VoLTE QoE Assurance Requires Full RAN Visibility

The radio access network (RAN) is at the heart of the mobile customer experience, noted Amdocs in its State of the RAN 2016 report. Delivering a consistent quality of experience (QoE) therefore requires full visibility into the RAN—easier said than done. 

As data traffic carried by the RAN grows by more than 100% every year, operators are driven to deploy voice over LTE (VoLTE) service—a technology that promises to increase available capacity and ease the way to 5G, but in the short term there is significant risk of voice service KPIs falling below those of existing offerings. (For example, Amdocs notes that VoLTE call drops can be 4-5 times higher than 2G/3G.) 

Indeed, as Amdocs notes, 80% of voice call drops and 50% of data throughput issues originate in the RAN. RAN optimization must be a priority.

But, full visibility into the RAN has been problematic because it requires a combination of active and passive test technologies, and wide-scale installations of packet brokers, intelligent taps, and QoE/DPI analyzers is not practical. Without a cost-efficient method to tap all points of interest in the network—from eNodeB to EPC and all points in between—the RAN has been a blind spot. 

Accedian’s FlowBROKER™ solution closes that gap by making distributed packet capture feasible and affordable. It works by using either a miniature, NFV-based Module or smart SFP to tap each point in the network, then conditions and streams the captured data in real-time to a virtualized controller and packet broker. This allows centralized analyzers to gain access to network traffic flows—including any VoLTE session’s signaling and media—to add location-based visibility into call QoE. (Read our solution brief for a full description.)
Amdocs’ report also provides insight into the need for more Wi-Fi offload, the impact of music and sport events, QoE issues experienced by international roamers, the significance of in-building traffic for municipal networks, the necessity of understanding which network problems impact subscribers, and the struggle of managing multiple cellular technologies and vendors.