As the lead player in an increasingly competitive market, Azercell has a prestigious reputation to uphold. It keeps ahead of its competition by combining excellent network quality, technological leadership and the best customer care.
In May 2012, thousands of spectators filled the Crystal Hall in Baku to witness a major European music event that would be broadcasted all over the world. With all eyes on Azerbaijan, Azercell went up against its competitors in an effort to maintain a standard of service quality that would cater to the needs of its densely packed subscribers.
With more than 20,000 live spectators, many of them from overseas, the operator had a duty to ensure that each of them would receive a sufficient standard of service. It was vital that nothing went wrong.
A matter of reputation
The main goal was to guarantee consistent service quality. As subscribers voted for their favorite artists the network traffic would peak – during these times it was necessary to ensure optimal network availability, capacity and performance. Azercell also had to handle a huge upsurge in mobile internet usage, introduced to Azerbaijan earlier in the year, with volume increases of more than 600 percent.
This was the first time Azercell had experienced a task of this kind, catering for a large number of visitors inside an open, newly built area, and within a very limited timeframe. In addition to its own subscribers, Azercell also had to contend with the influx of international roaming traffic as foreign guests came in from all over the world to attend. It needed a strong network capable of handling significant traffic bursts in voice, SMS/MMS, video upload and streaming.
"It was a matter of reputation both for us and for the country," says Cristina Coscodan, CMO, Azercell. "We were also providing the full range of mobile services to the event organization committee, as well as the subcontractors and vendors involved in production."
Meeting the deadline
Prior to the event Ericsson performed checks on critical aspects of the network in specific locations. This was to ensure that the network would perform optimally and also to identify any areas of concern that needed to be resolved before the event. Ericsson monitored the network and provided 24/7 support throughout.
There were a number of challenges faced in the run-up to the event, the first of which being the short amount of time allocated for the construction of the network itself. The second was the sheer number of subscribers who attended the event. It was expected that the proportion of Azercell subscribers would correlate to some extent with its market share, but the reality was that the majority of visitors were relying on Azercell’s network, which added a great deal of pressure.
"Azercell has worked with Ericsson since its inception, and continues to use its products for its core, radio and mobile broadband networks," says Khaver Babazade, ICT Department Director, Azercell. "It has great experience in supporting large global events – for this reason it was natural to partner with Ericsson from the lead-up to the event itself."
A world-class performance
For those attending the event, the success of this project meant that they were able to receive uninterrupted service – even in the most crowded areas. "A good quality of voice signal was maintained, in addition to the full range of mobile internet services offered by the operator," explains Oguz Pardun, Country Manager, Ericsson Azerbaijan. "The results at the SMS center showed that all vote SMSs were accepted into the system and processed successfully. In addition, all KPIs were shown to meet the world standard."
The smooth user experience maintained during the event paved the way for the introduction of the first 4G network in Azerbaijan, bringing the latest in mobile broadband technology to Azercell subscribers.
Khaver Babazade shares her thoughts on the best way for operators to prepare for such events: "Operators should prepare their risk management plans as early as possible. They need to involve all stakeholders when making decisions – communication is very important. And of course they should get acquainted with the experiences of other operators who have faced similar events in the past – in this area we were glad that Ericsson could help."