50 Million Test Calls

By Mandy Blackburn, Operations Director at Roscom.

Being able to provide consistent and high quality coverage for subscribers is the holy grail for network operators. It’s a top priority for users too, so independent testing is vital to support operators as they strive to achieve that goal. Our Merlin system does a wizard job and is marking 50 million test calls for O2.

Moans about coverage or lack of it rank high in the list of gripes from mobile phone users. The UK regulator, Ofcom, regularly looks into complaints from individuals and businesses who feel the service is simply not good enough.

Of course those of us in telecoms understand there isn’t one simple fix all solution. Mobile phones need to have enough masts to provide the coverage and not everyone wants one in their area. There are other factors too such as tall buildings and hills. A perceived problem with the network may even be a handset issue. But nevertheless today’s subscriber expects to be able to make and receive a phone call whenever and wherever they choose.

One way of operators proving they are doing their bit for consumers is to test the quality of their signal to reassure users the service they are providing is consistent. These checks also ensure they meet their obligations under the rules laid out by Ofcom in the UK It’s simple to do and will provide both early warning systems for when the coverage drops and accurate data to future proof the network and avoid it happening again.

We’ve been working with O2 in the UK for seven years now. Our call senders check service assurance and quality testing through the O2 shops to ensure the network is up and running and all is as it should be. The testing is continuous and in real time. One call sender calls another and then another. Messages, voice quality and mobile data are all included – just as a subscriber would expect.

Where and when the service has been compromised Roscom report and alert the necessary teams. When the back up provisions kick in, we monitor the service rectification and down times too. Our live reporting gives the O2 network engineers the chance to be pro-active in resolving issues rather than waiting for the complaints to come in. It all helps prevent the churn.

Of course there are times when ensuring a consistent high quality service can prove difficult. New Year is a prime example of when networks get overloaded. Football matches where spectators are live streaming also takes up airtime. But sadly, as the Manchester Arena attack proved, having a reliable network is not just about sharing footage on social media. It is vital coverage is tested so the emergency services can be sure their communication links work should another terrible tragedy like that happen again.

We work with O2 and monitor the integrity of the network service constantly – 365 days a year and 24/7. We monitor trends, traffic patterns and loads. We look at maintenance to the network plans and monitor changes in infrastructure to ensure customer service is not compromised or degraded.

O2 take service coverage very seriously, customer satisfaction is high priority. Merlin - our Real Time Test Call Generation gives them the assurance that someone is independently monitoring their system. This means they can genuinely provide their customers with the high standards they have come to expect and rely upon from O2.

O2 maintains its own network of phone masts and we provide 400 test units across the UK. This mix of independent real time testing and ownership of assets means issues can be resolved very quickly. Testing shouldn’t be there just for the bad times. It should be there for the good times too. It provides evidence for compliance, supports your business plans and helps give the subscriber the seamless service they expect.

Here’s to our next 50 million test calls.

Mandy Blackburn, Operations Director at Roscom.