What is Quality of Service (QoS)?


What is Quality of Service (QoS)?

April 26, 2022

Quality of Service (QoS) encompasses the tools and technologies that enable telco operators to ensure networks, applications, and services are highly performant regardless of network capacity. By giving network admins visibility into important metrics and allowing them to allocate bandwidth to mission-critical applications as traffic ebbs and flows, QoS technologies ensure that high-priority networks and services operate as designed and transmission remains quick.

Historically, operators have struggled with assuring network QoS. As we move further into the 5G era, these struggles will inevitably compound, as telco companies generate, store, and analyze substantially more data than ever before.

The good news is QoS assurance is attainable when network admins deliver their applications and services on top of a powerful data layer that’s purpose-built to support 5G applications.

Keep reading to learn more about:

  • Important QoS terminology, 
  • Why QoS is a critical area of focus for modern operators, 
  • How QoS works, and 
  • Three key capabilities that make it easy for telco companies to optimize QoS in the age of 5G.

Quality of Service Terms to Know

If you’re new to QoS, it’s worth familiarizing yourself with common terms you’ll come across as you begin focusing on how to improve network and application performance. Some of the more common QoS terms include:

  • Bandwidth – the maximum amount of data that can flow across a network at any given time (also known as throughput).
  • Latency – the time it takes for data to move from one place in a network to another. The more latency there is in a network, the longer it will take to move packets from point A to point B.
  • Jitter – the difference between how fast data packets move across a network. When jitter is high, voice and video transmissions are choppier.
  • Error rate – measures how effective the network is at reliably sending information; the lower the error rate, the better.
  • Packet loss – occurs when some data packets don’t reach their intended destination due to network failure or network congestion.
  • Availability – refers to the uptime and overall reliability of a network. Highly available networks can accommodate traffic and respond to requests as designed in most circumstances.

Now that you have a better idea of some of the common QoS terms, let’s turn our attention to some of the benefits QoS delivers to telco operators.

Why Does Quality of Service Matter?

More and more telco operators are investing in QoS technologies to improve business outcomes. Here are some of the top benefits of QoS:

  1. Stronger application performance. When you can maintain a high QoS, users benefit from applications and services that operate as they’re supposed to. QoS enables employees to work productively around the clock while ensuring customers have positive experiences. On the flip side, when application performance degrades, worker productivity grinds to a halt, and customers are frustrated because they can’t use services as they expect to.
  2. Decreased network congestion. Rather than letting low-priority traffic clog up your network and throttle your most important services, QoS enables you to ensure the highest priority traffic flows seamlessly across your network. 
  3. Optimized network utilization. By allowing telco operators to make policies that prioritize certain services over other ones, it’s possible to ensure that the most important services use the most expensive infrastructure.
  4. Better margins. When you can assure a high QoS, you can make the most out of your existing network infrastructure. Instead of buying additional hardware to accommodate more bandwidth, admins can ensure their networks run as efficiently as possible, lowering their footprint and boosting profitability.

How Does QoS Work?

At a high level, QoS contains two chief components:

  1. Classification, which involves marking packets and traffic to ensure the network knows how to prioritize and rank data intelligently.
  2. Queuing, or the process of holding data in a buffer zone based on classification and prioritization.

Each telco operator will create its own policies to define traffic classes and determine which to prioritize.

How to Optimize QoS in the Age of 5G

While QoS has always been challenging, telco operators have their work cut out for them in the 5G era thanks to the need for real-time communications, video streaming, and data-driven applications. Luckily, optimizing QoS is a breeze when you invest in QoS technologies designed for the modern world.

As you begin searching for QoS technologies, here are three key features to be on the lookout for.  

1. Network slicing

Network slicing refers to dividing physical networks into smaller subnetworks that support different functions. By writing policies that classify and prioritize different types of traffic and using network slicing to split up available infrastructure, telco operators can improve QoS while utilizing the full capacity of their networks.

2. Convergent charging

Convergent charging enables telcos to control services and manage all customer accounts in real time. Leading convergent charging systems authenticate subscribers, notify users when they approach their account balance threshold, terminate service connectivity when balances are depleted, and entice users to engage with services at the best times to boost margins. In terms of QoS, convergent charging ensures telco operators can bill customers at different rates for different usage.

3. A real-time data platform

Making the most of 5G starts with being able to make intelligent, data-driven decisions with lightning-fast precision. It’s not enough to act in seconds; you need to be able to act in less than 10 milliseconds. And that starts with having an active real-time data platform designed specifically to help enterprise-grade applications complete the decisioning process within single-digit milliseconds. With the right data platform in place, telcos can optimize QoS and take full advantage of 5G—and whatever comes next.

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