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How to validate network SLAs for enterprise customers before order acceptance

This Catalyst has devised a way of achieving quality validation for CSPs’ B2B sales before order acceptance, via automatic testing of network capabilities against customer business intents

Alasdair Riggs
17 Oct 2023
How to validate network SLAs for enterprise customers before order acceptance

How to validate network SLAs for enterprise customers before order acceptance

Commercial context

Connectivity increasingly underpins mission-critical functions in sensitive application scenarios – such as connected driving, emergency services, and smart healthcare – yet considerable barriers remain to CSPs’ ability to make good on the commercial opportunities. Taking the example of electric vehicles (EVs), over half of EV owners at 58% have experienced failure to charge due to service outages – and more than 21% of all charging attempts failed in 2022 due to connectivity problems, up from 15% in 2021. This lack of reliability is a major contributor to around 20% of EV owners reverting to petrol cars at some point – with troubling consequences for net-zero targets.

To support important verticals like this and many others properly, CSPs must be capable of accurately validating how connectivity services can serve the needs of prospective enterprise customers, and agreeing SLAs, from the initial touchpoint – rather than after receiving an order. They also need a way of doing so that is clearly defined by business outcomes desired by the prospective customer, rather than being focused on internal technical characteristics. This is in part because so many sales opportunities across vertical industries now depend on being able to convincingly estimate a network’s capacity to deliver quality of service (QoS) ahead of making the agreement.

There is currently however no such method for precise and qualitative certification ahead of time – which leads not only to unrealized individual sales, but more broadly to imprecise pipeline planning, customer disappointment at quality received, longer sales cycles, and unmonetized capacity in the network. Lengthy manual negotiations conducted while trying to translate business objectives into technical requirements lead to lower service performance and SLA breaches, while network overbuild to meet enterprise requirements is no longer justifiable commercially or environmentally.

The solution

The Experience Guaranteed Connectivity Catalyst demonstrates how cloud-native, experience-aware network automation can help to CSPs to break this pattern. The project team has devised a method of achieving SLA validation before order acceptance is complete – enabling a shift in B2B sales from ‘order-and-accept’ to ‘request-and-recommend’ – and providing opportunities for the CSP to suggest experience-guaranteed recommendations that not only fulfil, but surpass the defined business intent. Service experience validation of end-to-end business intent is automated by injecting synthetic traffic into the live network to simulate real user behavior, observing real network performance, and providing a customer experience report and score – giving the CSP the data needed to provide recommendations, guide ordering, and set pricing.

For instance, on receiving a request for guaranteed connectivity of ten charging points within four weeks in a given location, the CSP could respond with a proposal to satisfy the request in half the previously anticipated time – while recommending the best locations for value-added services such as Wi-Fi, diagnostics, and OTA software upgrades. This is achieved by active testing of every available connection (for core and surge scenarios), then calculation of an optimal combination of connections that, in addition to meeting minimum performance requirements, are assessed for additional business characteristics. Customers can then select based on these characteristics – in the same way one might weigh up factors of departure time, airport, and duration before booking a flight.

What this solution requires operationally of CSPs is as follows:

  1. Dynamic network configuration and resource allocation via intelligent algorithms to assess real-time network conditions, service requirements, and customer preferences to allocate resources efficiently while maintaining QoS
  2. Interoperability and standardization to integrate diverse network elements, devices, and services seamlessly
  3. Real-time service simulation and validation with integration of advanced network modeling tools, real-time data streams, and predictive analytics
  4. Complex SLA management through development of intelligent SLA monitoring tools, predictive analytics and automated enforcement mechanisms

Applications and wider value

This new ability for CSPs to offer guaranteed networking experiences will help to differentiate them strongly in the market. In the industry on which the pilot focused, that would mean a significantly increased share of the $8.4bn global EV infotainment market by 2028 – by commanding a larger share of subscription fees, capturing a greater proportion of total connections, and successfully monetizing in-car services such as conferencing, gaming, VOD and content streaming. At the same time, the overall CAPEX required for EV charging infrastructure can be reduced significantly. With the EU requiring one charging point per 60km of highway by 2026, and the UK requiring 99% reliability by end of 2023, even a 1% improvement in cost-efficiency would translate into major savings and enable faster rollout – further contributing to achievement of global net-zero targets.

The solution also helps to mark a transition for CSPs from a transactional to a more advisory role – as the dynamic shifts from customers approaching CSPs with a list of questions about their own requirements which typically solicit little more than a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, and starting to consult CSPs as the proposers of solutions based on their knowledge of the options to deliver on the customer’s business objectives. Intent is at the thematic heart of the project; a key contribution in terms of standards is innovative use of the TMF921A API: Intent Management, by applying business intent before order acceptance (rather than during live operations), while enhancing the applicability of the intent common model TR290 to particular vertical industries.

As Tolga Özel, Program Manager Mobility Ecosystem at Togg explains, “we develop connected EVs as more than a car, enabling a third living space beyond home and office. This Catalyst demonstrates how we can enable this by delivering outstanding network and service performance to the users of our digital mobility services and infrastructure, maintaining the rapid growth of our business while redefining the concept of the mobility ecosystem.” CSPs can be a trusted partner not only for mobility services providers, but the full range of verticals who require assured network experience SLAs before committing – and this Catalyst is a major help in clearing the barriers to that goal.

Experience guaranteed connectivity