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Some-Effort Telecoms

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As I live 51.2 kilometers west from our office in Helsinki, I usually spend the 42 minute commute on the phone (my handsfree set is integrated to 5.1 audio, quality is fairly good). In addition, my car has its own 3G subscription, attached to the car’s OBD2/CAN bus, connecting it to our Platform.

When I start my trip from home, both GSM subscriptions offer me HSDPA, (3.7G) connectivity. Audio quality is acceptable (enhanced full rate). However, after leaving my xDSL WiFi I’m presented with highly variable IP performance with packet delays ranging from 20 to 800 milliseconds and 1-2% constant packet loss.

After leaving the rural 81 meter tall cell tower, having driven 11km, the IP situation gets better with 20..60ms delays and smaller packet loss. However, at 15km the call loses audio for about 10 seconds while both IP connections are disrupted. But the call is not disconnected, and IP quickly reestablishes too. 

At 23km my call is disconnected, with nasty error tone and â€™network error’ message. The car subscription lost its connectivity a kilometer earlier. Redialing gives ‘network error’ and ‘network busy’ four times, until at 25km I’m able to reestablish the call. This 2km stretch is close to Kirkkonummi, with darkest colors in the provider’s coverage map. Supposedly LTE here too. Before reaching the office, my calls and IP connectivity are disrupted twice more, now already within metropolitan Helsinki.

What worries me is that the mobile network quality, on this area and in general, has actually degraded during the last seven years. Yes there are new services and mobile apps, but the underlying capability of supporting a connected environment is weakening.

Spimes and the Internet of Things need increasingly reliable communications. This is why the paradigms of (mobile) network management must be drastically updated, from operate-to-fail to predictive maintenance and development, already commonplace in traditional industries.

The best way is to follow the money – each call, base station, router or fiber link must be linked to actual revenue generation, so that a broken call or missing IP connectivity is made visible in real time, in money – be that engineering bonuses or missed customer revenue. This is very doable with holistic data collection and real time analysis. After a while, the CFO is the new NOC manager. Which is good.

//Pasi

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