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11/13/2017 Challenges and Strategies for Mobile Network Operators in Handling Voice and Data Traffic During Mass

ring Mass Events – 3dB Consult


hallenges and Strategies for Mobile Network Operators in

Handling Voice and Data Tra c During Mass Events


Mass events that bring together tens of thousands of people in a limited time and space are great ways of telling how well prepared one
or another Mobile Network Operator is for handling rapid traffic peaks.

Although subscribers are more forgiving during mass events when it takes several attempts to make a successful call or
send/receive/upload a photo, it can still leave a mark on the operators’ reputation and can affect subscribers’ future choices.

There is also a general tendency of traffic shifting from voice to data – people are using more Instant Messaging applications like
Skype, WhatsApp, Viber and are also making calls through these apps. Another trend is the upload of images to social media sites or
even streaming live video either to friends and family or to social media like Facebook Live. All this means that when in normal
operations the Downlink data volume greatly exceeds Uplink data, then especially during mass events the traffic distribution between
DL & UL is equal or could even be leaning towards uplink.

The goal of this White Paper is to give an overview of standard actions to be taken to grant the best possible user experience in any
type of mass event.

Table of contents
1. Introduction

2. Event Preparation

3. Changes during the duration of the event

4. Real Time Monitoring

Experts in design and optimisation of mobile networks, 3dB consult offers design and optimisation services for mass events like concerts, sports
events, festivals, arts events, etc. These services focus on improving the performance of both the indoor solution for the arena (if such is the case) and
the outdoor coverage solution of the surrounding area.… 1/11
11/13/2017 Challenges and Strategies for Mobile Network Operators in Handling Voice and Data Traffic During Mass Events – 3dB Consult

The aim of the services is to provide operators’ subscribers the best customer experience during the event as well as outside
the event.

3dB consult has extensive experience in the field of sizing, preparation, optimisation and real-time monitoring of mobile networks in mass events. We
have performed this type of service for several mobile network operators in different countries, always with highest quality and excellent results.

To guarantee the best service quality 3dB consult has developed a proprietary tool for the operator to access the event statistics, as well as information
about the actions being taken in case of degraded KPIs, easily and in real time.

Event Preparation
Preparation is key task to prevent network degradations. Preparation is started several weeks before the actual event takes place. With the preparation
analysis and actions, we prevent potential problems as well as HW incidences, congestion problems in 2G/3G or 4G technologies or a network
unsuited configuration.

For this activity is very important to possess correct and detailed information on where and when an event will take place and what is the expected

As part of the even management dimensioning and network review of all BTSs, NodeB’s and eNodeB’s involved in the event,
special design inside the event arena and all nodes inside event’s zone of in uence should be performed. With this study, the
situation is evaluated and the operator receives a full report on the situation as well as actions to carry out.

For a more structured approach it is recommended to split the events in categories based on suitable criteria. It is common to categorise the events in
three levels based on the event attendance:

Level 1 with maximum attendance (Large). An event with more than 12,000 participants, e.g. a football match.

Level 2 with medium attendance (Medium). An event between 6,000 and 12,000 participants, e.g. a music concert.

Level 3 with minimum attendance (Small). An event with less than 6,000 participants, e. a corporate event

Event preparation includes the following dimensioning tasks and network check actions:… 2/11
11/13/2017 Challenges and Strategies for Mobile Network Operators in Handling Voice and Data Traffic During Mass Events – 3dB Consult

DImensioning rules
Dimensioning rules and guidelines should be developed to be followed for each technology and for each event type and level.

2G dimensioning can be based on voice traffic Erlangs, data services blocking or both.
Following is an example of 2G capacity increase rule used for a specific operator:

Increase TRX number in case:

GPRSBlocks > 1% WHEN % 3G usage< 50%

Cell EDGE DL tput < 100kbps when % 3G usage < 50%

GPRSBlocks > 3% when 50% < % using 3G < 80%

For 3G dimensioning the focus is on radio resources, CEs, power and carrier expansions based on resource consumption. For instance:

Ensure minimum levels of churn above 96% of the traffic of its value:

CSSR-CS and PS >98,2% by node

Throughput >= 200 kbps by node 

The principal capacity KPI’s to be reviewed and monitored in 4G could be divided into two categories:

Critical KPI’s

RRC Connected Interface User license utilisation

PUCCH utilisation

Processor Load Level, CPU Load

Non-critical KPI’s

PRB utilisation… 3/11
11/13/2017 Challenges and Strategies for Mobile Network Operators in Handling Voice and Data Traffic During Mass Events – 3dB Consult

Paging utilisation

PDCCH utilisation

In addition to dimensioning tasks, parameterisation scenarios are de ned and di erentially applied speci cally for high tra c
situations for nodes involved in the event. The parameterisation main goal is to maximize the e ciency of existing resources
while maintaining the highest possible customer experience and keeping accessibility values within right margins:

The idle parameterisation should encourage users to stay in LTE, 3G and 2G (in that order).

