Wi-Fi networks are nearly ubiquitous, but not all are created equal. In our recent blog posts, we talked about the frustration that poor Wi-Fi connections cause and how mobile service providers can ensure the best possible end-user experience by deploying our Network Convergence Platform (NCP) Connection Management solution. This week, we take a look behind the scenes at how this powerful solution selects only those networks able to provide the right, personalized end-user experience, and how we make the process of transferring connections between networks entirely seamless for end users and service providers alike.
The magic starts at the user device level. Mobile service providers simply deploy our NCP SDK as part of their existing mobile apps. This impressive function then gets to work, pinging all available networks and evaluating their performance. It uses a range of criteria metrics, such as latency, packet loss, signal strength and more to determine suitability of the network for handling different functions, from VoIP or surfing to streaming video or video calls. The SDK is governed by its ‘brain’ - essentially an embedded smart policy engine which refers to rules set by each service provider regarding the characteristics of an acceptable network.
Each new service provider customer engagement starts with close collaboration to define and establish the network selection policies that help meet their business objectives. Service providers typically set policies based on the level of service they want to guarantee their individual customer tiers. For premium customers, they might require a Wi-Fi network to deliver performance that is at least as good as their mobile network before allowing a switch. Meanwhile, for pre-paid customers, a lower threshold might be acceptable – perhaps requiring that network performance after handoff should be able to at least support VoIP calls or web browsing. It is also possible to specify individual SSIDs to connect to and rank them (for example, prioritizing home or office networks), or even policies that define different behaviors based on the time of day.
While the brains of the system lie in the phone which monitors available networks and then makes the appropriate connection decisions, the corresponding brawn is provided by the policy server that works in the background to proactively define the parameters that should be used. For example, if a service provider’s intention is to offload traffic to public Wi-Fi as much as possible, the policy server is responsible for defining the acceptable performance thresholds for handoff.
The beauty of this solution for service providers is that all the hard work has been done to make much of the process seamless for them, too. Keeping software up to date is a significant undertaking when you consider the countless mobile devices available in the market today and the multiple different operating systems and their variants in use at any time and/or that are entering the market. The NCP SDK has already been deployed on over 100 different OS versions on innumerable mobile devices. Furthermore, there is a dedicated Carnegie Technologies team tasked with ensuring that NCP works with any device, anywhere in the world. Our team members’ combined expertise represents years of configuring the appropriate APIs and keeping pace with the latest OS changes – so service providers can focus on what they do best – providing superior mobile experiences for their customers.
The SDK also future-proofs the connection management capability as it allows service providers to configure and reconfigure a device’s behavior without the need for software updates. It’s just as simple as pushing new policies to its app – which can be infinitely adapted to assure a consistently high-quality customer experience.
Leveraging the Wi-Fi networks that are all around us can form an integral strategy for all categories of mobile service providers – but they can only reap the potential rewards if the customer experience is not negatively affected. Ensuring a premium, continuous experience can only be guaranteed if service providers can be extremely selective in terms of the networks they offload their valued customers onto, taking into account both quality and context. By deploying NCP Connection Management, service providers can deliver seamless network selection that is easy to deploy, manage and update, delivering the best possible customer experience with intelligent connections that adapt to suit the moment.
Now there are no longer any excuses for bad Wi-Fi and service providers can enable their customers to connect on their terms.