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The secret to identifying the network anomalies that operators can’t always see

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Operating cellular network infrastructure that performs flawlessly has never been easy: problematic network anomalies were common from the inception of first-generation analogue networks through to the roll-out of 5G. Guaranteeing a smooth network experience involves a tough mix of variables including physical environment, technical equipment, and unpredictable user behaviour.

Operators have extensive network statistics to work with, but these numbers do not readily turn into actionable insights, and network statistics cannot comprehensively account for the user’s device experience. After all, it is the user experience that counts.

Networks try their best, but some users remain unhappy

By carefully balancing infrastructure investment and end-user prices operators usually manage to offer a broadly acceptable service. Occasional dips in service will dominate a generally good network experience, while a small number of customers consistently getting poor service will make their voices heard, drowning out the happy customers. Network operators must, therefore, do everything they can to stamp out all service glitches.

The Netradar Market Analyzer difference

Despite a wealth of network statistics operators can struggle to iron out the kinks in the end-user experience. Why? Well, network operators are limited in two respects:

  • Raw data is not instantly actionable
    Network operators do not always operate internal platforms that comprehensively analyse and interpret network statistics from the user experience perspective. So, their wealth of data does not deliver the right answers.

     

  • Network statistics do not always reflect the device experience
    For a multitude of reasons, network statistics including signal strength and median download and upload speeds are not necessarily indicative of the real device experience. Network statistics might give a thumbs up, but users could still be frustrated.

     

  • Furthermore, sometimes the problem is a bad WIFI and not the cellular network, which the consumer does not realize, and it might be the apps, too, that behave badly
    Hunting down a fault that is not in the operator’s domain wastes a lot of time and resources.

Netradar’s Market Analyzer bridges the gap in two ways. First, Market Analyzer provides actionable insights, prioritising network anomalies for further investigation using easy to interpret visualisations.

Next, Market Analyzer collects data where it matters most: the end user’s device. Doing so fills important gaps in network statistics, providing deeper insight into the network anomalies that are causing users to churn.

Which anomalies can Market Analyzer’s Anomaly Detector shed light on?

Pinpointing the real reason for user frustration is rarely easy, doing so quickly and efficiently enough to comprehensively iron out glitches across a large cellular network is extremely difficult. Market Analyzer’s Anomaly Detector is a dashboard-driven tool that automatically highlights network anomalies.

With Market Analyser network operators can easily identify – and prioritise for repair – network anomalies that exist in three key areas:

Problems with network coverage and capacity

Balancing network coverage against demand and the cost of network investment has always been a tricky affair. On top of that, network operators do not always have full insight into areas that experience a poor signal, such as the interiors of buildings. Market Analyzer provides clarity on:

  • Poor network coverage in busy areas
    Thanks to the actionable insights on the Market Analyzer dashboard network operators can rapidly identify which areas are currently under-served by network coverage.

     

  • Problematic indoor coverage
    Extensively surveying every building near a base station isn’t practical, but network operators can rely on Market Analyzer to help identify where large numbers of users have problems getting an indoor signal. In turn, the operator can investigate the situation more closely and, if warranted, install repeaters or DAS equipment to ensure a good network experience.

     

  • Network capacity limitations
     Acquiring excellent network signal quality does not always convert to excellent customer experience. In city centres, for example, a lack of network capacity often leads to a poor customer experience. Market Analyzer priorities and pinpoints locations where capacity enhancements are needed.
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Fixing poor app experiences

Raw network data including signal strength, peak data rates, and latency are important metrics, but these metrics alone cannot comprehensively account for a user’s actual app experience. Netradar takes measurements at the device level, more closely matching the real user experience.

Market Analyzer monitors and logs real-time app experiences, including the typical data speeds requested by an app and instances where the network was constraining app performance. This data is distilled into a dashboard which helps operators in two key ways:

  • Prioritise areas with subpar service levels
    Netradar provides an easy to consult report that ranks areas according to the real user experience. For example, capacity constraints – too many users relying on a base station – can cause subpar service levels at peak times. Operators can identify these areas with ease thanks to Anomaly Detector.


  • Identify apps that do not perform as expected
    Some apps are of particularly high importance to users – think streaming video from Netflix. Anomaly Detector analyses the experience on individual apps and outlines key areas to improve on – and whether it is a local issue, or indeed a nationwide problem. It may simply be down to the app itself.

Technical network glitches causing service issues

The device data collected by Netradar also provide real insight into a range of technical network glitches. Measurements are combined with comparative, historical numbers so that Market Analyzer can draw a comprehensive network picture, providing insights on glitches including:

  • Cell overshooting.
    A cell may cause performance issues by interfering with the dominant cell. Network engineers will attempt to avoid these problems. Anomaly Detector compliments network statistics, providing readily actionable reports.

  • Sleeping cells.
    Operators can usually identify a tower that is no longer working, but sometimes network statistics do not detect these cells.


  • Pilot pollution
    Devices rely on pilot signals to navigate cellular networks, but where several base stations overlap these pilot signals can become polluted, making it tough for devices to provide consistent network performance.
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Augmenting your network statistics with Market Analyzer

In closing, Netradar’s Market Analyzer including Anomaly Detector is not intended to replace existing tools that network operators already have. Instead, Anomaly Detector and other Market Analyzer features augment internal data with data measured on the device.

Furthermore, Market Analyzer provides a platform that delivers actionable reports and insights. Network operators can simply log in and determine the most important action points straight away.

To see why Market Analyzer can provide such impactful insights, contact us for a demonstration with real network data.

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