Essential Measurements to Assessing the Quality and Performance of the EPC Measurements must be rich, flexible, visual, complete, and represent an accurate real-time view of the network or device being tested. In order to get the insight they will need to optimize performance and accuracy, service providers must remember a few key areas in their test and validation methodology:
- Quality of Service (QoS). The quality of service, expressed in jitter, latency, packets dropped, and other measurements, is a key performance indicator in an all-IP network. QoS testing measures the degradation of a guaranteed bit rate flow, such as a voice call, when a sudden data surge occurs. QoS imbalances should be measured on a per service data flow, per-subscriber, and node level basis using triple-play and video-rich traffic.
- Quality of Experience (QoE). QoE tests validate the perceived quality of a voice or video stream. Based on well-established standards, QoE tests are essential to assess the overall quality of the network from the user’s view, and they are especially effective as end-to-end measurements conducted between mobile equipment and the edge of the IP core network.
- Deep Packet Inspection (DPI). DPI is a cornerstone capability of the PDN-GW, since QoS enforcement is performed by inspecting and regulating ingress and egress traffic. Using DPI to simulate PDN behavior and to observe and report traffic violations, the EPC can certify service level agreements (SLAs). Triple-play and video-rich traffic is essential for testing node functions that enforce QoS, such as DPI.
- Subscriber behavior. Subscriber modeling emulates the mix, volume, and variability of mobile user communities. It is only by using rich traffic profiles, including video, file transfer, instant messaging, email, torrents, etc., that the EPC core network can be fully battle-tested.
- Charging. LTE charging occurs mostly in the PDN-GW and SGW. Interfaces have been defined for offline and online charging. A crucial EPC charging test involves checks and balances between the generated traffic trigger events and the measured charging events.
Simulating massive-scale, real-world mobile user behavior can successfully validate the EPC billing system. Stepping through a sequence of events that trigger charging data records (CDR), including establishment of dedicated bearers for VoLTE services or a conversational video session, roaming, access to a specific external network (APN), and many other events, operators can meet their billing needs. In fact, there are dozens of events that a particular operator may choose to monetize, each of which can trigger CDRs to be generated by the S-GW or P-GW and sent on to the OCS or OFCS. By comparing the emulated event counts to the records in the OCF/OFCS, the accuracy of the charging system can be determined.
Preparing for LTE Billing – It’s All About Testing LTE wireless network deployment and the required interoperability with legacy technologies create new levels of network complexity. Fortunately, service providers will be able to capitalize on the promises of LTE through a full EPC evaluation using test tools for all mobile network elements from layer 2-7. The ability to create a realistic billing model through deciphering an average text message user versus the avid YouTube video watcher will allow service providers to charge according to usage. Providing service providers with deep, actionable-insight into their networks will allow them maximize new LTE infrastructures and provide proper billing structures to adhere to a high level of customer satisfaction.