This can become a serious problem, especially for operators who practice overselling, meaning that their communication channels are not designed for simultaneous Internet access for a large number of subscribers. If customers have constant problems with services that are sensitive to the quality of the channel (IP-telephony, IPTV, video broadcasting, streaming, etc.), they will consider switching to another operator.
There are three main approaches.
Adding more bandwidth. The most obvious one. This means leasing a wider channel from the backbone provider. The main disadvantage of this decision is that it may be necessary to replace the current equipment, and besides, the channel capacity may run out in the region. This method is actually setting aside the decision. The channels expanded this way will soon be congested and the problem will arise again — it’s like trying to eliminate traffic jams by building new roads.
Compacting and cashing. If the provider has a large network, there is an option to organize its own caching server or proxy server in it. Also, you can use network data compression. To do this, you can use the MPPC (Microsoft Point-to-Point Compression) protocol. This method is good, but only as an additional measure.
Prioritization and personalization. This assumes using a specially designed solution that assigns different priorities to different protocols and types of traffic in such a way, that the end-users have the feeling of a quick Internet even when the provider’s channel is heavily loaded. In this case, you do not change anything at the hardware level, the equipment remains the same. This optimization is much cheaper than just the mechanical expansion of the channel capacity.
This option is more effective in almost any situation because it takes into account the real needs of subscribers. The general algorithm of actions is as follows:
- find out which of the Internet services are most demanded by the customers
- give the most critical ones the highest priority.
Stingray Service Gateway uses an adaptive approach and optimizes the network with several functions.
To optimize the network, it is convenient to use the BNG/BRAS (Broadband Remote Access Server or Broadband Network Gateway). This is one of the key elements in Stingray SG solution. The gateway flexibly controls subscribers’ Internet access. It also allows you to apply individual sets of functions to each subscriber. For example, to ignore traffic from certain resources or block specific services.
It can also filter access by the list of prohibited sites, help to conduct marketing campaigns with subscriber notifications, block and replace ads, block certain ports, and much more.
QoS (Quality of Service)
This function is needed to analyze traffic packets and adjust the bandwidth in accordance with the specified settings. QoS can provide up to 25% bandwidth savings. Important traffic will have a high priority for speed, while torrents, for example, will have a low priority. In addition to setting rules for packets and Internet resources, you can configure prioritization by traffic of a specific subscriber, virtual local area networks, or by ports if there are several UPLINKs.
You can also limit the bandwidth for an individual subscriber, taking into account his tariff plan. This guarantees the quality of the Internet, especially in cases where the IP address is associated with several users and one of them overloads the channel.
An important advantage of SSG QoS is that there is no need to spend time on integration with the billing system. Therefore, you can more accurately predict the speed of network access, evenly distribute traffic and prevent network congestion.
QoE (Quality of Experience)
To optimize a network, it is important to have reliable and timely information about its quality. It is best if you know in advance that the connection will soon get worse and you do not learn it from your subscriber.
The Quality of Experience (QoE) module collects statistics by comparing the real data with the indicators you have specified. Thus, at any time you can find out how satisfied your customers are with the services.
Based on the received data, QoE can itself take the necessary actions. For example, create tickets in the customer support system. You can set up your own triggers and filters that are activated upon any event. It is also possible to combine QoE with the BNG functions.
In order for QoE to provide the most accurate information, with a flexible API you can integrate data from QoE with external systems: billing, operator reports, Service Desk systems.
QoE monitors TCP retransmitting and RTT (Round Trip Time) metrics and analyzes subscriber traffic in many ways. For example, full names of URLs and HTTPS/QUIC hosts, browsers, and end-devices data are available.
QoE can track devices, sessions, agents, and client IP addresses, the number of retries, clickstream for each subscriber, traffic data by application and transport protocols, and much more.
Another Stingray SG function to help with network optimization is CG-NAT (Carrier Grade NAT, network address translation). It can assign one public IPv4 address to multiple users. This solves the problem of limited address space and makes an easier transition to IPv6. This technology can use up to 64000 ports on one address. According to VAS Experts experience, 3000 ports per subscriber are enough for TCP and UDP connections for comfortable work. Thus, it is optimal to translate up to 10 private IP-addresses per one public IP. This is necessary to avoid restricting access to Internet resources that use DDoS protection. CG-NAT also supports Hairpinning technology which makes it possible for the subscribers to access each other’s public addresses directly without forwarding packets outside the device.
When optimizing a provider’s networks, keep in mind that mechanical problem-solving can only temporarily eliminate them. DPI solutions help you to intelligently optimize your network without high costs. Proper prioritization of traffic and protocols will make your network reliable and fast. Moreover, your subscribers will also notice this.