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How To: Continuous Service Monitoring for MVNOs

Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) often face criticism for service quality: a market research report shows that their download speeds across the U.S. are 23% slower on average than those of their host networks (MNOs). While they can reach the same peak speeds, they do so less consistently, resulting in lower quality scores for minimum speeds, jitter, latency, and packet loss.

This inconsistency occurs because MNOs prioritize their own traffic. However, it’s possible to provide consistent service. 

Effective service monitoring is key to maintaining high service quality and customer retention for MVNOs. A robust service verification workflow ensures that networks meet quality and performance standards, providing a competitive user experience.

This guide presents an approach to service monitoring, giving you the tools to ensure high customer service quality.

How MVNO Works

MVNOs purchase excess network capacity from traditional Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in bulk and resell it to end-users. They typically leverage the spectrum bands and base stations of their host network but handle the SIM cards for users’ handsets themselves, usually offering prepaid wireless subscriptions to their customers. Since MVNOs do not maintain most of the actual network equipment, their business model incurs less overhead than the average MNO.

The MVNO depends on the service availability and quality provided by the MNO, often defined in service level agreements (SLAs). The correct functionality of the basic network elements is usually the responsibility of the host network, allowing the MVNO to focus specifically on the end-user experience.

Challenges in MVNO Service Availability ​

Recent technologies like VoLTE and 5G present new challenges for MVNOs. They must ensure they are not left behind when it comes to offering the latest technology, which provides better service quality, such as higher data rates and improved speech quality due to HD Voice Codec. The significant increase in data volume necessitates effective management.

Key challenges include:

  • Infrastructure Challenges: 5G necessitates substantial changes for MVNOs, as its integration and operation differ from 3G or 4G. To fully capitalize on 5G and network slicing opportunities, MVNOs must develop a new business model and infrastructure. They need to install their virtual network functions as 5G MVNOs, enabling customers to access new applications and services through a 5G network slice.
  • MNO Dependency: MVNO services rely heavily on MNOs. Access to cutting-edge technology is contingent on MNOs introducing it. MVNOs need the latest 5G technology access from MNOs to stay competitive.
  • Compatibility with Mobile Phones: When introducing new services like VoLTE or 5G, MVNOs must ensure compatibility with both existing and new devices. Initially, comprehensive network coverage for new services might not be available, and customers must still be able to use the services under various conditions.

Keys to Effective Service Monitoring​

The above challenges make MVNO service availability an exceptional use case. Regular checks are essential, especially when there are changes in the MVNO or host network. Given that MVNOs might not have visibility into their host network’s schedule for updates and changes, automated continuous service monitoring is critical for maintaining high service quality.

SEGRON’s solution facilitates continuous monitoring of essential KPIs within the network and swiftly delivers necessary data to the host operator in case of deviations or service restrictions. Error and root cause analyses are supported by innovative solutions, using trace data from radio interfaces for failure evaluation and reporting.

Key service KPIs include:​

  • Access: Radio KPIs, Success Rates, Network Registration Timestamps
  • Voice: Call Setup Time, Received CLI, Call State, 4G return time (CSFB)
  • Data: DL & UL throughput, File Size, DL duration, RTT/ping, Jitter, Packet Loss, APN
  • Messaging: End-to-end delivery time, SMS State, Success Rate

Additionally, service monitoring test cases can be used for revenue assurance, examining call data records (CDRs) and verifying them against CRM data, as well as testing the entire billing process. This ensures that users are not surprised by false bills or unexplained service outages.

By automating these tests, MVNOs can efficiently and regularly check service quality without additional resources, exceeding customer expectations and reducing churn.

Frequently asked questions​

What are the challenges regarding MVNO service availability?
  • Infrastructure Challenges: MVNOs need to upgrade their infrastructure to support new technologies like 5G, which require different integration and operation compared to 3G or 4G.
  • MNO Dependency: MVNOs rely on host MNOs for access to the latest technologies. If MNOs don’t provide timely access to these technologies, MVNOs risk falling behind.
  • Compatibility with Mobile Phones: Ensuring new services like VoLTE or 5G are compatible with existing and new devices can be challenging, especially when comprehensive network coverage isn’t yet available.
  • Effective Service Monitoring: Continuously monitoring service quality helps maintain high standards and promptly address any issues, ensuring a reliable user experience.
  • Automated Tests: Regular, automated testing of service quality without extra resource investment helps exceed customer expectations and reduce churn.
  • Revenue Assurance: Using service monitoring data to verify billing accuracy and avoid false charges helps maintain customer trust.

Automated Continuous Service Monitoring: This allows for regular checks on service quality and quick responses to any deviations or restrictions. It ensures that MVNOs maintain high service standards and performance.

  • Access: Radio KPIs, success rates, network registration timestamps.
  • Voice: Call setup time, received CLI, call state, 4G return time (CSFB).
  • Data: DL & UL throughput, file size, DL duration, RTT/ping, jitter, packet loss, APN.
  • Messaging: End-to-end delivery time, SMS state, success rate.
  • Definition: An MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) buys excess network capacity from traditional Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in bulk and resells it to end-users.
  • Differences: Unlike traditional networks, MVNOs don’t maintain most of the network equipment. They leverage the host network’s spectrum bands and base stations but handle the SIM cards and usually offer prepaid wireless subscriptions. This business model results in less overhead for MVNOs compared to MNOs.
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