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Spirent-Commissioned Report Finds Network Failures As The Leading Cause Of Mobile Network Outages

Report Underscores the Financial Impacts of Outages and Degradations that Cost Operators More than $20 Billion Annually

Spirent Communications, a global leader in test and measurement, offering an extensive portfolio of solutions to test data centers, cloud computing and virtualized environments, high speed Ethernet networks & services, today, announced the availability of an insightful report from telecom trends analysis firm, Heavy Reading, titled “Mobile Network Outages & Service Degradations: A Heavy Reading Survey Analysis.” Spirent commissioned the second edition of this survey, to provide the industry with a report card, on how the evolving mobile network is performing when it comes to service reliability. The report provides in-depth survey-based analysis of what operators are currently experiencing in terms of network disruptions. It also explains the impacts outages can have, on the entire business, especially when they affect a large percentage of subscribers.

Key report findings based on surveys of 54 global mobile operators:

  • “Busy hour congestion” is the leading contributory factor in outages, marked by 37 percent of respondents as occurring “often”, 52 percent as “rarely” and only 11 percent as “never.”

  • “Network congestion and overload” is by far the most common cause of network outages and degradation, with 81 percent of respondents listing it, followed by “network failures” at 46 percent.

  • Network failures are the cause of the most severe outages and degradations – named by 85 percent of respondents.

  • January 2016 survey data shows an increase in the number of outages that take 48 hours or more to fix.

  • The launch of a new phone is typically less disruptive than the launch of a new service, with 44 percent stating a new phone is “never” a contributing factor compared to 28 percent marking “never” for the launch of a new service.

    Mobile communications is today an all-IP environment and is accelerating at an ever-increasing pace. Millions of smartphone users demand, instant access to hundreds of thousands of apps and fast download speeds. Managing delay-sensitive services such as VoLTE is more challenging than earlier days when traffic was driven by users checking email and browsing the web. The traffic mix is no longer voice and SMS, and operators need to embrace this reality.

    To manage this new all-IP reality, the report’s findings are consistent with the need for active network testing that proactively identifies potential problems before they cause outages or poor service performance. Currently, many operators rely on passive probes that sit in specific points of the network, and these probes can be complemented by proactive testing. These arrangements typically require manual review, so many issues occur undetected after filtering many terabytes of data.

    While the report shows significantly fewer issues caused by new phones there are still many issues in mobile networks and their performance management systems that result in carriers having service degradations or outages that they are not able to react to before they impact customers.

    “Among the most notable findings in this year’s study is that network failures are now the leading cause of mobile network outages, where physical link failures were the primary cause a couple of years ago,” said Patrick Donegan, Senior Analyst with Heavy Reading. “Also notable is that mobile operators are reporting a higher incidence of incidents taking forty eight hours or more to fix.”

    “The Heavy Reading report makes the case clear that degradations and outages are serious problems for operators, resulting in hits to their brand reputations and lost profit with cost being typically one to five percent of revenue,” says John Baker, General Manager, Mobility Infrastructure Business Unit at Spirent Communications. “And these outages will only increase in severity and frequency as video traffic and IoT place massive demands on network capacity. Proactive testing of mobile networks and services is critical to validate changes and upgrades, monitor performance and in real-time and catch issues before they impact customers.”

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