can help operators monitor and manage the utilization of cell, cell sector, and cell backhaul resources with pinpoint accuracy. In practical terms cell awareness means that the operator, for example, will be able to find out that the recurring congestion on a particular cell uplink is being caused by a voracious BitTorrent user who is downloading several large video files, or a handful of mobile Slingbox users who are tuning into their local sports coverage. One solution would be to implement a fair-use traffic policy limiting all users to 600 Kbps that could be activated at peak hours, or triggered by congestion thresholds, or by subscriber behavior within the cell.
Other examples of leveraging network intelligence include the deployment of tiered and differentiated services. These can range from media caching which enables the provider to effectively monetize internet video by intelligently accelerating its delivery, to network security which intelligently provides real time elimination of network and subscriber originated attacks. Both these services improve the subscriber’s internet experience immeasurably, increase ARPU and reduce customer churn. In addition, offering a range of basic and premium payment packages allows subscribers to feel more in control of their use and retain control of their expenses. It means that the couple who use broadband to access email and periodically browse the internet will not pay the same as the tech-savvy student who downloads music and video files 24/7.
Network Intelligence is Power
Bandwidth is expensive. Investment in infrastructure is the single largest investment that any operator makes, and consequently, it is essential that it is properly utilized. Ensuring the maximum return on investment requires a complete understanding of how the investment is being used, and in the case of bandwidth, how the applications that run over it and the subscribers that use it are behaving.
As we look towards the future it is clear that as fully converged networks steadily take root and become more mainstream, network intelligence will take on an increasingly business-critical role. Networks will typically be characterized by a greater than ever convergence of applications and services, which will offer the subscriber more choice and more control at the same time as making more demands on existing bandwidth. This knowledge will empower operators to make smarter and more cost effective decisions about investments in the network including the roll out of new services, capacity upgrades and more. It is only through network intelligence based on visibility and accurate information that operators will have a clear understanding of what is happening throughout their network, from an application, subscriber and topology perspective, and in turn, will be able to accurately and sufficiently maximize bandwidth to the benefit of the network, the operator and the subscriber.