The challenge of understanding mobile networks
Connection reliability was the primary challenge, cited three times more often than other requirements, including security and cost control. And, as we all know, in today’s public-safety environment, without a reliable, high-performing connection, workers aren’t armed with the information they need to do their jobs more efficiently, or safely.
Respondents cited a lack of tools to help troubleshoot connectivity problems, such as slow data transfers. In fact, more than half of the respondents reported they have no tools for troubleshooting cellular connections at all. Some respondents said they rely mostly on talking with the end user (“How many bars do you see now?”) or calling their carrier’s help desk. In short, they rely on anecdotal information and lack any kind of analytical data or tools that will lead to improvements in connection quality.
A large number of respondents said they find the process of selecting a cellular carrier to be challenging, largely because they weren’t sure which carriers delivered the best coverage for their area. The generic coverage maps provided by operators are not enough to make a decision, because they don’t reflect a state/local government’s unique mobile-deployment profile, and they are not detailed enough. Conducting periodic drive testing is an option, but it is expensive, time consuming, and only captures a snapshot in time.
40% of respondents admitted it was difficult to track mobile inventory. This group complained about the time that manual methods, like an Excel spreadsheet, take and the lack of automated inventory tools. One-third report that the problem is a lack of visibility into either the use of the modem or the identity of the modem’s user.
Almost one-half admitted they had no systematic method for gathering data on their cellular deployments. So when asked about their ability to measure certain aspects of cellular data use—for example, 2G/3G/4G usage, disconnection rates, application use and coverage quality—it wasn’t surprising that very few indicated they could measure any one of them. In fact, almost one-half said they could not measure a single factor.
Some vendors have identified this gap and are bringing to market tools that IT staff can use to better monitor and optimize their mobile deployments. With these solutions, government organizations will be able to reduce IT support demands and extend technology and service contract investments, all while increasing employee productivity. To get started, organizations need to ensure their mobility management strategies include the following capabilities:
- Detailed visibility into network signal quality and the type of technology that is being delivered to field users.
- Reports that highlight adapters that are performing poorly.
- A granular view into what applications and processes are consuming bandwidth.
- Tools that enable managers to take action centrally, without touching the mobile device, to fix connectivity issues.
These capabilities provide the knowledge foundation that state/local government organizations can use to understand definitively how well their mobile deployment is working and to ensure their workers are always getting the best connectivity possible.
Andy Willett is senior vice president for NetMotion. The Rysavy Research “Trends in Enterprise Cellular Network Data Usage” report is available at http://www.netmotionwireless.com/rysavy-report.