Exclusive Interviews

With geolocation, mobile operators can find, determine and provide the exact location of a mobile phone (user) on their network. Geolocation is used in a variety of applications like troubleshooting and analytics, and opens up a whole range of possibilities for data monetization. In an interview with Telecom Review, Vicent Soler, EVP CTO Spain - Advanced RAN Studies, Astellia, talked about the importance of geolocation and its benefits.

Can you provide some concrete use cases of how network engineers can benefit from geolocation?
With geolocation, operators can have massive coverage maps and thereby it becomes much easier to identify any area with coverage holes, congestion or dropped calls. This allows network engineers to become much more efficient because they can focus network deployment and troubleshooting activities on these specific areas. Subsequently, this will have a concrete and positive impact on the subscriber experience.

Another relevant benefit of geolocation information for network engineers is that it helps accelerate the introduction of new technologies. It can help them, for instance, to identify where there is a high concentration of VoLTE capable mobile phones in the network in order to reinforce 4G coverage in these areas to ensure an optimal VoLTE experience.

At the moment operators are looking for solutions to offload the traffic from the macro cells. In this case, having information about where subscribers are located is very useful to define the right position to deploy new small cells.

Can geolocation information reduce the need for drive tests?
Yes, definitely. This is clearly one of the main benefits that geolocation brings to operators. By actively using geolocation information operators can save a lot of money. From Astellia's experience, we have seen that operators can reduce up to 90 percent of their investments in drive tests. A drive test is very costly because it is a manual procedure - you have to send a team into the field to launch measurements at each location. Additionally, drive tests can only generate a dozen of tests and therefore do not reflect the whole customer experience. They do not provide historical data and data is not available instantaneously. Furthermore, drive tests are often inefficient at reproducing an issue reported by a subscriber since the tests are performed outdoors. However, 70 percent of voice calls and 80 percent of data sessions occur indoors. So, in contrast to geolocation, drive tests do not provide a complete view of the customer experience.

How can geolocation information enrich customer experience management (CEM)?
Geolocation information increases customer care efficiency. By positioning failed calls on a map and analyzing subscriber mobility during a call, customer care agents will better understand a complaining subscriber and can bring a solution more quickly, not only to the complaining customer but also to all the subscribers in that area.

Each element that provides additional information on the customer, provides a better knowledge of that customer and hence insights to improve their experience. Valuable subscriber mobility information can be used to geolocate high revenue generating areas (roamers, VoLTE subscribers, fleets, etc.), determine the customer experience of these hot spots and avoid potential loss of revenues due to a bad functioning network in these areas.

How does geolocation data contribute to new revenue generation?
With the current internet of things (IoT) revolution, asset tracking is becoming a revenue generating and value-added service offered by operators to their enterprise customers. So being able to provide massive geolocation of low-cost IoT devices without costly GPS functionality is a clear competitive differentiator.

Marketing can exploit geolocation data to create additional revenues by, for instance, engaging with a customer accessing a predefined area. Some examples of use cases are location-based advertising, analysis of population flows for road traffic information, helping shopping malls understand where their customers are coming from and the time they are spending at their premises, etc.

What makes Astellia's geolocation solution unique?
First of all, Astellia's solution offers the best-in-class geolocation accuracy. Its algorithm is based on trilateration, minimization of drive tests (MDT) and includes machine learning evolution. It goes much further than providing a visibility at cell level; it gives a precision as near as 100m and with an evolution to less than 50 m with our latest innovations. It allows operators to distinguish indoor and outdoor communications and characterize static vs subscribers in motion, all while preserving individual customer privacy.

Through its 3D geolocation feature, the solution can represent on a map distinct quality of service (QoS) and quality of experience (QoE) for each floor of a building. Astellia's massive geolocation solution provides geolocated QoE of popular apps such as video (YouTube) and social media (Facebook). This allows engineers to adapt capacity for high-trafficking value-generating areas.

Astellia's awarded solution gives a real-time, end-to-end vision (RAN to Core) of the network, 24x7, for 100 percent of the calls. It is the first solution on the market to geolocate IoT devices on LoRA networks. This future-proof solution is completely virtualized and big data ready, and is already adopted by several major operator groups such as Telefonica to better optimize their network and improve the customer experience.

