Interconnect Carriers and Least Cost Routing (LCR) models play a significant role in sending voice calls around the world. Although problems may occur, many operators must rely on partners to terminate calls in certain areas. But these days, both business and consumer customers are not tolerant of call quality issues. As service providers hand off calls, they also hand off the ability to control the Quality of Service (QoS) experienced by their customers. And, for better or worse, customers hold the originating carrier responsible for call quality and are more likely than ever to change providers when problems arise.
A new breed of analytics solutions is emerging that provides visibility into call quality across interconnected networks, and may help service providers to simultaneously achieve maximum profitability and satisfied customers.
Intelligent Correlation: Connecting the Dots
Service assurance and network monitoring solutions easily provide QoS metrics such as call complete rates, voice quality Mean Opinion Scores or post dial delay. However, insight into call quality downstream must be correlated at a granular level with data that identifies the interconnect partner. This can prove more difficult, as the information is not always available from the network Call Detail Records that contain QoS specifics. In some cases, this data lives either in a switch, operational system or other external source.
Network analytics engines with intelligent correlation capabilities have the ability to connect the significant data points from multiple network elements, monitoring solutions or OSS systems to provide service providers with QoS Key Performance Indicators for each call handled by each interconnect partner. Network analytics also give originating carriers the visibility necessary to slice, dice and trend information by partner, geography, time of day, call volume, KPI and more.
Leveraging Insight: Smarter Decision Making
Obtaining downstream QoS metrics is a tremendous advancement, but it is just the first step when it comes to managing LCR schemes. The key is using this valuable insight to make intelligent decisions as quickly as possible. For example, service providers now have the ability to set-up alerts that flag quality issues by interconnect partner. When the company receives a notification that voice quality scores or any QoS KPI has hit a specified threshold, the provider can immediately re-route traffic and open a trouble ticket with the partner company. At the same time, the originating carrier can begin to analyze the problem from its end to reduce – or eliminate -- the unnecessary back and forth associated with interconnect issues. With network analytics, service providers can swiftly determine if the problem is isolated to a specific geography, related to call volume or if it appears to be more pervasive. The data can then be fed back into routing models, enabling service providers to automatically distribute calls based on both quality and cost considerations.
Bottom Line Results: Benefiting from Knowledge
Least Cost Routing models were designed to maximize profitability. However, with no control over – or insight into – call quality, service providers have come to expect a certain number of dissatisfied customers upon implementation. It is to the operators’ advantage to avoid that.
Preempting issues is paramount in today’s competitive environment. Customers, whether consumer or corporate, are intolerant of call quality issues and will switch providers at the first sign of problems. Service providers can no longer sit back and wait for customers to report issues; they must do everything in their power to provide a perfect experience, every time.
For service providers that leverage network analytics to proactively ensure downstream quality across all interconnect call legs, churn does not have to be “the price of doing business.” In any economy, even a slight reduction in turnover can have a big impact on the bottom line.
Taking a proactive approach to quality has additional benefits for the service provider as well. It reduces the number of customer service calls, and, as a result, the number of trouble tickets created. Armed with the right information, originating carriers can even help interconnect partners correct their issues faster and create more synergistic, profitable relationships.
Service providers now have the tools they require to no longer operate blindly or surrender control to save money. Including quality considerations in Least Cost Routing models will provide long term benefits for all parties, especially for valued customers.
Tim Moynihan (News - Alert) is vice president of marketing at Empirix, where he is responsible for strategic business planning and product revenue growth.
Edited by Rich Steeves