What’s the real value of an SLA?

Gwenn Larsson, Telenor Connexion The blog author is Gwenn Larsson of Telenor Connexion

OK, so I know the definition of SLA is Service Level Agreement – and I know that the purpose is to encourage suppliers to live up to the performance requirements of their customers, says Telenor Connexion’s Gwenn Larsson (pictured). And in some cases with business- and life-critical M2M solutions it’s really important that the service works when it’s needed.

Yes, I understand that concept and the need for SLAs, but what I can’t understand is why customers that are doing RFQs (requests for quotations) or inquiries for connected services are asking for SLAs for the radio networks. Do they really think that a communication services provider, mobile network operator (MNO) or any MV(Virtual)NOs are going to make their radio networks or the radio networks of their roaming partners perform better because a new telematics or M2M service is being launched by one of their customers with strict SLAs?

Radio networks are as they are, and each MNO is constantly trying to balance investment vs. performance. And in general, GSM radio networks in the developed world are of very good quality where coverage exists. Downtimes of more than a few minutes are rare – although we know that they do occur.

What is important, however, is that a connected services provider (many times an MNO) is able to point to a good track record of identifying and solving radio network problems and other network problems – even in advance of their end customers noticing a negative effect. Of course, there are always going to be rare instances where radio networks fail. And if you happen to have an M2M or telematics service that is affected by this what you really need is:

1. A connectivity supplier that has a ‘back-up’ roaming partner that can deliver the service instead.
2. A proactive service and support desk that can notify you of a potential problem, what they are doing to help fix it, and regular updates on the progress.
3. A ‘techy’ and skilled support team that can come up with alternative solutions or fixes to help with any given radio network problem.

What you don’t need is a contract that awards you EUR10,000 for a few hours of downtime based on a random SLA of 99 percentiles of performance – because this isn’t really going to help your customers keep their ‘peace of mind’ or enable the connected alarm to send an SMS to the fire brigade when the barbecue inadvertently sets your home ablaze.

Maybe I sound a bit cynical now… but the truth is I do believe in SLAs where they make sense. How about the service components of an M2M or telematics offering? Every good connectivity platform should have SLAs and SLAs that are backed up by redundant servers, HLRs, gateways, etc. and be over zealous with quality control mechanisms. This is where we focus – albeit now through the use of the Ericsson Device Connection Platform (DCP.)

The other area where Telenor Connexion focuses heavily is on the after-sales support – keeping our high level of knowledge and competence on a 24/7 basis dedicated exclusively to our M2M customers. It’s a very proactive group. In fact, one of our customers just emailed a bit of thanks to us. Thanks for keeping them better informed of the radio network problems in a certain European country over Easter weekend than their home country MNO. This is the type of service that is hard to put a value on. But I know for sure that it’s worth more than a few hundred or thousand Euros in penalties.


9 IoT applications that will change everything

Posted on: September 1, 2021

Whether you are a future-minded CEO, tech-driven CEO or IT leader, you’ve come across the term IoT before. It’s often used alongside superlatives regarding how it will revolutionize the way you work, play, and live. But is it just another buzzword, or is it the as-promised technological holy grail? The truth is that Internet of

Read more

Which IoT Platform 2021? IoT Now Enterprise Buyers’ Guide

Posted on: August 30, 2021

There are several different parts in a complete IoT solution, all of which must work together to get the result needed, write IoT Now Enterprise Buyers’ Guide – Which IoT Platform 2021? authors Robin Duke-Woolley, the CEO and Bill Ingle, a senior analyst, at Beecham Research. Figure 1 shows these parts and, although not all

Read more

CAT-M1 vs NB-IoT – examining the real differences

Posted on: June 21, 2021

As industry players look to provide the next generation of IoT connectivity, two different standards have emerged under release 13 of 3GPP – CAT-M1 and NB-IoT.

Read more

IoT and home automation: What does the future hold?

Posted on: June 10, 2020

Once a dream, iot home automation is slowly but steadily becoming a part of daily lives around the world. In fact, it is believed that the global market for smart home automation will reach $40 billion by 2020.

Read more

Actility and Helium Network announce roaming integration to scale IoT coverage

Posted on: October 18, 2021

Actility, the provider of IoT connectivity solutions and LPWA technology, and Helium have launched a roaming integration partnership, unlocking affordable and ubiquitous coverage for millions of IoT devices.

Read more

Future of data integration: 2022 and beyond

Posted on: October 18, 2021

Traditional methods including manual creation of scripts, scrubbing the data, and later loading it into a data warehouse or ETL, (extract-transform-load) was used to integrate data from different sources. These methods were adopted in the era of resource constraints and have now become very time-intensive, expensive, and error-prone, says Yash Mehta, an IoT and big

Read more