Mobile operators around the world are spending nearly $20 billion each year to address network outages and service degradation, according to a recent report from Spirent Communications.
The figure marks an increase of 18 percent over the $16.9 billion in spending calculated in October 2013, the report said. All told, Spirent’s report found operators spend an average of 1.7 percent of their revenues dealing with outages and service degradations.
And it doesn’t look like that figure is going to go down anytime soon.
Spirent’s study found an increase in the reported occurrence of service disruptions as well as an increase in the number of incidents that take more than 48 hours to fix.
According to the report, outages and degradations at the service level account for 69 percent of disruptions. By comparison, only 31 percent of incidents were reported to occur at the network level, where the disruption impacts all services simultaneously.
The most reported type of service disruption was service degradation (41 percent), where one specific service experiences quality issues. This figure was up nine percentage points from 32 percent in October 2013.
Network degradation, where all services experience quality problems, and service outages, where one specific service fails to function, were tied for second at 28 percent. The former was down one percentage point from October 2013 while the latter was up one percentage point.
Full network outages were the least reported incidents at 4 percent, down significantly from 12 percent in 2013.
What’s causing the problems?
Respondents most commonly cited network congestion as the primary cause of service degradations, followed by network failures, physical link failures, application or server issues and customer device issues. Busy-hour congestion, network upgrades, public events and new service launches were flagged by respondents as the most common contributing factors.
Perhaps predictably with the rise of increasingly complex networks, the most common cause of network outages was reported as network failures, which the report defined as the interaction of different networking protocols across different network elements and network domains. Physical link failures were the second most cited culprit of network outages, followed by network congestion or overload, customer device issues and configuration issues.
Network failures, physical link failures and customer device issues were the top three reported causes of the most severe outages and degradations.
“Our experience has shown that a large number of the issues can be resolved through end to end capacity load testing, proving the interfaces between vendors equipment validating that they perform as specified under load,” said General Manager of Spirent’s Mobility Infrastructure Business Unit John Baker. “Proactive testing of mobile networks and services is critical to validate changes and upgrades, monitor performance and in real-time and catch issues before they impact customers.”
Interestingly, though still low on the totem pole, cyber attacks came into play this year as a reported cause of network outages. The presence of cyber attacks in this iteration of the study marks a change from 2013, when the category didn’t register a single response.
One other interesting tidbit?
Voice over LTE (VoLTE) services appears to beat LTE for reliability, with at least 80 percent of respondents reporting that VoLTE outage or degradations issues occur either rarely or not at all.
Where VoLTE degradations or outages do occur, though, operators pointed to VoLTE client performance in the device and mobile core performance issues as the top two causes.
About the report
Spirent’s report was based on Heavy Reading’s 2016 Mobile Network Outages & Service Degradations Survey, a Web-based survey of network operators around the world conducted in January 2016.
Half of the 54 survey respondents were from the United States, with others chiming in from the Asia-Pacific region, Europe, Canada, the Middle East and Africa, South America and Western Europe. More than 60 percent of survey respondents had an annual revenue of more than $1 billion, with 40 percent reporting annual revenues of more than $5 billion.
Three quarters of operator respondents reported offering live commercial LTE service, while just under half said they offer VoLTE service.
Filed Under: Infrastructure