Impact of corona crisis on network performance

Introduction

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted social and business interactions in almost all walks of life. People have needed to adapt to changing environmental conditions and restrictions and as a result, remote working has become the standard in many industries. The remote working has increased the importance of staying connected everywhere. Furthermore, the time and location where people need connectivity may be different compared to before the pandemic.

Over the years, operators have built capacity in areas where the demand is high. Although operators may have plenty of spectrum available, all of it is not deployed in the entire networks due to the high cost involved. Different spectrum bands require different hardware components, and therefore, in many cases, the deployment of additional capacity requires installation of hardware to base station sites, i.e. towers and rooftop sites.

Pre-restrictions

stable network traffic profile

Post-restrictions

traffic shifts from business areas to residential areas

Operator challenge

Due to implemented social distancing measures, the traffic demand has somewhat increased as typical face-to-face interactions are replaced by remote communication and for example entertainment content consumption is increasing. Even more importantly, the traffic has shifted away from typical traffic hot spots, such as business districts and is very much centred around people’s residences.

In many cases, residential areas where people are now working remotely are equipped with enough coverage and capacity because the demand has existed in these areas due to residential use during the evening peaks. However, some locations are simply not prepared for the surge in traffic caused by the demand from remote working and home education in addition to the increased entertainment demand. The increased traffic demand in certain areas result in capacity shortages and need for optimisation to mitigate the degradation of the customer experience

Solution options

To increase capacity of the networks to handle increased demand, operators typically need to invest in new hardware and the installation work. However, with the restrictions in place during the pandemic, the delivery and installation lead times may be longer due to the exceptional circumstances. Furthermore, operators need to assess whether an investment is warranted in the long term, or whether the temporary quality degradation is acceptable.

Improvements can also be achieved relatively quickly through remote network optimisation actions or software-upgrade-based capacity additions. The cost involved is typically much lower, and even more importantly, the lead time to deployment is significantly shorter than with hardware-based expansions.

Key steps in mitigating the impact on user experience

  • Identify the affected areas.
  • Identify the root cause of quality degradation.
  • Identify options for mitigating the quality degradation.
  • Compare the alternatives in terms of expected impact, cost and lead time.
  • Select and implement the fix.

Omnitele support

Omnitele has supported its customers in identifying areas where actions need to be taken due to the traffic shift resulting from Covid-19 measures. Furthermore, Omnitele has long been using predictive diagnostics methodologies to improve the effectiveness of network optimisation actions and investments.

The approach taken by Omnitele is to predict how different network actions will impact the customer experience. The fundamental idea is to quantify what can be expected from different actions and then selecting the actions that are most cost effective and fastest to implement.

Jani Nieminen

+358 44 9947968

jani.nieminen@omnitele.com

Jani Nieminen

+358 44 9947968

jani.nieminen@omnitele.com