Netradar enables our customers to collect huge amounts of detailed information about their networks and how their own end users experience the wireless service. This has proven to be extremely valuable for our customers.
Some of our customers use the raw data performing their own analysis on it and merging the raw data potentially with other data sources. Others use our visual dashboard to see various performance metrics and maps about their network comparing that to other providers. And some do both.
The fundamental question with a huge amount of detailed data is the information it gives to us. Data is useless unless it reveals some critical insights and helps in the daily operations of a company.
For a mobile network provider, the basic question is, how is my service performing in the eyes of the subscribers? Are they getting (even close to) what they pay for? Locations with great performance are important to know but even more important are places and situations where the subscribers are having quality issues. The Netradar data crunching engine has now been upgraded with numerous AI-powered features and clearly point out locations with suboptimal performance, based on different metrics.
I’ll go over some of the new features that will be deployed during Q3/2022. Our capabilities increase again later this year as we continuously develop new cool ideas.
Missing 4G and 5G
Today 4G/LTE is the dominant mobile technology and will be for many years to come. Yet, 5G is being deployed and eventually will take over. Coverage is built with simulation tools that try to consider signal propagation, geography, and buildings. The fundamental question is, are the mobile subscribers being really served by 4G/5G or are they dropping to 3G or even 2G? How many people are affected and how badly? How well do the planning tools map the real world? The Netradar Coverage AI shows where problems occur, how many people are affected and helps in configuring the network to fill the gaps. Some of these are intentional, a side effect of incrementally deploying a new technology, while others are unintentional and not seen from base station metrics alone.
Low signal quality
While e.g., 4G signal can be available in an area the question is how good is it or how strong? Having a signal available is a prerequisite to offering a wireless service but then the signal characteristics dictate the best possible performance that could be achieved in each location. The Netradar Signal AI highlights these places and prioritizes the locations based on the number of affected subscribers. The dashboard distinguishes between RSRP, RSRQ and RSSNR thus enabling the study of signal power, quality and interference.
Low Top Download Speed
Network top download speed seems to be the most familiar metric to many wireless professionals. It does have its place, among other KPIs. Netradar Speed AI can analyze both top speeds and capacities. We can show specific locations where the top speeds remain low even on a 4G or 5G network and therefore negatively impact the subscribers and their apps.
While top speed is a familiar concept in the end it does not tell the real capacity that is available to the subscribers. A location might give, at times, a very high-top speed but over the course of a day or week, this location might have serious capacity issues where the subscribers are left with very low speeds. This in turn affects the experience that subscribers get from their wireless provider. The Netradar Capacity AI uses our patented hybrid measurement technology to analyze the speeds subscribers are getting and informs when speeds go below acceptable levels. We can show the locations with the highest impact to subscribers and thereby then best potential to increase user satisfaction.
Current 4G networks can already offer low latencies but in 5G latency is increasingly important. Mobile networks are built gradually, having older and newer hardware, different types of connectivity from the base stations to fixed networks with varying signal propagation environments and even capacity constraints. All these will affect the real latency as experienced by the end users. The Netradar Latency AI pinpoints these locations sorting them based on impact to subscribers. With different thresholds, we can paint a very detailed picture of the latency that the subscribers are experiencing in the best and worst cases. This helps tremendously when developing new kind of services that require low latency.
Indoor vs Outdoor
A further unique feature of Netradar solution is our ability to distinguish between outdoor and indoor usage. We can tell if some issue is happening outdoors or if it is tied to indoor coverage. E.g., a shopping mall or office building might have great coverage and performance outdoors but when people enter the building their service drops to an unacceptable level. Indoor base stations might cover the building, but mobile devices might also simply hang on the macro base station and have a low service quality. All the above individual AI features are implemented for both indoor and outdoor use cases. Thus, we can show e.g., bad capacity in outdoor areas or missing 4G in some buildings.
Our AI is focusing on the different KPIs and how many people are affected by the poor performance of the wireless network. This allows focusing the work first on locations with the highest impact to subscribers. Yet some places might not have a great number of subscribers but are otherwise important based on non-technical factors. These locations can be analyzed with our performance and coverage tools with ease.
Further down the path we have interesting features coming up e.g., fully missing coverage of any radio technology (aka. black holes) or low uplink speeds and capacity. We also have capabilities to identify explicit interference to satellite signals, which results in bad location accuracy or even fully missing location-based services. Stay tuned!