTE data network. Telecom companies are currently adopting VoLTE either for high spectral efficiency, which means more voice users can be provided service with the same amount of spectrum, or for enhanced service offerings such as high definition voice.

Q. Besides lack of ample spectrum, what are the other factors in Indian telecom industry that demands prompt optimization of its networks?

Mobile broadband users rely on a good connection to the internet, and this dependency is becoming even more critical now with the rapid uptake of smartphones, where connection to the cloud and access to apps are demanded anytime and anywhere. Users are also becoming increasingly sophisticated, with stronger opinions on what – in their own view – are the causes of their user experience issues, prompting operators to place a greater focus on improving factors that affect user experience.

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