Mobile service providers will increasingly seek to combine Wi-Fi and 4G cellular networks to optimise their customer’s experience, to minimise infrastructure costs and to enable new services and sources of revenue. In order to do so, however, they need to have real-time visibility over of network and device conditions, together with intelligent analytics that can be used for “vertical” departmental applications such as marketing, customer support and service planning.
At Birdstep we have developed two products, SmartANDSF and EasyAnalytics, which meet these objectives. Together they optimise routing of data between Wi-Fi and cellular to suit a range of business and policy objectives, including response to congestion over the 4G network, right down to tuning a specific application for a single customer. As well as being able to report and respond to each individual customer’s quality of service, we also enable content level decisions to be made in real-time; for example to trigger ads or a promotion and in turn to create a new revenue stream.
SmartANDSF is built around the 3GPP’s ANDSF (Access Network Discovery and Selection Function), a standard of fast-growing importance for heterogeneous network operation that enables 4G client devices to locate Wi-Fi or other non-cellular access networks. Combined with SIM-based authentication technologies, ANDSF is a key ingredient for creating large-scale heterogeneous networks.
Above all the ability to manage the whole heterogeneous environment as a single entity will be crucial for success.
Birdstep’s, EasyAnalytics, then comes into play by enabling operators to measure the effectiveness of different policies and so tune them to further improve overall network performance or cut costs. Like SmartANDSF, EasyAnalytics refines and improves on processes that are already being deployed elsewhere. In this case, homing in on BigData to provide deeper insights into both network performance and customer experience. Big Data means data collected from a large number of often, uncoordinated streams or sources and has tended so far to be used for identifying over-arching trends and events from a large number of systems; the data itself is then usually ditched and unavailable for further analysis.
Birdstep has turned all this on its head by transforming data into intelligence and creating reports that can serve different departments or applications immediately, while retaining the information for future use. Flexibility for operators to access detailed reports comprising information specific to each department will, we believe, be essential in the emerging heterogeneous network era.
Above all the ability to manage the whole heterogeneous environment as a single entity will be crucial for success. It will also be important to understand how the availability and extent of offload affects customer behaviour and consumption of revenue generating services.