The future of Drive-Test after COVID-19 – Virtual is here to stay

By December 28, 2020Resources

The insatiable demand for network connectivity drives Mobile Network Operators (MNO) to speed up the optimization and deployment of their networks, especially in the past few months in the wake of the global pandemic. Traditionally, operators conduct drive-test (DT) for assessing the Quality of Service (QoS) to optimize the network’s performance. However, it is burdensome and extremely expensive when it comes to a nationwide network scale. CovMo enhanced Virtual Drive-Test (eVDT) provides a cost-effective solution that disrupts the conventional optimization process by enabling automated network testing, which has been critical during the COVID-19 crisis. Furthermore, with the normalization of remote technologies adoption, the switch to eVDT will seamlessly assist operators in continuing network testing in a post-COVID world.

Conventional Drive-Test

To plan and optimize the network, operators perform conventional drive-test periodically. It requires skilled engineers to drive in neighborhoods where problems were reported, or QoS smoothness validation is required. They use special testing equipment to capture radio data and analyze it to understand the customer experience impacting issues. Yet, this process is labor-intensive, often fails to recognize the failure, and can take days for a given neighborhood.

Moreover, the conventional drive-test is too costly to conduct, especially at the level required to obtain a statistically significant sample of an extensive network. Operators spend millions of dollars annually to perform regular testing. These are resources that would be better spent in top priority next-generation technology planning and deployments.

Enhanced Virtual Drive-Test

Groundhog’s CovMo enhanced Virtual Drive-Test (eVDT) assessment solution permits network quality and user experience enhancement by highly reducing standard drive-test’s dependence. It delivers excellent value for the operators through improved efficiency and significant cost savings to build high-quality networks.

Based on real subscriber data continuously reported by on-the-road mobile phones and machine type devices, CovMo eVDT collects and analyzes massive Measurement Report (MR) data with the Minimization of Drive-Test (MDT) feature activated. As a result, operators can leverage geolocated network statistics with GPS accuracy to comprehensively evaluate network performance.

CovMo eVDT not only does collect the GPS-enabled samples reported by the subscribers but also does filters out the ones with high-confidence. The feature can then plot them on the road to replicate scenarios similar to a conventional drive-test environment. The solution provides nationwide coverage and reflects the real QoS of the mobile subscribers at any time and location – even in restricted areas.

eVDT – A permanent solution

CovMo’s eVDT has been remarkably helpful for the operators during the COVID-19 crisis. For example, one MNO experienced a traffic hike resulting from the pandemic mitigation measures (remote work, online education, among others). The operator faced the urgent need to keep the network responsive to the changes in usage patterns and quickly optimize it to support the subscribers. Likewise, they needed to guarantee reliability for front-line workers and critical national infrastructure.

On the other hand, the operator was constrained to perform conventional drive-test for network health-check or troubleshooting. The deployment of CovMo eVDT reshaped how the operator conducts network optimization by remotely inspecting the network with high accuracy, speed, and efficiency; while ensuring their personnel’s safety as eVDT majorly replaced the need for dispatching their technicians to high-risk locations.

In the years to come, these regulatory restrictions to perform traditional drive-test will remain strict. Operators have to rethink their conventional optimization process. Additionally, the rise of remote work has led to an increasing reliance on virtual solutions, which will go on after the pandemic. So, eVDT is a permanent solution that will seamlessly assist operators in continuing network testing.

A cost-effective alternative to conventional drive-test

CovMo eVDT is a better approach to improve customer satisfaction because it shortens Time-to-resolution (TTR) to solve poor network quality-based subscriber complaints and churn quickly.

The solution helps accurately identify network failures and reveal the radio conditions to invest in the right areas. Consequently, operators can largely replace expensive, time-consuming conventional drive-tests and save over 60% in optimization projects. Additionally, it ensures compliance with relevant standards and regulations based on nationwide coverage and 24/7 data processing.