Daniel Joseph Barry of Napatech writes:
Avoiding the dreaded Scissor Effect has become the number 1 priority for mobile carriers. The scissor effect refers to the phenomenon of rising infrastructure costs and flat revenues; an unsustainable situation for any business. The scissor effect has already been witnessed in fixed line networks and now mobile carriers face the same challenge in relation to mobile data services. Is it possible for mobile carriers to grow revenue per user in line with bandwidth usage?
Mobile carriers are fully aware of the Scissor Effect threat and have taken steps to respond with various solutions based on Deep Packet Inspection to manage traffic. This includes services where consumption caps are introduced (i.e. you pay a flat-rate up to a certain download limit and higher rates thereafter) and even degradation of performance for “undesirable” services, such as peer-to-peer downloads.
These approaches are effective, but are they customer-friendly? Will this approach lead to more satisfied customers who are willing to pay more or customers ready to switch provider as soon as the option arises? How easy will it be for a hungry competitor to compete with this model? I think the answers are clear.
An alternative approach is to build a strategy based on understanding and satisfying customer needs and providing services that reflect how they would like to use their mobile data services. The proposition is that by concentrating on providing exactly what customers want, they are less likely to switch provider and are more likely to pay more for the convenience and value their mobile data services provide.
The key to achieving this is intelligence. The first step is gathering intelligence on network and service usage, so we understand how customers are using their mobile data services and that they are receiving the quality of experience they require. With this intelligence, it is possible to tailor services to different types of customer usage scenarios. For example, some customers are more active during the day, others in the evening. Some customers are more active on Facebook, others more interested in news broadcasts or music download.
The infrastructure established to gather network and service intelligence data can also be used to monitor usage in real-time trends and shifts in behavior that can be detected early allowing changes to network planning and service plans to be made, not to mention pricing models.
In short, more intelligence on network and service usage leads to more intelligent, agile and responsive service definition, pricing and network planning. What is required is the establishment of a network intelligence infrastructure that can provide the data, in real-time, that is required to make this a reality.
This investment need not be expensive. It is possible to build Deep Packet Inspection and Policy Server systems using off-the-shelf standard server hardware and commercial intelligent network adapters. This provides an extremely cost-effective hardware platform with high-performance. Since multiple systems will need to be deployed at critical locations in the network, it is important to base development on a cost-effective, high-performance, reliable and, most importantly, scalable platform.
Scalability is absolutely essential as mobile data traffic threatens to swamp mobile networks. The advantage of standard servers is that the underlying server chipsets are increasing performance by up to 60% each year. What’s more, these chipsets are based on multiple cores with higher densities available on an annual basis. The availability of more and faster processing cores each year provides an opportunity to scale performance as and when new standard servers are available.
In short, intelligent services, you need network intelligence based on systems that are built intelligently.
Napatech is the leading OEM supplier of multi-port 10 GbE and 1 GbE intelligent adapters for real-time network analysis with over 80,000 Ethernet ports deployed. Napatech network adapters provide real-time packet capture and transmission with full line-rate throughput and zero packet loss no matter the packet size. Intelligent features enable off-load of data traffic processing and packet analysis normally performed in the CPU. This results in more processing power for the network monitoring, analysis, management, test, measurement, security or optimization application being supported. Napatech has sales, marketing and R&D offices in Mountain View (CA), Andover (MA), Washington D.C., Tokyo (Japan) and Copenhagen (Denmark).