Service assurance is the systematic process of maintaining and improving the quality of service provided to customers. It ensures that services offered over networks adhere to a pre-defined service quality level for an optimal subscriber experience. It is of paramount importance to conduct an impact analysis, before prioritizing and responding to faults encountered in a quick and effective manner.
Service assurance tools in the spotlight
The service assurance procedure intends to optimize the performance and provide management guidance in communications networks. It includes the following tools and solutions:
- Fault and event management
- Performance management
- Probe monitoring
- Quality of service(QoS) management
- Network and service testing
- Network traffic management
- Customer experience management
- Service level agreement(SLA) monitoring
- Trouble ticket management
Why are they in the spotlight?
The concept of service assurance is an all-encompassing paradigm. It addresses the issue of maximize customer satisfaction, which in turn maximizes the long-term profitability.
The need to differentiate from other players and the introduction of value added services like VoIP, IPTV and mobile video- has increased the reliability on service assurance tools. Hence, the escalating demand by communication service providers and enterprises for providing value-added service over the Internet is increasing, thereby surging the requirement of telecom assurance services.
Assured quality service has no doubt, become a critical success factor in the telecom sector. Incidentally, other factors in achieving the business goals such as lowering down the operational and capital expenditure, enhancing revenue and retaining customers gets affected too in this process.
What Service Assurance means to a customer:
Telecom service assurance helps to enhance the customer’s experience by maintaining and improving the quality of service. Service assurance is assessed on the following parameters:
- Strong accessibility and reach
- Smooth network coverage
- Geographical reach
- 24X7 availability
- Resource availability- service assistance
- Multilingual approach
- Reliability and consistency in service
- Ability to make and receive calls whenever he wants
- No call drop
- Sound clarity
What do these help to achieve?
Service assurance involves components such as quality assurance (QA), quality control (QC) and service level management (SLM). Quality assurance ascertains that a product or service under development meets specified requirements at all stages in the process. Quality control ensures that a completed and performed service sticks to a defined set of quality criteria or meets the requirements of the customer. Service level management takes care of the monitoring and management of the quality of the key performance indicators (KPIs) of the product or the service.
Service assurance equips telecom operators with tools to identify and communicate with customers affected by network faults and planned maintenance. The benefits offered include:
- Service Assurance Intelligence
Trouble-shooting and root cause analysis are fundamentals of service assurance. Service providers put in place these service assurance systems to achieve automation and get real-time visibility in ensuring the health of their services. Also to provide agreater transparency and customer support, operators need to improve the productivity and functionality that is leveraged by service assurance systems.
- Real-time Service Analytics
Traditional alarm and performance monitoring systems were delaying the process of assurance. Hence, service assurance systems of today are robust and provide real-time analytics capabilities. This, in turn helps to sift through the data and interpret hierarchical performance trends, enabling operators to identify potential service impacts or capacity issues before they hit the market and improve customer experience.
- Deployment of New Networks and Differentiated Services
Service assurance tools provide valuable input for making key network decisions.They assist in determining where to invest by providing service providers an accurate and real-time performance data and capacity analytics, with which they optimize the network spending. A modern service assurance system provides real-time actionable intelligence that helps in making wise decisions, based on network usage, traffic, capacity, and performance by location. As new differentiated services or new networks are deployed, service assurance tools enable the service provider to monitor them quickly without any delay.
- Impact Analysis for unplanned and planned service disruption
It becomes an intense pressure situation for network operation centers as and when large numbers of faults are reported. The situation needs a root cause analysis that can refine those thousands of alarms only to identify the underlying problems. After that is taken care of, the next step is to prioritize the faults that need immediate attention and thereon and what workarounds exist regarding each of them. Impact analysis is based on a thorough and accurate knowledge of network topology. Whereas planned maintenance insists upon minimizing the downtime and take account of standby servers and redundant routes. It is based on sound understanding of the network capabilities and careful consideration of fault tolerance that even allow some of the maintenance activities to be automated.
- Detecting correlation between customer issues and network faults
Correlation between internal network faults and customers who are affected helps in identifying those ‘high- priority’ clients and customers that need immediate attention. Often, it is difficult to link customer complaints with the underlying network faults. But since the arrival of service assurance tools and implementation of laws like commercial SLAs (Service Level Agreements) are in place, prioritization and tracking of faults can be achieved. It helps from a competitive advantage point of view too, when the service provider keeps customers well informed and prioritizes dealing their faults. Additionally, it reduces the loss suffered in commercial outage.
How will their scope increase in the future?
The telecom service assurance market is estimated to be $4.59 Billion by 2019. It is true that opportunities exist across a diverse spectrum of assurance and test solutions. The following ways in which service assurance will be most handy to service providers are:
- the rise of application performance management
- Deep packet inspection and complex network services
- Device management is will skyrocket.
The main purpose of service assurance tools is to enhance the pro-activeness capabilities of customer service. The tools allow an early detection of network problems and ensure service providers are able to predict and calculate service impact, even on complex network topologies. Aggressiveness and quick resolution of faults in fault management systems are in particular, the need of the hour of the telecom industry.