Astellia, leading provider of network and subscriber intelligence for mobile operators, announced that it has signed a bi-lateral agreement for Operations Support System Interoperability Initiative (OSSii) with Nokia.

The OSSii aims to simplify interoperability between OSS systems in a multi-vendor environment. OSSii will provide easy access to interfaces that earlier were subject to restricted use, and will enable interoperability testing services to a wider industry community. The parties' general guiding principles for the OSSii are openness, fairness, reasonableness and non-discriminatory treatment.

Astellia is providing significant value to its customers by correlating probe-based data with network vendor's call traces to identify low-performing network elements, measure device impact on the network, benchmark handsets, analyze application usage and understand customer mobility through advanced geolocation algorithms.

"The signed contract allows us to ensure advanced compatibility of Astellia solutions with Nokia infrastructure equipment. By this license agreement, Nokia grants the access to interoperability tests specifications, and release plans on a selected scope," confirms Roberto Garcia, director of Network Optimization product unit at Astellia.

Astellia announced the deployment of its fully virtualized Nova RAN solution at two of Europe's major mobile network operators (MNOs).

Nova RAN is a 2G/3G/4G optimization solution which runs on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware and is being deployed on the MNO's cloud to support reliability, scalability and performance requirements.

Nova RAN helps these European MNOs pinpoint coverage holes, geolocate traffic hotspots, conduct coverage analysis, troubleshoot customers' complaints and analyze problematic terminals.

"Networks are evolving to enable a more efficient use of network and computing resources and virtualization is an essential enabler. Through the utilization of virtualized software and pooled hardware resources, MNOs benefit from shorter service delivery cycles and a greater level of service agility. We are therefore very proud that these operators have chosen Astellia's future-proof virtualized Nova RAN solution," confirms Julien Lecoeuvre, co-founder and chief technology and innovation officer at Astellia.

Astellia announced the nomination of Abdelkrim Benamar as chief executive officer. He joined the group in the beginning of 2015 as chief operating officer and was leading the effort to improve Astellia's commercial and operational performance with mutual benefit to the company and its customers.

Astellia relies on a strong leadership position in the mobile monitoring and troubleshooting market and is the trusted partner of choice for maximizing business performance of 120 loyal customers worldwide.

Following the acquisition in 2014 of the company Ingenia Telecom, it has added radio optimization to its skill base, allowing true end-to-end monitoring and optimization from radio to core.

Over the last years Astellia has developed strong expertise in CEM and brings CSPs actionable intelligence designed to deliver first class services and maximize revenues. Astellia hereby supports operator's full value chain, from technical to marketing.

The company aims firm growth rates in the coming years through technical evolutions like NFV/SDN, 5G, but also by helping CSPs monetize big data.

The nomination of Abdelkrim Benamar is a logical step within the transformation process which was initiated in 2015 to propel Astellia forward in achieving its growth objectives.

Christian Queffelec, co-founder of Astellia and former CEO has been nominated as Chairman of the Board of Directors and will keep an active role within the company.

"We are pleased to see Abdelkrim Benamar lead the company. We firmly believe he has the experience, competences and management talent needed to drive Astellia's growth. He embodies the fundamental values and strengths of our company. After working closely together for more than a year, he has all our confidence and we are wishing him best of luck in his new function," commented Christian Queffelec.

"I am very honored and pleased today to take up the leadership of the company and would like to thank the Board of Directors as well as its Chairman for the confidence and trust they have put in me. I will drive the company to deliver unique intelligence through automated optimization and prescriptive analytics for successful network, service and subscriber value management. As a priority, I will focus on the acceleration of the transformation process, strengthen Astellia's position in the market and further develop its commercial and financial performance," concluded Abdelkrim Benamar.

Abdelkrim Benamar, 46 years, has more than 20 years of experience in the telecom industry with a successful track record in different executive positions within Motorola, Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent such as vice president EMEA, CEO of Alcatel-Lucent International and Global Head of Financial Analysis & Risk Assessment.

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Digital Magazine

Dec 2016

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