Nokia reveals impact of COVID-19 on network traffic

The Deepfield analytics team of networking vendor Nokia has been having a look at how network traffic evolved over March.

It comes as no surprise to see that video conferencing traffic went through the roof, with some US networks experiencing 700% growth in use of the app Zoom alone. Zoom has come under massively increased scrutiny as a result and is consequently having to raise its game. It’s also interesting to see how much more popular it is, especially at the weekends, than Skype, which had been presumed to be the default off-the-shelf video conferencing choice.

The other main source of network traffic is subscription video on demand. Apparently Disney+ already accounts for 8% of all SVoD traffic in some European networks and is maintaining a higher bitrate than the incumbents thanks to the use of six different content delivery networks. As you can see there is increasingly a spike in SVoD demand in the middle of the day that rivals the traditional evening one.

“Traffic increases continue across all regions, and networks seem to be handling these increases well,” conclude the blog. “However, as mentioned before, we are seeing additional demand placed on specific domains (peering, edge routing). Also, there is a need for the cloud-based infrastructure to scale up to support this increased demand.”

Telefónica pulls its SOCs up with Nokia’s help

Operator group Telefónica is changing its UK Network Operations Center into a Service Operations Center to show how customer-centric it is.

That was the distilled message from a press launch in central London this morning, co-hosted by its vendor for this project – Nokia. Building a SOC will allow O2 UK to make customer-led, as opposed to engineering-led, decisions about its network, we were told by Brandan O’Reilly, the CTO of O2 UK.

Telefónica has apparently already got started on this process in some of its other markets, including Chile and Germany, but this is a first for the UK and also the first time Nokia has been the vendor. So this seems like a big deal for them – hence the press event.

Tim Smith, VP of Nokia Software Europe, explained its SOC platform aggregates and standardises the various network data feeds in order to be able to compare and optimise them. It’s all about being proactive rather than reactive when it comes to network management and AI seems to play a big part, as you might expect.

A lot of the questions from the grizzled telecoms hacks in attendance focused on what specific benefits a SOC offers over a NOC and how they might be measured. While reduced churn is an obvious way to track ‘customer delight’, as Smith put it, Telefonica has its own metric called NCX (Network Customer Experience), which is currently at 79 and O’Reilly hopes will jump by at least a couple of points as a result of this shift. Here are the canned quotes from the press release.

“Telefónica has always aimed to offer the best possible experience to our customers which a reactive network monitoring approach to operations could never guarantee,” said Juan Manuel Caro, director of network and IT operations at Telefónica. “With SOC we have already transformed this in three of our markets reaching the next level in automated customer experience management, granting us flexibility and adaptability that serves as a key differentiator. Nokia’s solutions and services will allow us to achieve this goal in a competitive market like the UK.”

“Telefónica is pioneering the transformation toward customer-centric operations with the deployment of Nokia eSOC,” said Bhaskar Gorti, president of Nokia Software. “Nokia is proud to support Telefónica’s digital transformations and SOC deployments across the globe and with the flexibility to adapt to existing ecosystems in local markets.”

This all seems like quite a lot of effort to go to just to labour the ‘customer-centric’ concept that has become endemic to the point of cliché in the business world. But to be fair to both companies they are at least announcing concrete measures being taken in pursuit of that aim and thus holding themselves publicly accountable for delivering it.

SK Telecom extends its AI management system to mobile network

Korean operator SK Telecom has announced it has applied its TANGO AI-driven network management system to its entire network.

Initially TANGO (T Advanced Next Generation Operational Supporting System) had only been used on the fixed network since last December, but that presumably went well so it has now been rolled out to the mobile one too. It’s all about using AI, predictive analytics, etc, to automate and thus improve network management and optimization.

“The AI-assisted network operation technology based on big data analytics will be essential in the 5G era,” said Park Jin-hyo Head of the Network Technology R&D Center at SK Telecom. “SK Telecom will continue to improve the functionality of TANGO aiming at providing the best-performing network for customers to enjoy.”

TANGO seems to be a big deal for SK Telecom and it has even sold it to Bharti Airtel in India to help with its network. It also seems to be one of an increasing number cases in which operators have taken technological matters into their own hands. Traditionally they may have waited for the vendor community to serve up these kinds of solutions.