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Why Understanding Bandwidth is Essential for Improving Subscriber QoE

Measuring and managing subscriber bandwidth can be an easy and cost-efficient way to improve subscriber quality of experience (QoE).

In a HFC cable network, bandwidth is shared among users in the same fiber-node. Even though improvements in DOCSIS technology has allowed a substantial increase of bandwidth availability per fiber-node, a few heavy users—as well as new 4K video content—can quickly kill recently-made network investments and leave subscribers with an impression that they are not receiving the quality they deserve.

Unfortunately, defining and measuring subscriber QoE can be challenging and costly. There are many metrics (such as customer complaints and churn) that may be affected by outside influences or problems inside the customer premises. With so many factors affecting the customer experience, you should measure and take action to improve where you can

Bandwidth usage is one metric that can be measured accurately on your network and provides much needed information on how your investments and network are performing.

Internet Protocol Detail Record (IPDR) is one protocol that enables you to accurately measure bandwidth usage on your network. IPDR-based solutions help you not only understand individual subscriber bandwidth utilization but also CMTS resource utilization. This includes the utilization of fiber-nodes, service groups, channels sets, and interfaces. You can then use this information to make better investment decisions and keep your subscribers happy.

How much congestion is too much? And what methods are available to deal with congestion—other than the costly options of node splits or CMTS upgrades?

Understanding network congestion and which subscribers are causing the problem—or being affected by it—is key to determining what type of investment you should make. Having this information at your fingertips allows you to make informed decisions that are much more affordable than inefficient upgrades driven by trial-and-error. For example, experimental node splits or adding channels to the CMTS can be an expensive waste of time if you are unable to predict (or measure) the outcome.

MSO profit margins are suffering as subscribers increasingly cancel video or bundled packages while increasing bandwidth consumption. Clearly, measuring and managing bandwidth usage is more essential than ever to assure better subscriber QoE and increase customer retention.

By Francisco Viana, Product Manager at Incognito Software

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