Cable multiple system operators (MSOs) in the U.S. are evolving their business models yet again by rolling out their own wireless services. Take Comcast NBCUniversal, for example: the company, which once was predominantly a cable TV provider but now does the bulk of its business through broadband internet access, last April launched Xfinity Mobile, a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) subsidiary that delivers wireless access through a combination of their own wi-fi hotspots and Verizon’s network. Charter Communications has plans to launch a similar offering of its own in 2018, leveraging an MVNO deal it has with Verizon.
Even if their intention is not going head-to-head with mobile network operators (MNOs), at least at first, MSOs in the wireless space nonetheless face significant competitive and customer satisfaction pressures. Making such ventures successful requires forging partnerships that once would have been unthinkable (like Comcast and Charter Communications teaming up to expand both their mobile coverage areas) and using a variety of access technologies, including 3.5 GHz unlicensed LTE spectrum, Wi-Fi (which Comcast used as a marketing point in its Xfinity Mobile launch announcement) and small cells.
Cable MSOs running MVNO business units must first and foremost ensure they’re meeting subscriber expectations. One way to do that is apply artificial intelligence for automated service assurance as they are now doing with broadband internet. Even more traditional methods of performance monitoring, though, requires a uniform method of managing the customer experience across a diversity of access technologies. To be able to act on service disruptions and manage quality of experience (QoE) requires accurate granular visibility that is agnostic to specific vendors, topologies, and access networks. Minute delays, microbursts, and micro-losses can have a profound impact on the customer experience.
As Accedian has helped Cox Communications with for their cable broadband and MVNO services (using customer premises equipment/CPE), the only really reliable method of achieving end-to-end service assurance nowadays is to add a consistent instrumentation layer that essentially resides above interoperability issues on multi-vendor networks. Such instrumentation, which can be mostly or totally virtualized depending on the application, works just as well for MVNO infrastructure as it does for DOCSIS-based cable offerings and traditional mobile networks.