Access rate is fundamental to the data service experience, with more and more telcos listing it as one of their most important goals for network construction. But during the construction process itself, regional xMbps goals can actually cut costs and strike a balance between network experience and overall investment.
User experience: The key to telco success
According to Google statistics, a 0.4-second delay in network response will decrease search volume by eight million, with Amazon statistics similar. For online shopping, a one-second delay will reduce online sales by USD160 million per year. A Huawei mLAB survey has found poor service experience, stemming primarily from low data rates, to be a major customer complaint; 80% of users switch networks because of poor experience, while 72% stick with the same network due to the opposite.
Data service experience also holds direct sway over subscriber loyalty, attraction of new subscribers, and ultimately, carrier revenue. This fact is becoming an increasing concern for telcos. At Huawei's 2014 User Conference, 89% of carriers considered service quality and user experience consistency to be key challenges, with 96% believing improved coverage and access rate essential to resolving customer pain points. Huawei has designed an innovative network planning approach to address this.
Roughly 50% of carriers surveyed at Huawei's Wireless User Conference rated network speed as the single most important network construction benchmark. Vodafone announced anywhere-anytime 1Mbps as its network construction goal in 2011. China Unicom has done likewise, and now includes this in the guidelines for its various branches.
When setting target rates, one should note that there is a huge demand for high-rate services in urban areas, and an equally huge demand for low-rate services in rural areas. This makes regional xMbps goals a reasonable compromise that balances cost, experience and resources, through precision investment.
Network planning based on user rate perception involves three phases – business insight, network capability evaluation, and strategic solution design.
- Business insight refers to the analysis of experience requirements for current users and setting regional xMbps goals based on future business development and competitor status. Huawei classifies target areas as important, value, or general, based on traffic and distribution of customers and terminals. Then we identify the mainstream services for a particular area and set specific bitrate goals for it. For areas where web browsing and SD video streaming are mainstream, 1Mbps would be the appropriate goal. For areas HD resolution or beyond is the norm, 5Mbps or even 10Mbps should be considered.
- Network capability evaluation involves both determining bitrates and what ails them in certain areas. Evaluation encompasses coverage, interference, resource utilization, network load, and user number. Currently, xMbps-targeted network planning supports 50m × 50m grid-level granularity, enabling timely root-cause identification and paving the way for effective solution selection.
- Strategic solution design is meant to bridge the gap between customer requirement and actual performance, both now and in the future, and this is a complex, iterative process.
In terms of network coverage, strategic solutions for xMbps at cell edges include site addition, antenna adjustment, lower frequency bands, and new feature activation. Reasonable intersite distances are critical to guaranteeing xMbps integrity. In Huawei's experiences, typical intersite distances for high-frequency bands such as UMTS2100 (5MHz, 1Mbps) and LTE1800 (20MHz, 5Mbps) are similar to those for GSM1800 voice and the distances for low frequency bands such as UMTS900 (5MHz, 1Mbps) and LTE800 (20MHz, 5Mbps) are similar to those for GFSM900 voice.
For network capacity, solutions include carrier addition, multi-sector deployment, capacity supplements (such as small cells), GUL bearing policy adjustment, and new feature activation. For multi-sector, site capacity can be boosted by 50 to 85%, with coverage enhanced by 3dB, all without new sites or spectrum. For supplementation, solutions such as Huawei's LampSite can be quite efficacious. This solution currently serves Beijing Airport, providing 50Mbps downlink at every point within its walls.
Benefits of xMbps-targeted network planning
Compared with traditional network construction, xMbps-targeted network planning has three advantages:
User experience consistency:User requirement insights, target rate design, and wireless capability evaluation all depend on massive amounts of user perception data. Compared with traditional drive tests or customer complaint analysis, this method takes longer and is more comprehensive, as it involves the real experiences of current users.
Accurate investment:In the mobile Internet era, user requirement differences are no longer confined to urban versus rural; they can also involve different areas of a city, or even different corners of a street. Network planning based on user perception is more accurate and targeted in that it can reflect even the finest nuances of user requirements, target rates, and network capabilities in different areas. This ensures that finite telco resources go only to what is needed most, therefore maximizing ROI.
Higher efficiency:Don’t let the laboriousness involved in achieving the previous two advantages scare you off. Huawei xMbps is based on our automated cloud network evaluation platform, which supports one-click data collection, high-speed data processing, and automated site planning. These features greatly reduce the time spent on data collection/analysis and initial planning, enough to actually cut the network planning cycle in half.
Case study: Western Europe
This solution was recently deployed in a certain Western European market in a scenario that involved both UMTS and LTE, having already stood out clearly amongst competing solutions. Through accurate UMTS site addition and carrier expansion, Huawei completed UMTS optimization and performance enhancement in one city, and carried out xMbps-targeted LTE planning through user experience-based simulation and forecast. This work drew praise from the carrier’s network planning department, which invited Huawei to carry out further network planning for the remaining 31 areas of the city.