A new way to measure network customer experience

Teragence hopes to expose the real mobile network customer experience. Without touching the network.

A UK start-up aims to change the way the network customer experience is measured and benchmarked.

The company, Teragence, is bringing to market an innovative network customer experience methodology that requires no drive testing, probes or other intrusion on the network, and is intended to present a picture of the actual consumer experience by matching observed network performance to the requirements of a specific application.

Here’s how it works: a very light applet is installed on a user’s phone. The applet can be embedded within another app that is often open on the device. A web server sends a test stream of test data to the app on the device in question – for example polling the app every five minutes. The device then reports back on the characteristics of the network – packet loss and delay – that it received. That data is then matched against a library of what Teragence terms application network sensitivity profiles. These sensitivity profiles are like fingerprints of an app’s sensitivity to network performance parameters. Finally, a report is raised that scores network performance per app. So in other words an operator can learn if it is actually delivering the required experience for a gaming app, or video stream, or VoIP, and so on.

Christian Rouffaert, CEO, Teragence, told TMN, “It really goes beyond bandwidth to give a view on the quality of the bandwidth, measured through loss and delay characteristics. So we can monitor the state of the network from the outside-in and say how this network performs per app.”

Companies that buy Teragence’s service can see how the network is performing in various slices of data: by location, per application, or benchmark against other providers.

Teragence’s founders claim that this methodology can provide a picture of real network performance benchmarked against specific sets of applications, without the need for DPI, probes, and the usual architecture of application visibility and network performance.

Rouffaert said the company currently has an agreement to install its applet inside a consumer survey application, giving access to 1000 devices in the field. He added that the company has also been in discussion with several operators to trial its service. For a start-up, one of Teragence’s advantages is that it is not asking to “touch” the operator’s network, and Rouffaert said that the application data would be most useful to someone with a strategic level view within the operator, perhaps with responsibility for a Customer Experience programme.

The product could of course also be used by application-oriented players (e.g. cloud service providers, OTT players) to gain a view of third party network performance.

The testing methodology was developed with the support of researchers from Queen Mary University in London, under the direction of Dr John Schormans. The company was recently voted most innovative start-up at the Innovation Accelerator track at the recent LTE World Summit.