Heavy Reading Research

A Test Too Important to Fail

There is no question that 4G networks are where mobile network operators (MNOs) are focusing the bulk of their attention, and it's easy to understand why. LTE is enabling MNOs to finally structure their pricing so that they can make money off of individual subscribers, as well as individual devices on subscribers' accounts. The ability to start moving away from flat-rate pricing to tiered pricing structures has been a huge driver, and MNOs have definitely responded.

According to some estimates, the U.S. has the most competitive 4G market, with five operational Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks as of December 2012. The first to complete networks were MetroPCS and Verizon Wireless, which launched LTE services during 2010. This move enabled them to move away from CDMA-based 3G networks that weren't as competitive against AT&T and T-Mobile's HSPA+ networks. Verizon and MetroPCS have since been joined by AT&T and Sprint Nextel, which both launched in 2011, and T-Mobile, which announced its first market this year.

This extraordinary focus on LTE technology by such mobile giants underscores the reality that LTE is where service providers are focusing their attention for the future, regardless of how quickly (and costly) it will be to transition customers away from legacy network systems. As this occurs, however, it has become increasingly vital that they remain focused on testing, monitoring and assuring the quality of experience (QoE) and quality of service (QoS) their subscribers – especially corporate customers – have on those LTE networks.

These are some of the findings in this month's Heavy Reading Mobile Networks Insider report, Testing of LTE Networks Vital as Network Growth Explodes. This report examines the LTE test and measurement market, analyzing the top testing categories of LTE test and measurement, as well as the strongest drivers in the market. The report discusses challenges and trends in the industry. It includes a comparative analysis of solutions available and examines the geographic landscape of the market expected over the next 18-24 months.

Implementation of LTE testing and monitoring solutions will continue to be a major factor in which service providers are successful with LTE implementations. The service quality that is experienced by subscriber must be consistent with the service quality to which they actually subscribed. Ensuring such satisfaction is increasingly important – and potentially more difficult – as end-users gain access to more advanced capabilities via LTE.

Operators must keep their finger on the pulse of their networks and find new ways to engage with end users as competition in the mobile ecosystem intensifies. As this happens, service providers will begin to charge their subscribers, and corporate customers in particular, based on QoS in order to monetize the investment made in LTE licenses and associated infrastructure. This will again drive the need for solutions that can extract and measure the key performance metrics capable of verifying actual QoS versus what was requested.

— Denise Culver, Research Analyst, Heavy Reading Mobile Networks Insider

The report, Testing of LTE Networks Vital As Network Growth Explodes, is available as part of an annual single-user subscription (six issues) to Mobile Networks Insider, priced at $1,595. Individual reports are available for $900. To subscribe, please visit: www.heavyreading.com/mobile-networks.

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