In 2024, sports enthusiasts around the world can look forward to the electrifying action of two monumental events: the highly anticipated UEFA Euro 2024, set to unfold in Germany, and the spectacular Olympic Games hosted in the vibrant city of Paris. Besides excitement, as large-scale events and challenges unfold, the resilience and adaptability of the telecommunications network become crucial, ensuring seamless communication and connectivity in the face of unprecedented demands. The surge in network usage caused by the concentration of a large number of people in a relatively small area during peak hours will pose several challenges to mobile network operators (MNOs) and service providers (SPs) who must ensure a smooth and reliable user experience.
Local and roaming attendees at large-scale events often engage in data-intensive activities, such as streaming videos, uploading photos to social media, and using event-specific apps, consequently putting a strain on network capacity. High user density may lead to network congestion, thus resulting in slower data speeds, increased latency, and a higher likelihood of dropped calls. The demand for voice, messaging, and data services simultaneously, all contribute to the overall load on the network. In addition, masses of people moving through venues can trigger frequent handovers between different cells, access points or radio access technologies (RATs), which may impact the user experience.
To cope with the increased demand during global tournaments, network operators may, for instance, deploy temporary infrastructure, such as additional cell towers or base stations. Although this helps increase capacity, it may not always fully alleviate congestion. They often provide Wi-Fi access to attendees to offload some of the data traffic from cellular networks. However, even Wi-Fi networks can become congested if not properly managed.
While improvements in technology and infrastructure are ongoing, to properly address specific challenges caused by network overload, it is essential for MNOs and SPs to employ a combination of advanced technologies, strategic planning, and continuous monitoring to identify, diagnose, and resolve issues related to roaming, thus providing attendees with a reliable, seamless, and positive high-quality communication experience despite the increased demands on the network infrastructure. Setting extra roaming test campaigns while maintaining existing roaming Quality of Service (QoS) campaigns undisturbed helps identify bottlenecks and service degradation and prevent and tackle possible issues caused by out of the ordinary conditions. Specifically, these campaigns should assess the network's quality of service, monitor connectivity, speeds, latency, and packet loss, and ensure the positive impact of technologies such as 5G and VoLTE. Just as important are the ability to benchmark and manage each available roaming partner and the capacity to apply steering policies accordingly.
The addition of extra probes specifically for the event is fundamental to allow operators to properly simulate heavier network load, access real-time diagnostics, and assess how well the network can handle increased traffic during peak times, identify and address potential capacity issues that could impact the roaming user experience, minimize downtime, ensure a more responsive support system, and promptly implement necessary adjustments.
In summary, roaming testing tools are instrumental in optimizing and maintaining the performance of mobile networks, ultimately leading to an improved user experience for subscribers who rely on consistent connectivity across different networks and locations. While mobile network operators typically plan for large-scale events by increasing capacity in the area, predicting the exact level of demand can be challenging, this is where dedicated roaming testing packages prove indispensable, ensuring the best partners and SLAs are in place to make seamless roaming experience a priority.