Infrastructure | ITU-T Standards | Quality/Performance | Standards
November 4, 2020

How ITU standards address service quality from a regulator’s perspective

By ITU News

The events of 2020 have brought into focus the importance of reliable, always available ICT services. ITU standards for ICT quality assessment support government and industry’s work together to achieve this reliability.

Regulators are playing an important part in the standardization work of ITU-T Study Group 12, ITU’s expert group for ‘performance, quality of service (QoS) and quality of experience (QoE)’.

The quality-assessment standards developed ITU-T Study Group 12 address the full range of ICT services, networks and devices – from speech, audio and video over fixed and mobile networks to emerging services in fields such as VR, cloud gaming, 360-degree immersive experience, fintech, and smart mobility.

Working together in ITU standardization enables regulators and industry players to develop sound Key Performance Indicators for service quality.

Developed and agreed by consensus – driven by contributions from regulators, industry and academia – ITU quality-assessment standards aim to provide all market players with a common view of service quality, supporting broader efforts to build user confidence and trust in ICTs.

Regulators from developing countries are especially well represented in ITU-T Study Group 12.

The Quality of Service Development Group within ITU-T Study Group 12 offers a platform dedicated to dialogue around QoS and QoE standards’ contribution to ICT development. The group ran a series of open webinars in place of its annual August meeting, with regulators leading the discussions. Webinar archives >

Service quality strategies for regulators

Recent years have seen a marked increase in regulators’ participation in ITU standardization work for performance, QoS and QoE. 

ITU membership affirmed their support for this trend at the ITU World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly 2016 (WTSA-16) in Hammamet, Tunisia, with the adoption of WTSA Resolution 95 “ITU-T initiatives to raise awareness on best practices and policies related to service quality”.

ITU E.805 “Strategies to establish quality regulatory frameworks” is a new type of ITU standard addressing ICT service quality from a regulator’s perspective. Released in December 2019, ITU E.805 responds directly to WTSA Resolution 95.

ITU E.805 covers subscription voice, video or IP-based communication. It provides a reference on service quality regulatory frameworks suitable for assessing, comparing and giving transparency to the quality achieved by a service, quality as perceived by the end-user, and end-users’ degree of satisfaction with service providers.

ITU E.805 takes a high-level view of regulatory approaches to QoS and QoE as well as enforcement strategies to improve quality where required. The standard also focuses on strategies to empower end-users to make informed service choices based on a clear view of the service quality on offer.

ITU E.805.1 “QoS operational strategy for improved regulatory supervision on providers of mobile telecommunication services” achieved first-stage approval (‘determination’) in September 2020.

ITU E.805.1 builds on the high-level approaches described by ITU E.805 to provide in-depth recommendations on the operations required to implement quality assessment and enforcement strategies.

The standard aims to help regulators achieve their mobile QoS goals at reduced regulatory effort and improved operational efficiency. It will support regulators in increasing the cost-effectiveness of mobile QoS supervision and the speed of the QoS assessment and enforcement loop, without compromising on the reliability of QoS assessment outcomes.

Monitoring the performance of IP-based services

Regulators leading QoS measurement campaigns play an important part in the development and implementation of ITU standards to monitor the performance of IP-based services and the QoS of mobile networks.

Regulators benefit from a key 2019 revision of the ITU standard for IP service performance assessment, ITU Y.1540 “Internet protocol data communication service – IP packet transfer and availability performance parameters”. ITU Y.1540 defines IP-layer capacity parameters in ways that cater to performance assessment, also providing requirements for methods of measurement of IP-layer capacity. A new Supplement (ITU Y.Suppl.60) provides guidance on the interpretation of measurements taken with the ITU Y.1540 methodology and also describes an open-source implementation of the methodology.

ITU E.806 “Measurement campaigns, monitoring systems and sampling methodologies to monitor the quality of service in mobile networks”, released in June 2019, describes a baseline framework of best practices for measuring QoS in mobile networks. It provides a high-level overview of measurement campaigns, the characteristics and requirements of associated monitoring systems, and general recommendations on data processing and sampling methodologies. 

ITU E.804 “Quality of service aspects for popular services in mobile networks”, released in February 2014, defines QoS parameters and their computation for popular services in mobile networks, services such as voice and video communication and streamed media. The standard summarizes the fundamentals of QoS from the user’s perspective. A new ITU E.804.1 Application Guide to the ITU E.804 QoS metrics, aiming to support the QoS assessment activities of both regulators and service providers, achieved first-stage approval (‘consent’) in September 2020.

Crowdsourcing QoS

User devices and the ICT equipment serving homes and businesses – and associated software – are becoming faster, more powerful, and better able to perform data collection.

ITU E.812 “Crowdsourcing approach for the assessment of end-to-end quality of service in fixed and mobile broadband networks”, released in May 2020, describes “the crowdsourcing approach” to end-to-end QoS assessment, the trend towards collecting QoS data directly from end-user devices such as mobile phones and customer premise equipment.

The development of ITU E.812 was initiated by regulators and advanced together with quality-assessment experts from network operators, vendors, analytics companies, and academia.

For regulators, the collected data can guide efforts to raise consumer awareness around service quality and provide an enabling environment for improvements in network infrastructure. Countries spanning large landmasses are also interested in the potential for crowdsourcing to limit the need for QoS personnel to travel to remote areas. 

Crowdsourcing delivers significantly more data points. More data leads to more technical parameters to inform QoS assessment, and more potential to improve the reliability and representativeness of assessment results.

ITU E.812 describes how different approaches to crowdsourcing yield different views of QoS. It outlines the different crowdsourcing approaches available to assess end‑to‑end QoS on both fixed and mobile broadband networks, approaches without need for modifications to existing hardware and software.

A soon-to-be-published Amendment to ITU E.812 adds appendices providing a detailed view of crowdsourcing use cases.

To learn more about ITU-T Study Group 12, visit the group’s homepage

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How ITU standards address service quality from a regulator’s perspective

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