A company that was supposed to be exhibiting at the Mobile World Congress (and of course now won’t be) is the Canadian telecoms assurance group EXFO. Like many other providers EXFO views service assurance as a potential pain-in-the-neck for communication service providers as the race towards the next generation of networks. The new digital era of network slicing, open source, cloud native and 5G is going to require the necessary infrastructure and policies to be in place if telco’s are to meet customer expectations in regards to agility, flexibility, cost and assurance.
Philippe Morin, CEO of EXFO, such sweeping technological changes mean there is definitely a need to re-evaluate service assurance. EXFO’s ‘adaptive service assurance’ is part of getting all this under control.
EXFO states that its own platform Nova A|SA automatically provides the correct data at the right time in order to make sense of big data swamps. Philippe claims the EXFO offering can reveal previously invisible “little data” on individual user experience. As a one-off in the industry, the EXFO platform incorporates the relevant layers, domains and data sources which are included from third parties and EXFO’s unique range of service assurance provisions.
Philippe sates that research demonstrates that the first stage NFV, where it has been deployed actually appears to be responsible for more outages that the systems it has been replacing. However as things stand operators are blind to the way virtualized services are operating.
The new network brings with it much complexity and automation has to be advanced in order to provide a better visibility into the network in real time.
EXFO claims that the majority of a telco’s customer’s rate their brand experience on the performance and capabilities of the network. There is massive commercial potential for those operators who can successfully provide on the capacity of 5G and consequently gain customer loyalty. However, they are facing unparalleled and unique challenges:
- Operators are currently 98.7% blind to subscriber-impacting events, despite their best efforts. They are provided only with performance averages and aggregates, rather than per-subscriber problems with unique service experiences. It is only an approximate view of the health of their networks and how well they are performing.
- 91% of operators say they need service assurance automation to maintain control. As networks continue to virtualize, outages have escalated by 46% in the last three years alone, 65% of which originate in virtualized domains.
- Operations teams are stretched to the limit: On average, operator teams spend 67% of their time fixing network and service issues. Resolution effort and complexity of outages are increasing: it typically takes 12 people from three different teams over three hours to identify the root cause of each outage.
So, we should be conscious of time-wasting and absorbing ourselves in data lakes trying to distinguish patterns. Better visibility and automation must go together to give a real-time view of a problem and an automatic way of solving it.