Service assurance

Service assurance, in telecommunications, is the application of policies and processes by a Communications Service Provider (CSP) to ensure that services offered over networks meet a pre-defined service quality level for an optimal subscriber experience.

The practice of service assurance enables CSPs to identify faults in the network and resolve these issues in a timely manner so as to minimize service downtime. The practice also includes policies and processes to proactively pinpoint, diagnose and resolve service quality degradations or device malfunctions before subscribers are impacted.

Service assurance encompasses the following:
* Fault and event management
* Performance management
* Probe monitoring
* Quality of service (QoS) management
* Network and service testing
* Network traffic management
* Customer experience management
* Service level agreement (SLA) monitoring
* Trouble ticket management

There are many drivers for service assurance adoption, with some considering the most important to be the ability to measure the performance of a service. A subscriber’s service experience quality can be directly linked to churn [ [http://www.ossobserver.com/reports/details.cfm?reportID=190 Service Assurance Market Review February 2007, OSS Observer] ] . Therefore, maintaining satisfactory service quality levels is key to creating “customer stickiness [ [http://www.yankeegroup.com/ResearchDocument.do?id=16269 Service Assurance Bridges the Gap Between Reality and Expectation, Part 1: Demand-Side Analysis, Yankee Group] ] .”

Other factors driving growing interest in service assurance include increasing competition, new challenges due to the convergence of networks, services, applications and devices, enabling services over IP and the merging of IT and telecommunications services [ [http://www.ossobserver.com/reports/details.cfm?reportID=190 Service Assurance Market Review February 2007, OSS Observer] ] . But ultimately, it is the CSP’s ability to ensure a satisfactory level of QoS that will have the greatest impact on revenue [ [http://www.yankeegroup.com/ResearchDocument.do?id=16675 Anywhere Consumer: 2007 US Communications/Customer Satisfaction Survey, Yankee Group] ] .

The importance of service performance is also reinforced by research stating that two thirds of subscribers will stop trying a new service after two failed attempts with that service [ [http://www.mobiletoday.co.uk/news.aspx?id=24724&terms=service+assurance&fragment=&SearchType=&terms=service assurance Does This Make You Churn? Mobile Today, January 26, 2006] ] . Therefore, it is increasingly apparent that service assurance tools must be put in place prior to the introduction of a new service if it is to be successful in the market. This is particularly true of deployments of such services as VoIP, IPTV and mobile video [ [http://www.ossobserver.com/reports/details.cfm?reportID=190 Service Assurance Market Review February 2007, OSS Observer] ] .

Service assurance spending by CSPs is forecast to grow to $USD 3.0 billion by 2011. The top five service assurance providers include Telcordia, Tektronix, Agilent, HP and IBM [ [http://www.ossobserver.com/reports/details.cfm?reportID=190 Service Assurance Market Review February 2007, OSS Observer] ] .

References


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