June 3, 2024

Re-imagining Roaming QoS with Quality Operations Centre

Rocco Genesis 2024 – Cellusys team “The Time Travellers”

Following our success in the 2023 iteration of the Rocco Hackathons, where we took home the gold in both the roaming and messaging competitions, we were eagerly awaiting the return of the competition in 2024. The hackathon format encourages quick thinking, creativity, ambition and innovation. These traits are parts of the DNA in Cellusys, making this competition a particular favourite of ours.

This year we decided to focus only on the roaming challenge to make sure we could put all of our efforts into developing the best possible solution. We were forced to explore new concepts and learn many new things, and were delighted with the end-product – and even more delighted with the positive response the solution received from the judges and audience at Rocco Genesis, with the solution taking first place once again.

The 2024 Roaming Challenge: Maximizing Quality with Limited Resources

Alain Barbier from Orange France proposed the challenge, focused on roaming quality. It posed the question – “How to cater for the growing demands of Roaming QoS with limited resources?”. This was a topic of great interest to us. There are a number of factors that drive this. We see this in interactions with the majority of our customers:

  • Complexity is rising: We have new technologies like 5G coming, we have a proliferation of VoLTE. At the same time, we still have to handle legacy technologies and protocols.
  • The demand for quality is growing. Enterprise and IoT customers are particularly quality-driven. However, quality means different things to different customers. This adds complexity to trying to manage quality – what does quality mean to each customer? How good is good enough?
  • Resources are reducing. Although there is now far more complexity in managing roaming, the resources to manage it are ever-reducing. We must find a new approach.

Drawing Inspiration from the Future

We named the the Cellusys Hackathon team “The Time Travellers”. The origin of this name came from the inspiration we took for the solution. We looked to the future and borrowed ideas from it to develop our Quality Operations Centre. The key future concept we centred on was 5G Network Slicing – in particular the following concepts:

  • Customers requesting the quality they want, in terms they understand. In 5G they do this via a Network Slice Template (NEST). This is where they specify KPIs that matter to them like service availability, download speed, upload speed etc. In 5G, we must create a dedicated slice that can meet these needs.
  • Monitoring the quality achieved. Part of this involves gathering data from the Roaming Partner network through the Network Exposure Function (NEF)

Applying Future Concepts to Today’s Roaming Challenges

These are interesting concepts, but we recognise that the industry is not quite there yet with these 5G capabilities. Moreover, introducing roaming also takes some of the slicing control out of the hands of the home network. That being said, we considered how we could apply these concepts today. We thought about how we could use some of these ideas to practically solve the roaming challenges of today.

Empowering Customers to Define Quality

  • Allowing customers to specify quality in their terms – in terms of KPIs that matter to them, that they understand
    • Remove the roaming team needing to guess what quality the variety of their subscribers need. Enable the customers to tell us what matters to them

Enhancing Roaming with APIs and Automation

  • Analytics in the home network monitoring the achievement of KPIs in each network.
    • These solutions that we deploy in the modern day provide insight into what kind of quality each network attains.
    • Unfortunately, some visibility is only available on the visited network. The roaming team in the home network is blind to this. Getting information from another network is manual, slow and frustrating. Borrowing from the NEF concept, we proposed exposing APIs between networks. For instance, this would allow them to independently troubleshoot and gather data about their own subscribers roaming in another network. With this added in, we can obtain a complete picture and get a better idea of quality in greater detail.
  • Automatically resolving quality issues that analytics and API detect
    • In roaming, multiple networks are likely available in the visited country, each meeting different KPIs. We could view each of these networks as an available slice. By correlating what the customer requests in terms of quality with the quality observed, the system can automatically resolve issues. For example, they steer any subscribers that don’t reach the desired quality to another network (or “slice”)
Quality Operations Centre

Efficiency Through Reusable Systems and Automation

One of the nice things about the solution is that it is accessible. It focuses on re-use – re-use your steering system to control where the subscriber roams. Re-use your analytics system, and connect this to your steering system by API for automatic issue resolution. Where we need new capabilities, these are relatively simple. We can add APIs to allow your customers to specify the quality they want. In addition, they can gather more data about your roamers from your roaming partner.

These concepts are largely inspired by 5G. Because of this, we would argue that we need not wait. We can apply these modern ideas to solve the growing roaming challenges we face. Additionally, we can manage the growing demand for quality. This is what we intend to achieve with the Quality Operations Centre. This provides many benefits, including:

  • Resolve automatic issues – fix issues before the customer complains
  • Save valuable roaming team resources – use these to work on something valuable, not fire-fighting issues
  • Enable quality focus – give enterprises direct control and visibility, without proxying through a middle-man

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June 3, 2024