It’s an experience that every smartphone user has had at some point: there’s a full set of coverage bars on screen, but nothing seems to be happening. No emails will download, social media won’t update and streamed content simply grinds to a halt. The cause is often a mobile broadband bottleneck caused by an unusual peak in demand. The network is working, but it’s gridlocked.
The solution is to build more capacity into the system with investment in new radio sites, new hardware and extra carriers, right? Well maybe. Such overloads can often be tackled much more efficiently through a smarter approach by serving data users in real time, using Ericsson WCDMA Flow of Users solution. Smartphone data exponential growth
As the number of smartphones in use has sky-rocketed, so the potential for mobile broadband overloads is growing, especially in hard-pressed 3G networks where limited spectrum availability and out-of-date hardware and faulty software settings often make matters worse.
Mobile broadband overloads can occur anywhere in the network. Some are ‘normal’, recurring traffic peaks in high-density areas like airports or train stations. Others are caused by planned, but infrequent, occasions such as weekend sports events. There are also much less predictable situations such as: traffic jams, demonstrations and one-off events.
To maintain good user experience, and protect precious data revenues, operators need to ensure their networks can cope with such demand peaks at all times. By designing the network to handle unplanned surge in traffic successfully, it will also be better at managing normal and planned events.
Time to rethink KPIs
Dealing with mobile broadband bottlenecks means reexamining some of the KPIs being used by most operators today. Many of these KPIs were devised before the rise of the smartphone, and long before mobile data usage levels are where they are today. Generally, they serve to maximize users’ time connected on the network and to ensure some form of data connection is provided, even if it’s delivering poor end user experience.
The Ericsson WCDMA Flow of Users solution turns this thinking on its head. This solution takes an innovative approach to provide increased network performance and enhanced user experience. This is achieved by serving connected users as efficiently as possible, while minimizing their connection time.
The goal is to always maximize users’ experiences, even during high load conditions, while protecting speech services. This approach allows greater control of the arrival rate in the network, in order to maintain a steady flow of users. Applying the solution secures lower latency and higher rates for active smartphones. This means that smartphones will be connected in less time, thereby consuming fewer resources and allowing for greater data consumption anytime, anywhere.
Based on our experience in the field we have defined a selection of carefully selected set of Ericsson WCDMA features and network parameter settings which together contribute most to increased network performance and enhanced user experience. Essentially, they help the WCDMA system to automatically generate the perfect balance, ensuring an optimal flow of users through the radio network by:
- Controlling the arrival rate
- Improving the uplink – suppressing and minimizing interference maintaining coverage
- Maximizing the departure rate – supporting multicarrier and low latency, and securing HSPA licenses for highest Radio Access Bearer (RAB) efficiency
- Optimizing hardware efficiency – using baseband efficiency features
- Improving retainability – reducing voice drop rates
- Managing overload – prioritizing users and traffic.
By applying the Ericsson WCDMA Flow of Users solution, operators will have a very good baseline for their 3G networks with simplified network management and improved performance. Then they can easily identify any need for new hardware, power, codes, carriers or HSPA licenses.
Impressive results from live test
Ericsson has helped several operators implement our WCDMA Flow of Users solution in their networks, with impressive results.
One European operator initially trialed the solution at a large outdoor music festival, attended by more than 85,000 people, in the summer of 2014. In order to measure the impact of the WCDMA Flow of Users solution, the event was split into two phases: phase one (Day 1) used the existing operator-specific special event guidelines; phase two (Days 2 and 3) used the new Ericsson WCDMA Flow of Users recommendations. In total about 40 parameters were modified and seven additional features were enabled.
With the new recommendations in place, there was a significant uplift in performance – both from a network and user experience perspective. Accessibility, throughput and uplink interference were all greatly improved.
The success of this trial has led the operator to roll out the Ericsson WCDMA Flow of Users solution throughout its network. Figure 1 illustrates live network results on both network performance and consumer experience that comes with Ericsson WCDMA Flow of Users. We see significant improvements both for voice and data with higher downlink and uplink throughputs and increased data volumes in the network. The gains shown here are real-world average gains from four different networks over three continents.
It is important to notice the increased data volumes that indicate both higher usage and that more users are served. When we consider that the consumer experience has gone up with 40-50% then we start to realize the power of Ericsson’s WCMDA Flow of Users.
Figure 1. Average gains from four different networks over three continents, showing improved network performance and enhanced user experience after implementing the Ericsson WCDMA Flow of Users solution.
The path for operator success
Implementing the Ericsson WCDMA Flow of Users solution is strongly recommended for all operators running a 3G service powered by Ericsson. Customers are advised to follow the principles and recommendations contained in Ericsson customer documentation and upgrade to the most current software release in order to gain access to the most up to date functionality and network enhancements.
The actual implementation of Ericsson WCDMA Flow of Users solution is simplified with Ericsson’s Business Unit Global Services new service Flow of Users.