Best Practices General

Five Ways to Improve Service Assurance and Enhance Subscriber QoE

By Incognito on August, 23 2012

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These days, there is a lot on a cable operator’s mind: the rising costs of programming, competition from Telco and Over-the-Top video, and the ever-increasing demand for bandwidth. Time and place-shifting have become more of a consumption norm than an anomaly and consumers want access to any content, anywhere, anytime, and from any device. With the increase in network traffic, operators are rightfully focusing their attention on enhancing subscribers’ overall Quality of Experience (QoE), instead of a sole focus on Quality of Service (QoS).

These surefire guidelines are the building blocks to enhancing service assurance and improving subscriber experience.

1. Leverage Service Provisioning Data

One of the most critical components of the service value chain is the data extracted from the provisioning process. Each step provides useful information that can be cross-referenced with subscriber profiles and usage information to provide real-time service status. Service provisioning captures a service order, matches the order with the internal product catalog, and goes through a set of business logic to fulfill the request. Southbound integration and device configuration enable the actual "turning on" of the requested service on a particular modem or set-top box with authenticated and authorized MAC and IP addresses. Provisioning data can also be leveraged using network traffic monitoring tools and an integrated service portal or customer self-help portal. The ability to link a subscriber, services, and status identifies areas where subscriber QoE can be enhanced.

2. Roll-out Services Quickly

The long product development and network enablement cycle cause operators to miss important opportunities. Operators need to push out new services fast to capitalize on new, often emerging consumer demands and capture revenue. Activation platforms with open APIs give operators the option to leverage vendor or internal resources to speed up the roll-out process. Tools like intuitive web-based configuration, pre-configured service creation templates, and pre-built interfaces in payment gateways all enable flexible and speedy set up of services. New services can help retain and add new subscribers.

3. Enhance User Experience with Diagnostic Tools

Not long ago, it was somewhat rare to see cable operators being recognized for top-notch customer service. Now, with advanced technologies, operators have gained considerable strides in customer service evidenced by the fast climb along with industry ratings, such as the JD Power and Associates annual telecom service providers’ ranking. One of the most critical tools is advanced diagnostics. For example, operators can now collect network alarms based on correlation engines and policy rules to help pinpoint the root cause of outages and degradations. Customer service representatives (CSRs) can proactively respond to trouble tickets without relying on subscribers to call in and report service issues. This not only reduces mean time to repair (MTTR) and operational costs, but also liberates network technicians, NOC operators, and CSRs from mundane manual work.

4. Understand Usage Behavior with IPDR

To plan ahead, operators must first understand subscriber usage patterns. Though there are many options for collecting such data, Internet Protocol Detail Record (IPDR) stands out as the least network straining route. Once collected from your CMTSs, you can use tools to transform this wealth of raw data into actionable intelligence to manage network traffic, especially at times of congestion. The same network insight can be used to tailor service offerings for subscribers, and to implement usage-based billing and consumption-based models.

IPDR is especially advantageous with large-scale data sets; it provides extensible data models making it a reliable and fault-tolerant data source. IPDR is more suitable than SNMP polling for reliably monitoring DOCSIS service flows. Given IPDR’s role in providing detailed DOCSIS network status information from signal quality to per modem device diagnostics, it has become an integral part of an OSS/Service assurance solution, therefore controlling costs and enhancing the subscriber experience.

5. Integration

Whether your deployed tools are network-centric or service-centric, an integrated approach can reduce delays and errors and increase ease of use. The fulfillment process can be streamlined with after-sales care and supported with open APIs. Open APIs also connect modularized features and functions. This allows operators to quickly integrate legacy tools to provide end-to-end visibility, thus providing faster and more effective troubleshooting capabilities.

In conclusion, service order set up, activation process, and device-level provisioning data coupled with traffic information, provides the foundation for data analysis, which in turn enables service assurance and enhanced quality of experience for the consumers.

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