SERVICE GUARANTEE AND ANALYSIS FOR THE SERVICE REVOLUTION OF IoT (INTERNET OF THINGS)
The number of narrow-band IoT (NB-IoT) devices is expected to far exceed personal mobile devices in the near future. Obviously, this will lead to NB-IoT service opportunities growing rapidly in the coming years. At the same time, it is also to be expected to provide higher quality technology as well as more attractive price offers, i. e. to offer competitive advantages in comparison with others. Thus, the new NB-IoT standards promise to unlock the market for a wide range of new services and new devices, writes Inna Ott – Marketing Director at Polystar.
Although NB-IoT has recently been standardized and launched, many mobile network operators (MNOs) have already started to implement it on their networks. NB-IoT has been optimized to provide an extension to existing mobile network technologies such as LTE and 3G. Thus, this technology leverages licensed spectrum and provides a convenient solution to the problem of service provision for a wide range of applications. NB-IoT allows the Internt of Things to be offered to devices that require little bandwidth but a much longer battery life than conventional devices.
However, while many Internt of Things applications have low data requirements, others will have more variable needs. There may be demand for highly volatile services: some services may be time-critical, others not. The need for data may be infrequent in some cases while in others the importance may change depending on the different conditions. For example, asset tracking is a key requirement in the logistics industry, but devices used to track material such as containers or pallets only need to transmit or receive data infrequently. The same applies to the location of personal items – network connectivity may only be necessary when the item is lost. On the other hand, applications that are designed to provide infrastructure in intelligent cities may not only have to provide periodic data traffic, but may also be required to respond in real time to specific events and provide irregular updates.
Mobile network operators offering NB-IoT services must ensure that they can meet these changing performance requirements and deliver data effectively, complying with agreed performance indicators (KPIs). This can only be achieved by continuously monitoring service levels. To achieve this, MNOs need the appropriate monitoring tools to collect relevant call traces, signalling information and thus be able to troubleshoot NB-IoT services and devices. Monitoring provides the right information so that mobile network operators can act quickly to correct any issues that affect the experience and performance of the NB-IoT service. Without continuous monitoring, they will not be able to succeed in NB-IoT deployments, delaying deployments, increasing overall costs and eliminating their competitive advantage.
The above will help MNOs to ensure the quality of the NB-IoT services they offer, but it will not be sufficient to guarantee success. Appropriate monitoring and service assurance tools should also include analytical capabilities, so that mobile network operators can manage the diversity of devices to be deployed. In addition, mobile network operators will also have to cover different business relationships as well as collaborations with manufacturers for the provision of NB-IoT services. For example, MNOs can deploy NB-IoT capabilities to support their applications and services, using their own SIM cards integrated into the end devices. They can also make their networks available to other service providers, such as MVNOs or other specialists. Finally, they can also provide roaming capabilities so that devices with SIMs from external providers can connect to their networks as visitors. Mobile network operators could follow one or all of these models. These business relationships encompass both end-users and service providers and connectivity providers, and require different Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for each. They also require a wide range of analytical capabilities, both real-time and historical. The data obtained from analytical information will enable operators to optimise the performance of their services and provide information to enable them to monitor and optimise service performance for other users on their networks. The great diversity and variety of devices and applications makes this task difficult. The customer experience, in this context, becomes a function of the behaviour of the devices, not of people. Therefore, the ability to understand the performance of each device and service is critical to the smooth deployment of MNO’s NB-IoT service portfolio and its ability to power partners.
Inna Ott, Marketing Director at Polystar:»NB-IOT is both an opportunity and a challenge for multinational operators. However, with the careful selection of tools to provide the right levels of monitoring and analysis capabilities, mobile network operators can ensure that they can guarantee a quality and performance-rich vision of NB-IoT service.
MNOs must be able to obtain full visibility of all NB-IoT devices and the network nodes to which they connect. Visibility provides the ability to identify problems as they arise, as well as anticipate potential problems before they impact service performance. They must also be able to access filtered detailed information to be accessible, regardless of the type of service (surveillance of sheep location in the field or provide updates on available parkings), the location (critical for tracking assets), and the correct account (vital to ensure that services provided by the different partners can be correctly identified). This can only be obtained through detailed monitoring and service analysis information, which is captured from the network. The information obtained should be clearly accessible and integrated with data from other legacy service assurance solutions deployed for conventional services. It should be visible within the network operations center (NOC), as well as dedicated portals that present vital vision for the different computers. Finally, mobile network operators must be assured that the solutions they implement to provide these capabilities are fully compatible and aligned with their strategic network transformation objectives, enabling easy migration to virtualization of network functions (NFV) and software-defined network infrastructure (SDN).
NB-IoT is both an opportunity and a challenge for multinational operators. But, with the careful selection of tools to provide the right levels of monitoring and analysis capabilities, mobile network operators can ensure that they can guarantee a quality and performance-rich vision of NB-IoT service. The early use of these tools will allow operators to claim leadership and competitive advantage to take full advantage of the NB-IOT opportunity. Learn more about Polystar.