A few years ago the buzz phrase “quality of experience” started getting tossed around a lot. For most people, it was simply some new kind of customer satisfaction metric.
Back then, determining a network’s ‘QoE’ might involve anything from emailed survey to remote test probes uploading and downloading streams of data. Its use seemed restricted to marketing blurbs and CEOs citing it in their quarterly reports. On rare occasion, it might actually be used to change something in a network.
But today, we know that CSPs are using our QX systems not just to measure QoE, but to troubleshoot their networks. We call it ‘tasting the network.’
Watch a good cook for a while, and you begin to notice something – they are always tasting their work. They do this because they know that things are continually changing, even if they cannot see it.
Networks are the same way. Sooner or later our QoS measurements fail us. Networks are never STATIC. They are always changing.
Are your DNS services responding as fast to an IPv6-based request as an IPv4? Are all of your regions getting the same PING response times to Facebook? What sections of your network are better at handling 4K streaming services than others? If streaming bandwidth use drops, do you have a network issue? Is the customer experience worse during certain times? Are all of your subscribers able to use the new high-speed service you rolled out.
Our customers are using the QX system not only to answer these questions, but also to identify, isolate, and validate problems and solutions.
What Operators Discover Using Intraway’s QX Probes
The key is that our QX probes are small PCs. They sit at any network interface point, and perform the same 50 tests or so. They work nonstop, every hour of every day of every week.
The result is the regular gathering of network performance data. Here are some examples of what CSPs have discovered and dealt with using Intraway’s QX probes:
1) Discovered that YouTube changed their streaming algorithm (see their blog post here).
2) Found edge devices that were assigned to the wrong aggregation points.
3) Identified leased-fiber services as the source of poor DNS response times.
4) Revealed obsolete static routes that sent customer traffic the ‘long way around’ and were still active.
5) Established nationwide baselines for actual customer PING times, DNS flows, and Speedtest results.
6) Determined that some edge concentrator uplink cards were dropping only 4K video packets.
7) Two CMTSs in the same town had different speed test results, giving very different experiences to their subscribers.
And the list goes on….
Years ago, I heard a VP of Customer Service at a major CSP joking that his network’s alarm points were the customers calling the support center. With proper use of QoE systems, we can use the customer’s viewpoint to ‘taste’ our networks and improve our service – before the customer calls.
How Intraway’s Assurance Solution Works