Improve Network Capacity Planning and Subscriber QoE with Data

by | November 22, 2022 | Networking

Give Your Subscribers the Best Experience

One of the best ways for local and regional ISPs to compete with larger providers is to ensure their subscribers have a great quality of experience (QoE).

Some of the benefits of this are obvious. A happy subscriber is less likely to move to a competitor, and more likely to tell their friends and leave glowing online reviews.

This helps your business thrive and grow while improving your reputation and brand awareness. As an added benefit, providing premium QoE means you’ll receive fewer support calls and get a better return on investment in your network.

Also, it’s the right thing to do. Subscribers rightly expect to no longer be haunted by the ghosts of Internet past. That means no laggy gaming, jittery Zoom calls or infuriating buffering while streaming online content. Every household now has multiple connected devices and should be able to have them online at the same time with no interruption in service.

There’s also an increasing sense that Internet access is a basic human right. As a result, ensuring a positive experience for all subscribers should be a priority for all responsible ISPs.

Busy traffic on a highway

When it comes to quality of experience optimization, there are a few options out there but a true QoE solution should ideally have three prongs:

  • Provide an understanding of the QoE being delivered by the network
  • Include data-based tools to help proactively manage network capacity and make your support team more effective
  • Effective traffic management

As discussed in a previous blog, traffic management is not QoE in and of itself, but simply the final step in providing a solution dedicated to a good subscriber experience. In this blog, we’ll look at the second point above and explore the value of taking a data-based approach to managing network capacity to help boost QoE.

Get to Know Your Data

ISPs have a lot of data on their hands. With the right tools in place, that data can improve decision-making, help you add more customers, and improve staff efficiency. With the wrong tools or lack of knowledge and training, however, your data can be overwhelming, confusing, or worst of all, completely ignored.

Data literacy is becoming increasingly important. Ensuring your entire organization understands and uses data effectively should be a vital part of your competitive strategy.

According to a recent study by Qlik that polled more than 7,000 executives and employees worldwide, 89% of C-level execs expect employees to be able to use data to explain their decisions. Ironically, however, only 11% of employees are confident in their ability to read and understand data, while 45% of execs say they still base decisions on gut feeling rather than hard numbers.

Slide showing how packet loss can affect latency

Good Data Benefits Your Entire Organization

Clearly, there’s a disconnect between knowing that data is useful and knowing what to do with it. This is important because, according to a different study by Forrester Consulting mentioned here, “organizations that invest in data literacy and upskilling experience benefits like higher productivity, increased innovation, and better customer and employee experiences.”

Data literacy also means being able to tell stories with your data to make it more meaningful for others who may not be as comfortable with numbers and graphs.

As Mark Nelson, President and CEO of data visualization company Tableau says in the above article, “Not everyone can speak the language of data, so you need to make data speak the language of everyone else. Putting data in context is the key to making it accessible.”

As the article says, “data can tell companies what problems they’re facing and lead them step by step, to insights and conclusions.”

Data Can Help Improve Your Bottom Line

Consider this real-world example from Vistabeam, a Nebraska ISP and Preseem user since 2017. Using Preseem’s AP Capacity data, the company identified a customer with poor signal strength dragging down performance on an entire access point.

By removing the customer, they instantly doubled the AP’s capacity and improved QoE for everyone else on the access point. Also, by performing a similar analysis on their other APs, Vistabeam CEO Matt Larsen estimates the company can add 30% more capacity overall. Better yet, their sales and marketing teams now know the precise geographic areas to target to add more subscribers. This is a near-instantaneous improvement without simply accepting reduced network performance or lowering customer demand by over-aggressive traffic management!

This move to a data-driven model has resolved longstanding questions about AP capacity at the company, with a subsequent improvement in financial planning and relations between management, sales, and network staff.

This is exactly what we mean by data being more reliable and insightful than someone’s gut instinct. As Matt says in the article, “We now have empirical data that replaces feelings.” He adds they now have “one place to point to that is an authority on whether we can sell more capacity on this access point or not.”

Screenshot

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Another advantage to adopting a data-based approach is that it can help save time, make your staff more efficient, and improve customer satisfaction.

To use another in-house example, our Preseem Plus tier includes simple CPE Radio Scores that summarize RF conditions for each radio based on link rate and stability. These allow you to identify the subscribers that are doing the most damage to your AP capacity and overall QoE, which your team can then prioritize for a fix. This way, you can address issues proactively before the subscriber calls, saving time for your support team and keeping your customers happy.

Similarly, our CPE Radio Metrics (included in both our Plus and Essentials tiers), allow your support team to instantly identify whether a subscriber QoE issue is related to their home wi-fi or connection. This helps eliminate time-consuming ‘staring and comparing’ at multiple systems and gives your team a single pane of glass through which they can view your network’s overall health.

We’ll stop tooting our own horn now, but these are just a couple of examples—check out this story on our customer Au Wireless for a concrete example of how using data has helped improve their network health while spurring business growth.

Summary

Data-based tools make it possible to proactively manage network capacity and make your support team more effective. These tools make it much easier to find and proactively fix network and capacity problems and get to their root cause.

An emphasis on improving data literacy at your organization can help you make better business decisions, increase the efficiency of your staff, and improve the quality of your service. It can also help you better understand your customers and significantly improve their QoE. All of which is good news for your bottom line and your future growth.

The metrics that we derive from Preseem’s interface help us to deeply troubleshoot data throughput issues that our end users may be experiencing. It allows us to rely on actual hard historical and current data. So often it is just so easy to blame the ISP for poor network performance when in reality it is often an internal issue. The data from Preseem allows us to show the end user what is actually happening. It gives them greater confidence in us as a provider.
Louis Uttaro

Co-owner, Oso Internet Solutions, New Mexico

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