HomeInsightsOperators leaving money on the table through sub-optimal optimisation

    Operators leaving money on the table through sub-optimal optimisation


    Last week ABI Research reported that an increasing amount of network optimisation would be moving to a managed service model. This would happen because operators will increasingly look to operate network optimisation as an on-going process aimed at improving customer experience, rather than as a project or one-off process aimed at securing certain network level KPIs.

    ABI said that this outsourcing will happen as part of a wider transition of network operations into a managed services model, provided by the liked of Ericsson, NSN and Huawei. The danger for operators is that they design contracts and SLAs with their managed service providers that don’t give them enough control over the actual experience of their most high value customers.

    For example, if they have an SLA that says cell sites must have certain % availability, it’s very likely that the network ops team can meet that commitment, whilst at the same time users are suffering from a less than optimal experience. For example, a high value customer might be regularly getting dropped calls at home, but because he lives in a large, modern house, he’s almost alone in that, within his particular cell. The result is that the operator only sees a report that tells it that the cell in question has 99.9% availability. What it doesn’t see is that its most important customer is just about to churn because important calls keep dropping. 

    So how can operators optimise networks to actually meet customer experience parameters, rather than overall, sector-level, network KPIs?

    Arieso’s Mike Flanagan (picture: above left) argues that it is important that operators, whether they are outsourcing this stuff or not, get much more granular in their management of network KPIs. For instance, cell-level location detail is just not enough – take the case of our stressed executive in his big house — if you are serious about optimising your network for consumer gain, and for best revenue uplift, you need to know down to the building what your dropped call/error rate is. 

    Flanagan said that as an example Arieso had, after talking to a lot of operators, defined three KPIs that reflect a better customer-centric focus. These are:

    • KPI 1: Threshold numbers of 4G-capable customers served by 3G, and 3G customers served by 2G
    • KPI 2: High Value customers whose “personal retainability” or “corporate retainability” is below a certain threshold
    • KPI 3: High Value customers whose “personal data experience” or “corporate data experience” is below a certain threshold

    Yet there is another danger; that you end up with a whole load of KPIs, and the whole thing become impossible to manage.

    “Going back to [the introduction of] UMTS there was definitely a move to a huge number of different metrics: that was completely unwieldy and eventually the industry moved to two or three very key ones. But the pendulum is swinging back, not as far as it once did but operators are recognising that they have only a partial picture. So they are moving instead towards something a little bit cuter and more complex than a cut to the bone minimalist set of KPIs. There are more sophisticated questions to be asked,” he told Mobile Europe.

    Indeed, some operators are paying bonuses to engineers who are incentivised to minimise the amount of 4G-capable traffic that is being served on 3G, Flanagan said.

    The 4G/3G threshold mentioned above is one example of a more sophisticated question. Operators will want to know that 4G customers are attached to 4G coverage wherever they can be, so they can be benefitting from the experience they have paid for. Knowing which users are not attaching, and where, means operators can take action, rather than looking at a stat that tells them that, overall, a cell is working fine.

    The next question is then, what should an operator do with this data? One one clear use case, and the traditional side of network optimisation, is to know where to apply their capital.  (“If I have budget to deploy 200 small cells in a city centre, where do I put them?” Flanagan said.)

    Another use of the data is to help operators do a better job of their own marketing.

    “Getting this more location-centric and customer-aware information can help an operator to do a better job of the marketing and monetisation side. They can combine this info with other details, their knowledge of customer lifetime value, age profiles, and produce a more complex match between the way you're growing your network and how marketing teams are looking at the customer base.”

    “Instead of a sector level approach to the network, operators are now looking to other KPIS to characterise and group collections of individuals, adding in detailed location level detail. The availability of this sort of information has come of age in the industry, now is the time for network operators to take action in response to this information,” Flanagan concluded.