Identifying Network Performance Gaps Using Customer Data

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Network performance gaps, whether in coverage, capacity, or indoor reach are never a positive. Customers pay for a predictable service, and performance gaps will leave your customers disappointed – leading to churn.

For mobile network operators (MNOs) identifying, prioritising and addressing network performance gaps is critical to customer retention. However, internal network metrics can provide a skewed picture: network-based perspectives are not always the same as faced by the customers of telecom operators.

Besides, internal metrics are not always instantly actionable. The Netradar Suite delivers an independent, actionable data set that highlights network anomalies in a way that’s actionable – and easy to prioritise. Let us take a look.

Netradar data detects three critical network anomalies

With Netradar Suite network operators have the opportunity to identify poorly performing areas of their network in three key areas:

• Capacity problems. In other words, do users regularly experience network congestion in a specific location? What data transfer speeds do users typically experience in that area? If user faces congestion – is this due to the cellular network or due to used app?

• Signal quality issues. A poor network experience can also be due to bad signal quality –influenced by the location of base stations and nearby buildings. Netradar flags areas where RSRP/RSRQ measurements are poor.

• Indoor reception. Users expect good service everywhere – including indoors. The Netradar Suite highlights locations where users are commonly experiencing poor network service indoors and distinguishes indoor coverage issues from broader coverage problems.

Viewed in combination, these three metrics give MNOs insight into the real user experience from different angles. Three different metrics also provide the ability to triangulate when trying to diagnose a network problem, whereas a single metric can be less helpful when it comes to diagnosing issues.

Measurements that reflect the user experience

The data measured by the Netradar Suite has a key advantage over network statistics: data is collected directly on the user’s device and real usage is measured. In other words, anomalies detected by the Netradar Suite directly reflect the experience of real users as they use their device throughout the day.

It is an important distinction. Operator metrics are to a large degree based on readings taken on base stations. These readings do not fully reflect the physical location of the user. It does not tell the operator whether a user is suffering from poor performance due to an awkward indoor location, or while they are located outdoors.

The Anomaly Detector dashboard

All of the above factors can readily be evaluated in a number of convenient ways. First, Netradar Suite presents a visual, colour-coded map that highlights areas of poor performance. This map can be overlaid across satellite imaging so that operators can identify whether performance gaps are occurring in the middle of a forest – or across a densely packed urban area.

Operators can also choose to view anomalies by a specific geographic area – evaluating performance in a target city, for example.

Importantly, Netradar Suite also gives MNOs the ability to rank poorly performing areas in an actionable list. Operators can specify a minimum performance hurdle and immediately receive actionable data that highlights the locations where performance drops below a minimally acceptable level.

The Netradar Suite intuitively presents information in a way that makes it easy for network operators to rapidly identify problem areas. Netradar does not simply display data: we pro-actively organise data so that it is easy for MNOs to identify problem areas.

It’s a uniquely powerful tool: in areas targeted for investment, MNOs can set the sensitivity for poor performance to a very high standard. In other areas, operators can use the Netradar Suite to identify only the areas most likely to lead to customer complaints.

Comparing internal projections with the real world

MNOs are, of course, not making investment decisions blindfolded. Existing network metrics and models are capable – but, as we suggested, network-based models are imperfect and inevitably based on assumptions.

There is another important factor: the real world is dynamic. New construction goes up, equipment undergoes wear-and-tear and the natural environment changes. Network based models are unlikely to keep up with these changes – the manpower required to continuously survey the operating environment is simply too high.

It becomes a particularly significant problem when looking at indoor coverage. However, Netradar’s indoor detector has a unique approach to measuring indoor performance – looking at a range of data points to establish whether poor service is tied to a lack of indoor coverage.

Netradar’s unique user-derived network data gives network operators a critical opportunity to sanity-check network-based modelling. In other words, does the real-life network experience reflect network-based metrics and estimates?

Actionable data that helps operators to accurately prioritise investments

Building and improving mobile networks is an expensive exercise. Investment must be balanced against the cost presented to users, so operators understandably prioritise network investment. However, deciding where to invest first is not easy. The race to roll out 5G in the most effective way compounds existing problems – particularly given 5G’s unique indoor coverage characteristics.

MNOs will, of course, do network-based modelling to determine the optimal investment strategy. However, the assumptions and models used will never sketch a perfectly accurate picture of real-world usage. Netradar Suite adds an important additional layer of data that is highly actionable.

Combining network-based metrics and models with Netradar’s user-derived data source gives MNOs the perfect marriage between theoretical, network-derived network planning data, and the real experiences of users on the ground.

For 5G rollouts Netradar adds another invaluable, unique angle by providing critical insight into the indoor coverage experience. Get in touch with us to see how Netradar's unique user-driven viewpoint can inform your operational decision making – to achieve better investment outcomes and happier users.

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