For Russian operator VimpelCom, customer satisfaction is a top priority. Over the past few years, customers have been requiring more high quality, user-orientated services, with mobile data being the main reason for this evolving demand. VimpelCom’s dedication to customer satisfaction was a key driver behind their success at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.
As one of the largest operators in Russia, VimpelCom needed to prepare their network for the influx of visitors to Sochi. With 85 nations competing in the Games, the population of Sochi increased significantly, with over 1 million people visiting the region. On average, the number of active users on the 3G network was 10,000 per day. This increase in users put a huge demand on the network and its performance, with peak traffic expected to be 5 times the normal level.
Rising to the challenge
VimpelCom had to ensure that its network was working 100 percent, 24/7 in order to deliver consistent services to all users throughout the duration of the Games.
The main challenge for the operator was that due to regulation limitations, only two rival companies who were sponsoring the event had rights to construct indoor base stations inside the buildings where events were held.
This meant that VimpelCom had to provide the same quality of service using only outdoor base stations. In order to prevent outages and minimize network degradation, VimpelCom partnered with Ericsson.
Throughout the project, a dedicated team of operations specialists from both VimpelCom and Ericsson performed network audits, preventative maintenance, multi-vendor remote and on-site monitoring, and proactive fault management.
"Ericsson helped us a lot," says Dmitry Uryvaev, Head of Operations and Maintenance, VimpelCom. "It was important to not only extend the network but also to optimize it and make the best use of it, and we had special support for this from Ericsson during the Sochi Winter Games."
Special event support
In the months leading up to the February Winter Games, Ericsson worked with VimpelCom to improve its network in preparation for the influx of traffic. By performing network audits of the radio access network and circuit switch core network, Ericsson was able to make improvement recommendations which were implemented before the Games.
"We provided Special Event Support during the preparation and execution phases," says Irina Markelova, Service Delivery Manager, Ericsson. "There was a mutually beneficial effort and we worked together to achieve the best results and deliver a perfect experience to users."
Ericsson also implemented special features to cope with high traffic loads in the network, such as HSPA+ which allowed VimpelCom to significantly increase throughput to their customers. As well as the expected high number of users, there was an added challenge in that the network would be put under strain for short periods of time once the Games had opened, particularly during the main events. In order to provide extra capacity and coverage in event hotspots, mobile base stations were constructed.
With the support from Ericsson, VimpelCom succeeded in extending its 3G network and tripled its coverage in every area where events took place. During the 2 weeks of the Games, approximately 8.5 TeraBytes of data were transferred across the network every day – twice the normal average. This was made possible by extending the transport network in order to offer improved data services to customers.
Despite all sorts of challenges, VimpelCom was able to provide stable coverage across the sites where events were held. No major disturbances were reported during the event, but where potential issues were detected, Ericsson provided fast, efficient solutions to avoid any impact on services. This success was reflected in the excellent feedback that VimpelCom received from its customers.
"We had very high customer satisfaction," says Dmitry Uryvaev. "The Sochi Winter Games reinforced the fact that VimpelCom is a provider of high quality telecom services."