Need for Smarter Networks: Location Comes to the Aid


Gurol Akman, CTO, Telenity

Earlier in the year 2012, Telenity expanded its Canvas® product portfolio by announcing two new innovative products: Canvas SmartCoverage™ and Canvas SmartOffer™. The first one of these products is intended for mobile network coverage planning, rollout and optimization whereas the second product is intended as a targeted advertisement and subscriber acquisition tool. Almost instantly, Canvas SmartCoverage caught the attention of network planners. Canvas SmartOffer, on the other hand, was of primary interest to marketers. Over the course of the past several months, both products have been subject to a wide variety of network trials to prove their value propositions in reality.

Conventional approaches to network coverage planning typically involve drive tests where vehicles equipped with specialized radio network equipment travel extensively across specified regions of the country, measure signal strengths, make attempts to place voice/data calls, capture related data for off-line analysis and reporting. Alternatively, they rely on retrieving and analyzing event logs from core and radio access networks. At best, the above practices suffer from being tedious, time-consuming, and expensive. More importantly, however, they do not take into account the end-user whatsoever.

Canvas SmartCoverage starts with the assumption that network coverage planning should start with the end-user in mind. Stated in other words, investment in increased coverage is justified if and only if it leads to improved end user experience, for select high-value (VIP) customers. Otherwise, it should be deferred to the extent possible. Subsequently, it makes recommendations about how and where to prioritize network rollout investments to serve better to the needs of target users.

Somewhat similarly, conventional approaches to data subscriber acquisition in 3G and/or 4G/LTE involve non-targeted advertisement to end users with specified handsets, demographics, or consumer profiles. What is not taken into account however is the quality of coverage and data connectivity. As a result, even if the acquisition may take place on paper, there is considerable risk in that the newly acquired users with poor coverage will soon churn out.

“Canvas SmartCoverage achieves its objective by tracking the location of a targeted set of end-users over time, noting their current coverage details in contrast to the current network topology.” Canvas SmartOffer starts with a focus on projected network coverage under the new (to-be-upgraded) network before it considers an end-user of the old network an acquisition target. With that in mind, it relies on the location profiles of candidate end-users. It is not until a candidate is projected to have good coverage under the new network most of the time, Canvas SmartOffer attempts to approach the end user at the right time for acquisition. This way, it largely reduces the churn risk and helps protect the operator brand.

Extensive network trials (conducted in the first half of 2012) at a Tier-1 operator in the APAC region using GMLC-based location determination technology, consistently resulted in superior performance of the smart new techniques/tools over conventional methods, both from network planning perspective and from subscriber acquisition perspective. Further trials are underway at other Tier-1/2 operators to experiment with other network types and position determination technologies. Tighter integration of both products with the operators’ core and radio access networks for further insight into end user activities in real-time remain as overarching goals.

From technology perspective, both Canvas SmartCoverage and Canvas SmartOffer rely on emerging big data technologies including NoSQL, Hadoop, MapReduce algorithms, and built-in caching techniques for scalable, high-performance data storage, mining, and analytics. They take advantage of wide range of position determination technologies and a variety of data sources to paint a complete view. The key concepts employed by both products apply equally well to 3G and 4G/LTE networks. Hence, they are future-proof. The ultimate deployment architecture for both products comprises a cloud-based (SaaS) offering where network operators can submit details of their network topology and end users to obtain recommendations and billed accordingly.

Canvas SmartCoverage and Canvas SmartOffer mark just the beginning of an exciting new era where aggregate and/or subscriber-specific location profiles can be put into subtle use for purposes other than obvious user-centric location-aware applications or largely impersonal location-based advertisement techniques.

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