The Top 5 Causes of Network Outages

As  mobile voice and data services have become a communication necessity for business and private purposes,  network outages will continue to be a serious problem for telco operators. A Heavy Reading report from a few years ago suggested that network outages in the telco domain seemed to be getting both longer and more frequent, with a rise in the volume of outages that exceeded 48 hours.

Though network conditions, and the networks themselves, have changed since then (it was still relatively early in the transition of IP replacing other protocols for real-time services), the possibility of an outage is still top of mind for most operators. After all, outages can do serious damage to your corporate reputation and result in subscriber churn and revenue losses.

At SEGRON, we believe that the first step to preventing network outages is understanding their primary root causes. The second step… well, that depends on which cause was actually responsible for the outage in the first place.

1. Overloaded Networks

In the report we mentioned above, congestion and overloaded networks were listed as the top causes of outages. On one hand, the timing of this report means that part of what we were seeing several years ago was networks grappling with the shift away from mostly voice and SMS traffic to increasingly diverse network traffic that emphasized low-latency mobile data and VoLTE usage.

On the other hand, the industry is currently entering a new era of transition from 4G/LTE to 5G. You can now expect another sustained increase in network traffic, this time from the internet of things (IoT). As 5G powers an increasing volume of low-latency network connections going forward, load testing will be more crucial than ever for telco testers.

In order to ascertain whether your network can actually hold up during periods of congestion, you’ll have to find practicable ways to stress test the network itself. This will require automation frameworks that are capable of leveraging entire networks of connected devices at the push of a button.

2. New Services

While network congestion was cited as the most frequent cause of outages, network issues were the leading culprits when it came to serious and severe outages. These issues can take any number of forms, but some of the most common were outages related to new service offerings.

Again, this is something that the 5G era is likely to see a lot of, for example:

You’re upgrading your network so that subscribers can access 5G data speeds when streaming video, but something goes awry with    the implementation and the network crashes.

 You’re updating your roaming partnerships and the new interconnections cause issues that you didn’t anticipate.

The traditional bulwark against this kind of issue is extensive regression testing, but that can be time-consuming and slow down time-to-market, which companies are often hesitant to do. The trick here is finding a way to speed up regression testing to improve test coverage without impacting time-to-market.