By parameterisation and functionalities, the balance between cells of the same technology is maximised.

Reducing ping-pong between technologies.

Voice services are prioritised against data.

Coverage will not be reduced by modifying the CPICH power. 

For an operator to de ne suitable dimensioning and parameterisation rules, it takes some research, some theoretical
calculations and a lot of experimenting. 3dB consult possesses all this knowledge only by having managed hundreds of events
on a di erent scale throughout the years.

Changes for the duration of the event

There’s often the question whether network changes to handle mass event should be only logical (parameters), or physical
(antenna tilts and directions) or both. As mentioned before, to achieve the best results each event should be considered as
unique and network changes should be planned accordingly.

Indoor and outdoor design

It is extremely important to have consistency in the indoor and outdoor design to ensure indoor cells are covering inside and
outdoor cells outside and that handovers from one to another are performed seamlessly, at the right signal strength and
quality levels and at the correct physical locations.

To guarantee everything works as per the design often site visits are needed to adjust the thresholds and to ensure outdoor
cells are not interfering with the indoor cells and vice versa.

Physical design

In the de nition of the physical solution the key tasks are correct antenna distribution and selection of the antenna type
depending on the frequencies and technologies selected. Also, the distribution of the sites must be considered to prevent
interference between technologies and di erent systems, overlap, overshooting…

For indoor solutions such as football stadiums, parking garages, business or commercial areas, the physical design tends to be
complex due to space limitations and possible shadow areas that should be always omitted. These limitations make the
physical design critical!

In most cases a combination of dipole antennas, panel antennas and omnidirectional antennas should be used with the correct
power limitation and azimuths/down tilts in case of panel antennas.… 4/11
11/13/2017 Challenges and Strategies for Mobile Network Operators in Handling Voice and Data Traffic During Mass Events – 3dB Consult

Figure 2: Example of dipole and panel antenna installation in MCE MONT OLIMPIC, Spain

It is not unusual, especially when there is not enough space for the installation, that shared physical elements (antennas,
feeders) must be used. Physical sharing can be both, between same operator’s di erent technologies or between di erent
operators’ technologies. In these cases, speci cally selected combiners, diplexers/triplexers must be used, adjusting the
physical system to compensate the extra losses and electrical delay, that sometimes must be corrected with the installation of
ampli ers near antenna, for example tower mounted ampli ers.

Logical design
As part of the Base station design, initial logical design must be de ned according to expected capacity, power and resource
demand. In case of a mass event it is extremely important to prepare a precise tra c estimation for triggering the necessary
support actions – ordering licenses to increase the capacity based on the tra c forecast, increasing resource availability or
setting guidelines for the proper distribution of the resources.

High capacity and access storm handling features

On top of the network physical and logical design it is equally important to make use of the high capacity and access storm handling features that are
available for the particular vendor equipment. Again, these features are not universal, so while some generalisations can be made and common sense
can be applied it is still imminent to trial (test) the behaviour of the feature using different parameter values.

Figure 3: Optional features deployment

Following is a list of aspects to be reviewed as minimum for di erent mobile technologies when deploying high load scenarios.


Dimensioning of CCCH Channels… 5/11
11/13/2017 Challenges and Strategies for Mobile Network Operators in Handling Voice and Data Traffic During Mass Events – 3dB Consult

review of PDCCH

SDCCH channels (Ericsson) and PDTCH, SDCCH channels (Huawei).


Review SFs, tti2ms, CPICH (Ericsson rules and Huawei rules)

load sharing configuration

power control channel configuration

hsdpaUser configuration

Dual carrier, Neighbour Relation, BasebandPool


Common channel configuration and dimensioning


T302 timer

number of RLC transmissions

scheduling Algorithm

Load Based Access Barring

Dynamic Load Control

Real time monitoring

Just as important as the preparation phase is the KPI monitoring throughout the complete duration of the mass event. It is
extremely vital not only to monitor the KPI’s, but also to be ready to take corrective actions in case of KPI degradations. It is not
uncommon to have to adjust parameterisation during the mass event, because tra c pro les can di er or alter from one event
to another or even during the same event.

