How can regulators act on mobile networks performance?

Wed 27 Mar 2019

Availability and performance of mobile networks contribute to making access to information and to numerous services easier for citizens and companies, thus simplifying both their life and business. They are in that sense fundamental levers for economic and social development.
Improving the quality of service of these networks is not the sole prerogative of telecom operators. Regulators also have a role to play.

3 questions to Paul-Michel Bognier, Head of the End-to-End Network Performance division : 

What actions can regulators set up?

One of the main roles of Regulators is to promote healthy competition, for the benefit of citizens and companies. Their task is also to contribute to developing territories through the roll out of connectivity.

One of the actions that Regulators may conduct for this purpose is to measure the quality of service (QoS) supplied by the various domestic mobile operators.

On the one hand, they will be able to check in a wholly objective manner that each operator fulfils the coverage and QoS commitments pertaining to its license.

On the other hand, benchmarking operators, and communicating widely the results to the public, will naturally push operators to improve their performance in order to remain in pole position or to reach it.

Even if the operators measure this QoS, I recommend that regulators set up independent analyses. They will be able to define the same measurement protocol for all operators, based on international standards but adapted to the actual uses of the population. This way, they will get reliable results easily comparable with one another.

What are the difficulties of quality of service analysis?

There are in my opinion two major difficulties for Regulators:

The first one is the complexity of the equipment required for taking QoS measures and above all draw conclusions and effective recommendations from them.
Whether they are measurement or analysis tools, they are often extremely feature-rich but complex to use. They require numerous manual tasks, which are very time-consuming and sources of error. It is therefore essential to have experienced radio engineers to evaluate data and provide true and convincing analyses and reports.

The second difficulty is linked to the costs of these solutions. Measuring quality of service is indeed expensive. Both for purchase or yearly maintenance, the present solutions require significant budgets, sometimes difficult to justify when conducting only 1 or 2 annual campaigns.

Sofrecom offers a Quality of Service  measurement tool : SMAQ. How does it stand out from other solutions?

SMAQ has been designed to simplify production of reports and to speed up data analysis.

First, SMAQ is available in SaaS mode, hence logs may be uploaded directly from the field, from a PC or a smartphone. As with any SaaS tool, mutualisation of the service between several customers enables us to offer a very competitive pricing.

SMAQ produces measurement reports and is able to adapt to any test protocol. Once the logs are uploaded, you only need a few minutes to get the required report. The reports contain figures but also maps and graphs helping you visualize very fast where the problems are or how the operators position themselves. A large part of the results is perfectly understandable and exploitable by anyone, no need for radio expertise.

Finally, SMAQ enables you to carry out 1st-level analyses easily in order to identify the causes of a QoS problem. It is an undeniable asset for whom wishes to conduct actions and see improvements rapidly.