By: Stephane Bourque
It’s the gold medal race, the one you’ve been waiting for all day. You and your workmates huddle around the screen, anticipation building as you wait for the start. All eyes are on the favorite, your country’s rising star and the hope of the nation.
Suddenly, the race begins — and the young favorite breaks ahead! It’s close though, and will come down to the final seconds… but without warning, your feed starts buffering. It’s not getting any faster, and there’s nothing you can do. Before you know it, the race is over, and you have no idea who won (until you check your Twitter feed on your phone).
Needless to say, you’re not a happy subscriber.
Quality of service (QoS) is important at any time of year, but during major events like the Summer Olympics, disruptions and outages can have drastic consequences. It goes beyond upsetting sports fans — any customer who may have already had negative feelings towards your brand could become even more disengaged if the one event they have been looking forward to is disrupted.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of opportunities for mistakes. A large-scale event like the Olympics attracts an audience like no other, with 3.6 billion spectators expected to tune in this year. What can service providers do to guarantee QoS during major events?
At least one major North American provider placed a “blackout period” on any kind of server interruption between August 5 and 21 — no hardware or software installs, no updates, absolutely nothing that could increase the potential for outages or an interruption to customer viewing.
This is one course of action, but what other preparations should be considered? Service providers should consider:
- Network capacity planning based on trends from past events, subscriber growth, and future forecasts
- A complete BSS/OSS platform to troubleshoot end-to-end network connectivity and performance
- A device management solution that offers insight into the customer premises network to identify QoS issues related to WiFi
Clearly, prevention is the best defence. Major events like the Olympics include more WiFi-based, multi-screen viewing, and over-the-top (OTT) video streaming, which can significantly affect subscriber QoS across the network. Collecting data during these events is essential to understand where network bandwidth congestion occurs, where node splits and infrastructure upgrades may be required, and how you can prevent QoS issues.
Data not only aids future forecasting, but can also help your marketing and sales teams understand the relative success or failure of new initiatives or promotions related to limited time speed boosts or data increases, TV Everywhere initiatives, or other limited time service offerings. Collecting enough data during major events can assist with future monetization plans, for example, help you understand how usage-based billing or other fair access measures could perform on your network.
If QoS issues arise, it’s essential to have insight into the customer premises network to enhance subscriber quality of experience. Even if the issue is related to the subscriber’s home WiFi network setup, signal blockage, or interference from neighboring channels or cell towers, it’s likely that the subscriber will blame you, the service provider, if their live feed is interrupted in any way. It’s therefore up to you to optimize service quality. Solutions based on the Broadband Forum’s TR-069 protocol offer visibility into the customer premises network, enabling streamlined troubleshooting and an easier way to detect, diagnose, and correct WiFi problems without initiating multiple phone calls or truck rolls.
Armed with the right data, policies, and device monitoring solutions, you can ensure an even better viewer experience in at the next Olympics or major event.