Quality of Experience (QoE) and Quality of Service (QoS) are at the forefront of every communication service provider’s (CSP) efforts to build a loyal subscriber base. Dropped calls, poor audio quality, and buffered video are key impediments to establishing preference among customers and competitive advantage over other providers. Similarly, quality issues can interfere with a CSP’s ability to fulfill its lawful intelligence mission to hand over authorized, high-quality data to law enforcement agencies (LEAs) as quickly as possible.
Best practices therefore call for CSPs to meet or exceed industry guidelines for QoE and QoS to safeguard operations against both competitive and regulatory pressures. While adhering to new or changing specifications is optional, CSPs are practically compelled to do so – not only to deliver the experience and service that creates customer loyalty, but to enable lawful intelligence platforms to deliver the quality, real-time data that helps LEAs save lives. Working with standards bodies such as 3GPP, IETF, and ETSI, SS8 supports robust QoE and QoS mandates – such as the recently released ETSI GS F5G 005 – and is committed to delivering compliant, interoperable lawful intelligence platforms for CSPs and LEAs.
Specifying and Measuring QoE
While the terms QoE and QoS are often used interchangeably, the distinction between the two is important. QoS is based on quantitative measurements of network, service, and application performance, while QoE is a subjective measure of performance based on human perception and opinion. The former is the more data-driven of these approaches and already uses established metrics such as Mean Opinion Score, the latter the more directly relevant to customer preference and loyalty. The challenge, therefore, of gauging and optimizing customer satisfaction is producing a meaningful, deterministic measure of QoE.
The ETSI GS F5G 005 specification studies end-to-end QoE for subscriber services delivered over broadband. It posits an approach for assessing QoE using objective QoS metrics, effectively giving CSPs a proxy to measure customer satisfaction. These metrics are expressed as measurable key quality indicators (KQIs) on the application level and within different segments of the network.
Performance, operability, availability, and ease of use can thereby be optimized for subscribers to network services and applications. Equally important, the new standard specifies mechanisms to measure and improve those KQIs, allowing them to evolve with changing demands and setting the stage for analytics that can progressively improve how well customer needs are being met.
QoE Evolution in the Broader Context of Change
As CSPs implement changes to fulfill QoE and QoS goals (e.g., implementation of 5GC network slicing), well-established advantages in cost and scalability have created a broad-based migration of operations to cloud infrastructures. The sheer expense of server farms is causing a similar transition among LEAs. Yet leveraging the cloud in pursuit of greater throughput and less latency means larger, more heterogenous data packets. When compared to older network models based on circuit-switched signaling over fixed lines, it is therefore more difficult to identify voice traffic, for example.
At the network level, prioritizing critical, real-time traffic such as voice and video ensures QoE and QoS, minimizing packet loss, hop count, latency, and jitter while avoiding the corresponding application-level effects such as video frame loss, frame freezing, or image distortion. To deliver clear, real-time voice, CSPs must abide by Service Level Agreements drafted in conjunction with regulatory agencies that specify KQIs for such services. Otherwise, they risk losing not only their competitive advantage, but their ability to deliver timely, complete intercept data to the mediation function. Likewise, the LEA network must be interoperable with CSP components, meaning it must adhere to similar KQIs.
For lawful intelligence platforms to succeed in an environment of multiple public and private clouds – especially end-to-end solutions that operate across, and depend upon, both CSP and LEA environments – it is critical that all parties meet and exceed QoE KQIs. Only then can the platform itself, which exists in the application layer of the network topology, be analyzed against its own KPIs and standards, such as video clarity.
Without robust underlying QoEs, the use of a cloud-based infrastructure can severely impact the quality of intercepted calls the intelligence solution can handover to law enforcement. For example, when a mobile phone switches from a 4G to a 5G network, a weak RAN connection to the end user can result in degraded, unusable intelligence.
SS8 builds on decades of experience working with standards entities, telecom solution providers, CSPs, and LEAs to draft and implement QoE and QoS requirements in keeping with emerging specifications for modern, distributed networks. Our platform is in turn optimized for these forward-looking standards to support end-to-end lawful intelligence operations that keep pace with the speed and volume of communications data today while also allowing accurate evaluation and optimization. SS8 even helps LEAs structure warrants that focus on the highest-value information, an important consideration in an age of high-bandwidth content that can quickly overwhelm LEA analysts.
In an industry focused on delivering five nines availability (99.999%) from packet-switched, container-based networks, SS8 provides cutting-edge lawful intelligence solutions engineered to deliver high-quality intelligence in real time.
About Lynn Herrick
Lynn is an experienced technical solutions architect with 20+ years of pre/post-sales support experience. He has proven consulting expertise working with carrier’s as they migrate voice and data application solutions (VAS- Value Added Services) from 3G, 4G and 5G mobile networks in accordance with the ever-evolving standard bodies e.g., ETSI, 3GPP and IETF; as core networks move from circuit switch, packet switched and the 5GC CUPs architecture.
Lynn is very enthusiastic about introducing next generation solutions and services to network operators as they move to implementing their own standardized private/public cloud solutions to driving business growth and ARPU. Lynn has an in-depth knowledge involved in implementing application solutions into a carrier’s virtualized environments as either a VNF or CNF. You can learn more about Lynn here.
About SS8 Networks
SS8, a network intelligence company, provides solutions to help customers quickly identify, track, and investigate devices and subjects of interest. SS8 is trusted by six of the largest intelligence agencies, eight of the fourteen largest communications providers and five of the largest systems integrators.