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Telecom Operators primed to benefit from Smart Networks

Posted in Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on August 18, 2011

The profusion of smartphones and other data centric devices are pushing the limits of network traffic and bandwidth. As Mobile networks underwent fundamental changes in the evolution from 1G to 4G. Network speeds, the number of users and the diversity of applications and services have skyrocketed. These changes are forcing operators to rethink their network-management strategies — not a minor tweak, but a major overhaul.

Comprehensive network management strategies and services now enable operators to avoid becoming dumb pipes. The first step is completely rethinking how to manage their networks.

Before mobile data became popular, operators focused on engineering their networks. Now, operators are shifting their focus from networks to traffic. With infrastructure that provides packet-level insights into that traffic, operators now can identify different traffic types and apply a specific policy to each one. For example, operators can dynamically allocate bandwidth and loadbalancing links to improve latency and throughput. As a result, they can use Quality of (network) Services as a powerful market differentiator. The key is to understand how customers use services and the network resources associated with that usage. Hence the differentiator is based on the network’s ability to gather broader, deeper, real-time information about user sessions.

This allows operators to engineer applications, including managing traffic and dynamically provisioning resources, to ensure all applications deliver the best possible performance.

Operators also can use the network’s awareness of user content and context to deliver services tailored to each subscriber’s usage patterns. For example, operators might create a service targeted at parents with family payment plans so they can monitor their children’s activities. Another service might cater to users who watch a lot of video on their devices by prioritizing video over other applications. These are few examples of how application engineering enables operators to reduce costs, create additional revenue streams and improve the user experience.

Thus the concept of smart networks is based on the following 4 main aspects:
• Visibility. See exactly what applications customers use, where the network hot spots are and what’s causing those hot spots.
• Control. Prioritize traffic, set policies and block traffic, if necessary.
• Optimization. There are 2 aspects of optimization. The first is capacity and efficient use of network resources. The second is optimizing the quality of experience for users.
• Monetization. Get new revenue streams from the applications and services on the network

Using an intelligent/smart networks operators can offload up to 70% of Internet traffic at the network edge. That offload increases core network efficiency, improves the user experience and reduces CapEx by up to 50%. This approach enables operators to use their resources more efficiently and apply the packet core platform/network based intelligence to dynamically offload traffic.

The smart networks take the operators out of the unsustainable dumbpipe business. and helps them reduce expenses, create new revenue streams and strengthen profitability. Just as important, it makes it possible to engineer and optimize the user experience. That translates into stronger customer loyalty.

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