As part of 3dB consult mass event handling service all unexpected problems and degradations that a ect the quality during the
event are solved instantly.

3dB consult owns a proprietary tool speci cally developed for real time performance monitoring that allows event KPIs
monitoring in real time. The EMT (Events Monitoring Tool) allows real time network monitoring, analysis and reporting. The 3dB
consult EMT provides two views: Management & Technician.

Usual set of monitored KPIs for Special Events includes:

2G system:

•Voice CSSR and resource congestion (TCH, SDCCH, etc.)

•Cell unavailability and its in uence on neighbour sites

3G system:

•CSSR for Voice &Packet (RRC & RAB) by monitoring congestion (UL/DL CE, DL Codes, DL Power, etc.)

•Cell unavailability and its in uence on neighbour sites… 6/11
11/13/2017 Challenges and Strategies for Mobile Network Operators in Handling Voice and Data Traffic During Mass Events – 3dB Consult

4G system:


•Cell unavailability and its in uence on neighbour sites 

Major focus is put on nodes with greater impact on event area.

Cell/Site KPI alarm thresholds are de ned and agreed in advance for each project/event with the operator’s quality assurance
team. The following table gives an example of the thresholds currently used in one of the on-going projects managed by 3dB

Figure 4: KPI alarm thresholds

Whenever one of the KPI alarm thresholds de ned at Site level is reached, the related 2G & 3G & 4G recovery actions & process
tasks are taken to recover the degradation on impacted sites.

Sequential actions of processes and con guration changes are speci ed to mitigate each degradation type. Sequences are
di erentiated by technology, vendor, KPI and degradation cause. As an example:

Figure 5: Actions plan after degradations

Post event analysis

Once the event is over and pre-event settings are restored, it is common to deliver a report with all changes applied during the
event, di erent from the pre-loaded con guration/ parameters/features settings. As standard, the report includes degradation
level and time information as well as actions type, value and the time when changes were loaded in the network.… 7/11
11/13/2017 Challenges and Strategies for Mobile Network Operators in Handling Voice and Data Traffic During Mass Events – 3dB Consult

Also, a post mortem analysis is prepared which includes KPIs evolution and degradations, degradation causes, outside factors
or external causes’ identi cation and possible improvement actions to be implemented in the same or other events for the

Comparison of the KPI values achieved in the event will be done against reference (same event on previous year, a similar
event at the same site during the current year and the same period in the week before the event) and against the quality
objectives de ned for the event.

Statistical indicators are based on the main KPI and always oriented to customer experience: availability, CSSR, DCR, blocking
tra c and throughput.

The post mortem analysis should include a feature impact analysis and proposals for improvements.

A standard report consists of:

•2G/3G/4G – Preparation Follow up: HW and SW con guration, Dimensioning/ Upgrade proposal, Upgrades Deployment
Follow-up, Parameterisation Follow-Up

•2G/3G/4G – Hourly KPI: A separate sheet for each technology including Availability, Tra c, DCR, CSSR CS and PS, Block
rate, Congestions Failures, TPUT, Users.

•2G/3G/4G – Daily KPI: Day aggregated values.

•2G/3G/4G – Parameters detail: Parameters changes previous, during and post 
the event in all technologies. 
Event result
is calculated based on the Q threshold previously agreed and classi ed as OK, KO or BLACK. The following table shows a
possible KPI SLA for event result evaluation: 

Figure 6: Mass event KPI SLA evaluation

Adjusting network settings to match the expected tra c pro le of mass events is a must for every operator who wants to
ensure best user experience for their subscribers and most e cient network usage during these events. It is vital to study the
tra c from previous years and to estimate the actual number of participants to be able to manage the network changes

It is recommended to have several ‘standard’ event con gurations based on the expected number of people attending the
event. This ensures that a similar approach is taken every time event preparations are made. Procedure standardisation allows
to deliver network optimisation with best quality, to have continuity in the process and to draw conclusions from the
optimisation changes executed.

11/13/2017 Challenges and Strategies for Mobile Network Operators in Handling Voice and Data Traffic During Mass Events – 3dB Consult








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11/13/2017 Challenges and Strategies for Mobile Network Operators in Handling Voice and Data Traffic During Mass Events – 3dB Consult

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