Why do service outages happen?

author: MedUX

Why do service outages happen?

Can you imagine not being able to send an important message because WhatsApp fell down? Or suddenly, while you’re watching your favorite show on Netflix, the platform gets stuck? It’s not hard to imagine it, because this kind of things happen many times.

Platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter or Netflix have sometimes suffered some outages and have made the alarm bells ring. Last year, Twitter suffered a technical failure that did not allow posting worldwide, and Netflix also went down for their subscribers, who were having issues of streaming content across a number of devices.

In fact, the most recent and well-known one occurred last January, when WhatsApp stopped working and its services experienced issues globally, leaving its users unable to chat. However, after about one hour of service interruption, the instant messaging application restored the service.

When a platform suffers a failure, all alarm bells ring, especially among Internet users. But… what is hidden behind the causes of an outage? When a disruption happens, the service is unavailable for users, but they don’t really know why: Is it because of the devices they are using? It has to do with the service provider? Or is it a general problem of Internet connection?

It is key to have real-time capabilities to measure Users’ Experience and get ahead of any issues that put customers’ retention, loyalty and reliability at risk.

In this regard, MedUX continuously measures Quality of Experience as perceived by end-users and offers Advanced Analytics to assess and improve the Quality of the Service. This way, our clients, telecom providers, can leverage their customers’ satisfaction, anticipate the performance of their services and act in advance.

MedUX enables the identification of both network and service issues, including the user experience with OTT services such as WhatsApp. In the following, the recent global WhatsApp outage is illustrated through reliability measurements performed with MedUX ecosystem.

WhatsApp disruption on January 22, 2019. Source: MedUX Analytics Portal

There may be several reasons for network outages, and we have identified some of the most recurring ones:

  • Network Congestion: It is the reduced quality of service that mostly occurs when too many users are trying to access a network at the same time, in a certain geographical area. Typical effects include queueing delay, packet loss or the blocking of new connections. The circuit quality may gridlock or deteriorate causing the network collapse and impede users from making an efficient use of the network. Operators and services should be able to face this kind of problems in their networks and detect them at early stages to solve it as soon as possible.
  • Link failures from the service provider: This failure happens when the link between the devices, from which users are trying to access the network, and the server suffers an interruption. Probably link failures occur due to low converging time, previously allocated delay and bandwidth, and iterative loops which degrade the performance of the network.
  • Speed fluctuation from the Internet provider: This occurs when the real connection speed varies, and it may suffer huge drops. This irregular speed rising- falling flow can be caused by network congestion, but sometimes, it is due to a lack of optimization of the provider’s services.
  • Equipment failure: Not grounding or protecting the equipment from surges can leave it vulnerable to circuit damage. Furthermore, lockups and overloads can also cause equipment failure. This technical issue can be quickly solved with an updated and appropriate hardware setup.
  • Operation error: Whether it’s from incorrect IP Addresses, incorrect wiring or firewalls installation, operation errors can occur.
  • Routing problems: Sometimes, in complex networks, routing protocols don’t repair connectivity issues the way they should, or worse, they can create outages of their own that wouldn’t have occurred in a simpler network.

Outages and other technical problems can happen at any time and the service providers and telecom companies should be prepared in order to detect such possible errors and solve them on time, but above all: anticipate them.

Thus, they can guarantee the best Quality of Service possible, take informed decisions, reduce risks and keep their customers happy. In MedUX, we test services such as WhatsApp, Twitter or Netflix (among many others) from the end-user perspective, we detect these events and help service providers to enhance their value proposition by anticipating network performance problems.

MedUX not only enables analysis and reactive decision making, but also allows to anticipate service degradation thanks to Predictive Analytics. MedUX goes beyond QoE measurement. In MedUX we are able to establish accurate insights into customer behavior and reveal key customer trends and correlations while predicting the likelihood of network and business events.

By knowing where those future incidents may come from and how to approach them, telecom operators are obtaining an incredibly valuable information to prevent and solve future outages, avoid users’ complaints and differentiate their services from their competitors. Shortly we will share further insights about our Predictive Analytics capabilities.

If you are interested in knowing more, please contact us here: info@medux.com.


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