|By Deborah Strickland||
|December 10, 2012 03:00 PM EST||
Is Like Having a Big Motor under the Hood; But Wooden Wheels Supporting the Car
When the first releases of LTE and WiMAX started to be presented to the general public, it was clear that both technologies held an unprecedented opportunity to provide service quality in a way that was only dreamed in previous access technologies and everybody seemed to follow that line of thinking making QoS (Quality of Service) a hot topic, I have addressed the advantages of this feature in previous blogs, and I even supported the fact that MNO can use it as an effective tool to create differentiation and brand loyalty, but there are many factors that slow down and hinder the full potential development of quality in 4G networks, ranging from regulation of Internet neutrality to the inexistence of applicable cross quality domain specifications to make quality a transparent feature between networks.
Impressed by the Looks, Disappointed by the Personality
The discussions on quality are not new, transport technologies have struggle to come up with a usable concept of quality and have presented several frameworks to implement it, but like in the case of IP transport have not been very popular. MNO have committed to the implementation of quality since the first traffic differentiation features of GSM and WCDMA and other 2G and 3G technologies, but this has never been a true differentiator for them, it has been more of an option for optimization totally left at the discretion of the network provider. But 4G came as an answer to the change of Internet usage habits, change in which users started to use their desktops less and their portable devices more and more, said change impacted deep MNO because users now started to use bandwidth heavy services outside the control of the network provider and when you have a complicated resource to manage, as the electromagnetic spectrum is, quality seemed like the way to go to try and regain some control on how network resources were being used, even some considered that it could be the answer to recover some of the loss profit that was going to the pockets of content providers. But when you look the situation in detail you’ll find a very difficult business case for quality, more when you consider that the app frenzy and the empowerment of devices have started to make the service to pour outside the network provider boundaries in several ways. Part of the philosophy of 4G is to reach several networks so the MNO could retain control of the user, but that created yet another problem; quality in a cross domain environment. Finally, to complicate things more, once you have some quality implementation on your network you began to realize that is not enough to secure the quality in a portion of the network but in the whole telecommunications infrastructure, so the E2E quality challenge comes into the picture, and with that, the conclusive thought that is really not about the network quality but the user experience quality you have to be good at in order to remain relevant in the business.
So You Bought it, Took it Home, Plugged it, Felt Scammed, Now You Take it Back to The Dealership
Well, not really, 4G technology standardization bodies have made their homework; strong frameworks have been proposed to develop the concept of quality, LTE for example made a cohesive architecture involving the LTE access to the EPC in order to support the EPS bearer which is finest granularity of quality in that technology. Plus both LTE and WiMAX have made noticeable efforts to develop consistent procedures to provide appropriate mapping towards legacy technologies, so previous releases can work seamlessly with the latest releases. Also, as the interest on quality grows the investigation becomes more involved and looking towards NGN and future generation of wireless cellular network technologies the panorama seems pretty interesting. Finally the current implementations of 4G networks already have a potent quality scheme to control traffic flows through the network.
Complexity Is Not Something You Can Sell Easily
So what’s so different about 4G networks that make quality a hard **** to swallow, for starters the access segment is planned to support several layers of cellular coverage formed by Picocells, Femtocells and relaying nodes, this set up is known as heterogeneous network, in order to handle the interference and control of resources in such configuration, the user’s device or UE must perform an active role providing key measurements back to the eNB, in other words the control signaling and overhead will be significant, if we consider some of the proposed frameworks to accomplish E2E quality, it is also expected that the UE device provides specific information in a periodic manner, or explained differently, more signaling, more resources for control and less for user traffic, without mentioning that current devices have built in connection managers that are totally outside the control of MNO, very close related to this last issue, there is a real threat that menaces a service that have had an ensured quality for as long as the cellular network existed, the voice in 4G network runs on IP and can be deployed in an application inside a device that prioritizes processes based on the OS SW programed in its processor. Going further, In the case of LTE, EPC is equipped to handle traffic coming from non 3GPP accesses, but other technologies like for example; current WiFi, are not ready to map quality parameters as expected.
The EPC has the functional entities to enforce and control the resources assigned for an application in terms of the EPS bearer, but there is a transport technology that support the communication of the functional entities in the EPC and towards the access and of course that carry the user traffic, an all IP network that has struggle for a long time to implement quality with no luck, the current frameworks like DiffServ or IntServ have proved to provide very modest results for stringent delay and jitter applications in the first case and several problems of scalability in the second case. If we look beyond the edge router of the EPC we’ll find the Internet which is the biggest IP network which has never needed the quality to be successful, there you’ll find the servers where applications reside, needless to say, network operators have no control whatsoever on the Internet.
Those Hard Issues To Solve Are The Ones That Matter The Most
I have just mentioned complexity as a separate challenge for quality, but next I’d like to list the challenges that I see as the main barriers to implement it as planned by the 4G technology releases:
- Internet Neutrality regulation is such a delicate subject that no matter how you put it, if you start to apply prioritization traffic engineering, sooner or later you’ll be thinking how to explain that you’re not handicapping the customer rights to access information. I have proposed and approach centered in the user, or as I called it now; user requested quality.
