Market Analysis

Metanetworks: a new challenge for telcos

Mon 23 Feb 2015

To improve access to services and ensure a differentiating customer experience, operators – and multiplay ones in particular – must transform and optimize the rollout and management of a mix of networks.

A metanetwork for a mega experience

In theory, telecom operators cover almost the entire national territory, but in practice users sometimes suffer connectivity problems, for example in public transport or inside buildings, due to coverage holes, slow data speeds or network saturation. The challenge of total coverage is now changing as the focus shifts to service continuity and an exemplary customer experience. This is only possible if operators put together and manage in a unified manner a kind of “metanetwork” composed of numerous interconnected technological bricks: landlines (PSTN, DSL, FTTx), wireless (WiFi hotspots, shared WiFi, WiMAX, etc.), cellular (2G, 3G, 4G) and satellite links. All this requires heavy investments at a time when traditional revenues are under intense pressure.  

Unified management of this “jigsaw” network with the aim of providing continuity of service and an enchanting customer experience is far from simple.

Global governance

The operator must adapt his governance to the realities of his new metanetwork and create an investment metaplan that encompasses all its parts. This explains why some European operators have reduced their geographic ambitions in order to give themselves the means of consolidating their multiplay positioning. Vodafone is one example: after spinning off its business in the United States it bought out some European cable operators in order to focus on fixedline services, notably in Germany and Spain. Telefónica, Orange and BT have adopted the same logic.

Optimal use of resources

Operators have several ways of rationalizing the investments needed to optimize the creation and management of a mix of networks:

  •  Network sharing to reduce both CAPEX and OPEX.
  • Techniques to optimize fixed and mobile traffic transport (off-load, femtocell, etc.) can help decongest the network and improve QoS. - Standards such as LTE-Advanced can optimize spectral efficiency.
  • Network virtualization enables dynamic network configuration and brings down operating overheads.
  • Platform standardization and sharing simplifies the interoperability of applications.

Deep network transformation

To manage the metanetwork optimally three actions are essential:

  •  Migrate to all-IP and adopt APIs to facilitate interoperability between different network bricks.
  • Choose an efficient, flexible cloudtype architecture.
  • Employ data analysis techniques to monitor QoS, adapt the network configuration and improve performance.

 The challenge for operators is to make these transformations simultaneously while maintaining current activities, ensuring customer confidentiality and data security and respecting the obligations imposed by their license.