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New Framework for Quality-of-Service Assessment of Telecommunication Systems and Services

2023-04-25

New Framework for Quality-of-Service Assessment of Telecommunication Systems and Services

Introduction

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) is established under the provisions of the Kenya Information and Communications Act, No. 2 of 1999 (the Act). The CA was established for the purpose of licensing and regulating postal, information and communication services in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

The exercise of the CA’s mandate is guided by the provisions of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 which grants consumers the rights to goods and services of a reasonable quality while the Act requires the CA to ensure the provision of telecommunication services that are reasonably necessary to satisfy demand and protect the interests of consumers.

In the exercise of its mandate, by a Gazette Notice No. 1711 dated 23rd February 2018 (the Gazette Notice), the CA published a new framework for the quality-of-service assessment of telecommunication systems and services in Kenya (the New Framework). The New Framework was published, particularly in relation to mobile communication services and was, therefore, targeted, particularly, to Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and other interested stakeholders.

Commencement of the New Framework

According to the Gazette Notice, the various components of the New Framework were to take effect on various dates starting from 1st December, 2017 to 2020, and beyond. The justification for this is indicated to be the incorporation of additional components in the assessment framework. The implementation is, therefore intended to be carried out in phases to enable a smooth transition.

The New Framework was published in place of the Quality of Service (QoS) and Standards for GSM Systems published by the CA in the year 2009. The New Framework is significantly different from the 2009 version as the 2009 version only appeared to set out key performance indicators for quality-of-service requirements and their threshold targets.

Justification for the New Framework

The New Framework was introduced by the CA owing to the changes that have occurred in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector and, in particular, with regard to the increased reliance by the public of ICT services since the 2009 framework was first published.

Highlights of the New Framework

By way of summary, the highlights of the New Framework are as follows:

(a) Scope of services to be covered;

(b) Quality of service assessment components;

(c) Performance indicators (KPI) for network performance and end to end quality of service and their targets;

(d) Quality of experience;

(e) Aggression of quality-of-service assessment components; and

(f) Data capture and sourcing approach.

We discuss the key points under the New Framework in relation to each of the highlights below:

The scope of services to be covered

Significantly, the New Framework was expanded beyond voice to encompass mobile voice service, Short Message Service (SMS) and data/internet services.

Quality of service assessment components

The New Framework is based on three (3) main components that constitute the overall assessment of service quality as follows:

a) Network Performance (NP);

b) End-to-End Quality of Service (EEQS); and

c)Quality of Experience (QoE).

NP gives an indication of the quality of the network infrastructure, EEQS gives an indication of the quali-ty of the network infrastructure together with end-user devices while QoE gives an indication of the quality of the network infrastructure together with end-user devices from the customer’s perception. The assessment data for NP will obtained from the operator’s network management systems, that for EEQS from drive/walk field tests while the assessment data for QoE will received from customer satis-faction surveys to be conducted.

Key performance indicators (KPI) for network performance and end to end quality of service and their targets

The table below summarizes the KPI and sub-KPIs for both the NP and EEQS of service components, under the New Framework, for the various services under consideration:

SERVICESub KPIParameter
Mobile TelephonyNetwork Coverage (population and geographic)Coverage/roll out
Network AvailabilityReceived Signal Level
Network AccessibilityUnsuccessful calls
Service IntegrityCall set-up time and voice quality
Service retainabilityHandover success rate and dropped calls
SMSNetwork AccessibilitySuccessful SMS ratio 
Service AvailabilityCompletion ratio for SMS
Service IntegrityEnd to end delivery time for SMS
Data Transfer/Internet AccessNetwork AccessibilityLatency and jitter
Service AvailabilityData transfer failure ration and throughput of successful data transfer
Service IntegrityRadio Packet Loss
Network AccessibilityInternet Accessibility
Service AvailabilityHTTP set up failure ratio, HTTP set up time, HTTP Completion failure ratio, HTTP Completion time and HTTP generic scenario availability

Quality of experience

The QoE component, according to the New Framework, will be based on annual customer satisfaction surveys on their perceptions relating to a variety of quality-of-service aspects such as network availability, service quality, service tariffs and customer care, among others.

Aggregation of QoS Assessment Components

In arriving at the overall quality of service assessment of a service, the NP, EEQS and QoE shall be aggregated based on a weighting system by the CA which shall be adjusted progressively towards the desired weighting ratios that will be attained by the third year.

Data capture and sourcing approach

In relation to the NP, network operators and service providers will be required to submit to the CA the network coverage and the overall network performance data and analysis based on data obtained from the operations and maintenance facilities of their network on a monthly basis.

In relation to the EEQS, the CA will be required to use the following mechanisms to extract data on end-to-end quality of service parameters:

a) specialized stationary or mobile units;

b) subscriber handsets installed with appropriate software and programmed to transmit raw data to a central server; and

c) traditional walk/drive-test system.

Lastly, in relation to the QoE, this will be determined by annual customer satisfaction surveys undertaken to get customers’ views relating to network availability, service quality, service tariffs and customer care, among others.

Treatment of results and non-compliances

According to the New Framework, a licensee will be deemed to be compliant in respect of the quality of ser-vice if a licensee attains an overall aggregate performance achievement of eighty percent (80%) and above based on the assessment criteria to be developed by the CA. Failure to attain this percentage of compliance will result in a licensee being notified of the contraventions, remedial orders being given, and penalties being applied.

Bernard Musyoka, Charles Kyengo and Wambui Mutugi