- E2E quality, from the user device to the application server, cannot be implemented or realized without a big CAPEX consideration, and so far churn seems the only way to justify expenditure on quality but it’s nearly a titanic endeavor to relate one to the other, additionally the radio propagation is “capricious” you cannot sell quality by telling the user that in some cases he can receive what he paid for but sometimes not.
- The device manufacturers have found a way to master the Radio Control layer of wireless accesses, current and not so current smartphones have a SW connection manager programmed and even remotely controlled by the manufacturer and majorly outside the reach of network providers, so whatever strategy MNO implement in the network it’s better to consider the device connection manager issue.
- Quality was so trendy that every standardization, investigation and regulation body has its own agenda to address the issue; 4G technology was conceived to be a congregator of different technologies under one big umbrella, so, separate efforts cannot be beneficial for this technology. Very few cross domain proposals exists, although one might think that being IP the common transport layer for everyone, things will be easier, but the current state of implementation shows otherwise. Worth mentioning the IETF proposal for an extensible IP signaling protocol suite, called NSIS.
- Paradoxically the user comes last when quality is on the table. I previously mentioned that is difficult to sell quality to final user, but is even more challenging when no one cares to make it easy for him, the regulation agencies of several countries have failed totally in this aspect, regulating the MNO to publish performance indicators using engineering units, tells nothing to the user; a better approach would be to put these indicators in time, expressing unavailability or periods outside the download speed accepted mean, or even better idea is to group performance measurements into quality indicators that aggregate these figures, presenting a more general behavior of the network or the service.
It Is Very Rewarding When You Find A Purpose For An Item You considered Unusable
Considering all these factors, I don’t see quality as a feasible feature in 4G networks… Not as the industry tries to display it at least. Even if the history says that you must start providing quality to the network, MNO must shift the focus and start to provide quality to the user, or what many call, Quality of Experience, contrary to what many think, QoE can be implemented parallel to that of the network, and can be independent of the underlying technology. The quality experience can benefit from the tools network technology can provide and undoubtedly once an event is detected a quality process must be put in action to improve the service the user experiences and this action relies in the network technology to accomplish it, but that is just the reactive part of the quality, the proactive part considers the continuous optimization of network parameters, the right schedule of preventive maintenances, the proper training of the customer service staff, the proper problem escalation procedures and why not the right agreements with partners and devices manufacturers, all these can make the difference everyone is looking from the quality. Now from the current technology point of view the task is for the regulators to make quality an easier measure to understand. Another point is business case; It’s clear that a wireless network operator cannot ensure the level of quality a user will receive always, but services or applications that can exploit the advance capabilities of the current 4G technology hasn’t been created yet (e.g Context aware applications), MNO must start to think in these opportunities as aggregated services to take advantage of the current network capabilities before other actors do it.
For more, follow me, @jomaguo
SYS-CON Events announced today that Creative Business Solutions will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Creative Business Solutions is the top stocking authorized HP Renew Distributor in the U.S. Based out of Long Island, NY, Creative Business Solutions offers a one-stop shop for a diverse range of products including Proliant, Blade and Industry Standard Servers, Networking, Server Options and...
Mar. 29, 2015 06:30 AM EDT Reads: 3,811
WHOA.com has announced the newest addition to its data center footprint with the expansion into Equinix's newest state-of-the-art facility: DC-11 Washington, DC IBX+. Located in Ashburn, VA, this data center expands Whoa.com's presence to meet rapidly expanding customer demand for secure cloud solutions. Equinix, Inc. operates International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data centers in 32 markets across 15 countries in the Americas, EMEA, and Asia-Pacific. Equinix is committed to operating faciliti...
Mar. 29, 2015 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,099
SYS-CON Events announced today that FierceDevOps will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. FierceDevOps keeps software developers and IT operations personnel updated on the latest news and trends around the rapidly evolving role of the traditional IT worker.
Mar. 29, 2015 02:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,406
GENBAND has announced that SageNet is leveraging the Nuvia platform to deliver Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) to its large base of retail and enterprise customers. Nuvia’s cloud-based solution provides SageNet’s customers with a full suite of business communications and collaboration tools. Two large national SageNet retail customers have recently signed up to deploy the Nuvia platform and the company will continue to sell the service to new and existing customers. Nuvia’s capabili...
Mar. 29, 2015 01:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,446
Hosted PaaS providers have given independent developers and startups huge advantages in efficiency and reduced time-to-market over their more process-bound counterparts in enterprises. Software frameworks are now available that allow enterprise IT departments to provide these same advantages for developers in their own organization. In his workshop session at DevOps Summit, Troy Topnik, ActiveState’s Technical Product Manager, will show how on-prem or cloud-hosted Private PaaS can enable organ...
