How can networks deal with the demands coming with the VoLTE revolution?

VoLTE (Voice over LTE) signals the start of a new era – one that phases out older, less efficient, and more costly circuit-switched voice networks—and brings voice and data together on an all-IP LTE infrastructure. It is a shift that will mean big efficiencies and cost savings moving forward, as well as opening up the spectrum for data-hungry services such as mobile video.

To date, 15 operators in the United States, South Korea, Denmark and other countries have launched commercial VoLTE services and following the launch of the iPhone 6 this year, services are now becoming more commercially available across the globe. This even extends to wearable devices, with LG’s Watch Urbane LTE letting users make VoLTE calls directly without a smartphone connection.

But the rise of these mobile services is bringing new complexities to light for mobile operators – growth in users, data and the need to invest in better digital infrastructures. To deal with these challenges, digital infrastructure monitoring is being analysed and revamped to accommodate these demands.

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To reap the benefits and handle VoLTE’s unique monitoring demands, mobile operators are rethinking their approach to digital infrastructure performance monitoring. Operations teams are looking for an end-to-end solution that allows them to provide a seamless service so they can track irregularities.

The solution needs to be agnostic to the multiple vendor-made components on the network, from the smartphones to the backhaul links, switches and servers, and the embedded services in the IMS core.

To add to the complexity, because these technologies are so new, there isn’t standardisation across the industry or best practices for monitoring and managing them. This is the case for both operators and suppliers.

In addition, operations teams need to be able to forecast the impact of growth of application layer transactions and surges in call-flow messaging as VoLTE subscriber numbers continue to increase.

More performance data, more challenges

On top of trying to create metrics that monitor different server performance levels, dealing with the increasing levels of traffic on the network and being vendor-agnostic, additional challenges for operation teams arise from importing and integrating big data. Infrastructure performance monitoring systems need a design that can physically handle massive data flows; imagine collecting, processing and reporting data from time-sensitive voice service for around a million subscribers… in real-time.

A common problem cited by operators is that these new digital infrastructures are stretching legacy monitoring tools to the breaking point. With multiple metrics, tidal waves of data and fluctuating demand, companies are struggling to effectively monitor their digital infrastructures – responsible for delivering vital applications and services.

And as data increases and monitoring domains continue expand into unchartered territories—blind spots, knowledge gaps, and delays are becoming a daily reality.

Another important aspect of handling these services is understanding what constitutes ‘normal’ behaviour on the server and for each key element along the end-to-end call path. Collecting and creating baselines against performance metrics, and incorporating the time of day and seasonal shifts become the foundation for alerts and alarms to distinguish between an acceptable variation and an irregularity that signals emerging problems in within the digital network and overall infrastructure.

Collaboration is key

To reap the benefits from these key capabilities calls for a new and vastly more intimate degree of collaboration between mobile operators, equipment, suppliers and monitoring tool vendors. Some systems are so new that both operators and suppliers are still figuring out how to effectively measure them.

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When these new metrics are added or changed on the network and infrastructure, monitoring tools must be flexible enough to adapt quickly and incorporate them.

Effective performance monitoring workflows do more than track the real-time health of the VoLTE service; they provide access to all your data, identify under-performance and reveal congestion for continuous service delivery insight. It is this level of insight that operations teams need in order to get the most from their networks and for mobile operators to continue improving and optimising VoLTE services.

Only then with the VoLTE revolution truly realise its potential.

Sourced from Tom Griffin, Vice President – Systems Engineering – EMEA, SevOne

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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