Pakistan Telecommunication Authority recently announced its QoS survey results for 3G and 4G services of telecom operators. This QoS Survey was conducted in just four cities — out of more than 250 cities where 3G services are available — and not to be mentioned it was first QoS survey that PTA conducted in years.
While we appreciate PTA’s efforts for evaluating Quality of Service of telecom operators, experts believe that PTA’s current methodology of evaluating QoS can be bettered by incorporating simple yet more effective modern-age tools.
Current Methodology for QoS Survey
PTA currently conducts drive tests through which various KPIs for quality of services are determined. These drive tests are conducted on specific days (usually once in an year or two or more) and on specific routes only where special equipment is used to calculate KPIs to determine quality of service for cellular operators.
These routes are selected randomly (we are assuming this as PTA didn’t respond to our request of sharing the methodology through which these routes are selected) and one will agree that one operator may get advantage in 3G/4G speeds at a particular location as compared to others.
It must be noted that quality of 3G and 4G services depend on number of subscribers on a cell site, distance from a cell site and various other factors.
Meaning that a random location might be nearer to a cell site of one operator as compared to others’, or number of subscribers of one operator might be lesser at a random location as compared to subscribers of other operators, and hence one operator may get undue advantage over others through such random selection of routes.
For those who don’t know, PTA uses NEMO Invex 7 QoS equipment for measuring QoS of operators. This equipment is manufactured by “Anite”, a Finland based firm that sells one testing unit for several million rupees.
Measuring QoS through Web and Mobile Based Apps
While we agree that the devices used by PTA for QoS survey is industry best but the amount and type of data that PTA gathered for QoS surveys can easily be obtained through simple web and mobile based apps.
Simple Android and iOS speed test apps can not only get PTA the download speeds of 3G / 4G network operators, but also GPS co-ordinates of the users, operator name, signal strength, mobile type, OS version and various other information that they can grab to find out the Quality of Service and as well as Quality of Experience for end users from all across Pakistan.
PTA can get such speed-test app developed from a local firm and ask users across Pakistan to use the official app for their speed tests, and this way they won’t only get real-time speeds of 3G/4G operators but also can save repetitive cost of doing drive tests.
This way, PTA can keep an eye on QoS on real-time and 24/7 basis to find out if there are any issues for any of the operator in any area of Pakistan.
Moreover, by incorporating speed-test app data for QoS survey, the sample size will increase by over hundred folds if not more, to get the true picture of what QoS telcos are offering.
Additionally, they will also get speed data of WiMAX operators, fiber optic players, EvDO operators and all sorts of other ISPs operating in Pakistan, hence more ability to keep a watch on how other network providers are doing with quality they offer to customers.
And if PTA thinks that getting an app developed and then pushing consumers to use it is hard, they can simply buy data from Ookla — the parent company of speedtest.net — to get all such data to evaluate QoS of telecom operators.
But getting an in-house app will definitely be more economic, effective and accurate by any means.
Measuring Quality of Experience
With in-house apps, PTA can also ask users feedback on quality of experience for their respective networks. This is something that PTA currently doesn’t evaluate.
With polls and scientific surveys, that can be added in the app as a separate function or section, can give PTA an accurate measurement of quality of user experience on networks and hence more authoritative data can be collected about how users are feeling about the services that they are using.
Determining Telcos’ QoS through OSS Monitoring
Earlier this year Zong had proposed the regulator to ensure telecom operators’ quality of service through OSS monitoring.
For those who don’t know, each operator has designated OSS solutions through which they monitor and maintain networks in real-time for any technical or procedural issues.
After getting an official speed-test app for Pakistani users, down the line, PTA can also fetch network data through OSS monitoring, in real time and 24/7, to see how operators are doing with the quality.
This way they can also keep an eye on various KPIs including:
- Network downtime
- Grade of Service (E2E blocking)
- Call Completion Ratio
- RAB setup success rate
- Session abnormal release rate
- Inter System HOSR
- and more!