Mar. 28, 2015 11:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,163
The WebRTC Summit 2014 New York, to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 16th International Cloud Expo, @ThingsExpo, Big Data Expo, and DevOps Summit.
Mar. 28, 2015 11:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,537
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
Mar. 28, 2015 08:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,777
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cisco, the worldwide leader in IT that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cisco makes amazing things happen by connecting the unconnected. Cisco has shaped the future of the Internet by becoming the worldwide leader in transforming how people connect, communicate and collaborat...
Mar. 28, 2015 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 5,181
WSM International is launching a DevOps services division that offers assessment, consulting and implementation to large enterprises and organizations with complex infrastructures. This is the first independent services company to create a dedicated practice to help organizations looking to transition to the DevOps model. The concept of DevOps is to blend information technology (IT) software development with operations to optimize the computing infrastructure according to the specific needs of ...
Mar. 28, 2015 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,495
SYS-CON Events announced today that the DevOps Institute has been named “Association Sponsor” of SYS-CON's DevOps Summit, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The DevOps Institute provides enterprise level training and certification. Working with thought leaders from the DevOps community, the IT Service Management field and the IT training market, the DevOps Institute is setting the standard in quality for DevOps education and training.
Mar. 28, 2015 06:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,011
SYS-CON Events announced today that robomq.io will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. robomq.io is an interoperable and composable platform that connects any device to any application. It helps systems integrators and the solution providers build new and innovative products and service for industries requiring monitoring or intelligence from devices and sensors.
Mar. 28, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,452
Temasys has announced senior management additions to its team. Joining are David Holloway as Vice President of Commercial and Nadine Yap as Vice President of Product. Over the past 12 months Temasys has doubled in size as it adds new customers and expands the development of its Skylink platform. Skylink leads the charge to move WebRTC, traditionally seen as a desktop, browser based technology, to become a ubiquitous web communications technology on web and mobile, as well as Internet of Things...
Mar. 28, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,819
Today, IT is not just a cost center. IT is an enabler and driver of business. With the emergence of the hybrid cloud paradigm, IT now has increasingly more capabilities to create new strategic opportunities for a business. Hybrid cloud allows an organization to utilize multi-tenant public clouds, dedicated private clouds, bare metal hosting, and the associated support and services for the right use cases through an on-demand, XaaS model. This model of IT creates tremendous opportunities for busi...
Mar. 28, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,085
Business as usual for IT is evolving into a “Make or Buy” decision on a service-by-service conversation with input from the LOBs. How does your organization move forward with cloud? In his general session at 16th Cloud Expo, Paul Maravei, Regional Sales Manager, Hybrid Cloud and Managed Services at Cisco, discusses how Cisco and its partners offer a market-leading portfolio and ecosystem of cloud infrastructure and application services that allow you to uniquely and securely combine cloud busi...
Mar. 28, 2015 04:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,318
SYS-CON Events announced today that Akana, formerly SOA Software, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo® New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Akana’s comprehensive suite of API Management, API Security, Integrated SOA Governance, and Cloud Integration solutions helps businesses accelerate digital transformation by securely extending their reach across multiple channels – mobile, cloud and Internet of Thi...
Mar. 28, 2015 04:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,521
Docker is an excellent platform for organizations interested in running microservices. It offers portability and consistency between development and production environments, quick provisioning times, and a simple way to isolate services. In his session at DevOps Summit at 16th Cloud Expo, Shannon Williams, co-founder of Rancher Labs, will walk through these and other benefits of using Docker to run microservices, and provide an overview of RancherOS, a minimalist distribution of Linux designed...
Mar. 28, 2015 04:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,417
Businesses are looking to empower employees and departments to do more, go faster, and streamline their processes. For all workers – but mobile workers especially – utilizing the cloud to reconnect documents and improve processes without destructing existing workflows can have a dramatic impact on productivity. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Mark Grilli, vice president of Acrobat Solutions marketing at Adobe Systems Incorporated, will outline new ways that the cloud is changing the way peo...
Mar. 28, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,299
SYS-CON Events announced today that Vitria Technology, Inc. will exhibit at SYS-CON’s @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Vitria will showcase the company’s new IoT Analytics Platform through live demonstrations at booth #330. Vitria’s IoT Analytics Platform, fully integrated and powered by an operational intelligence engine, enables customers to rapidly build and operationalize advanced analytics to deliver timely business outcomes ...
Mar. 28, 2015 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,153
Are your applications getting in the way of your business strategy? It’s time to rethink your IT approach. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Madhukar Kumar, Vice President, Product Management at Liaison Technologies, will discuss a new data-centric approach to IT that allows your data, not applications, to inform business strategy. By moving away from an application-centric IT model where data integration and analysis are subservient to the constraints of applications, your organization will b...
Mar. 28, 2015 03:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,525
SYS-CON Events announced today that Solgenia will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Solgenia is the global market leader in Cloud Collaboration and Cloud Infrastructure software solutions. Designed to “Bridge the Gap” between Personal and Professional S...
Mar. 28, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,783