WiFi 6 Will Have A Big Impact On Quality Of Experience

Wi-Fi has become a ubiquitous feature of our lives over the three decades since it was first introduced. Many advances have been made during this time, such as the successful opening up of both 2.4GHz and 5.7GHz bands for use in all Wi-Fi enabled devices. Today the Wi-FI industry is shipping over 3 billion chipsets annually, with 5 billion Wi-FI devices currently in homes around the world . The global installed device base is estimated to exceed twice the entire population of the Earth by 2022.  

With 70% of data traffic on cellular mobile devices carried out by Wi-Fi, the proliferation of IoT (Internet of Things) devices, and the growth of Wi-Fi dependent services such as streaming video, our current Wi-Fi infrastructure is starting to reach its limit, especially when used in high-density environments like apartment buildings, airports and public spaces.  

In April 2020, the FCC officially approved 6GHz band use in the US, allowing Wi-Fi to extend its reach further and faster onto 1200 MHz of radio spectrum. This momentous decision will triple the available spectrum, opening the door wider for broadband services and innovation far into the future. Coined Wi-Fi 6E, this historical advancement will enhance the entire wireless experience.  

Wi-Fi has been recognized as a foundational technology for IoT, as well as an important feature in bringing communication networks to underserved areas, and a great contributor to national and global economies. Access to the 6GHz spectrum will enable Wi-Fi to continue delivering the vast innovations and socioeconomic benefits it is bringing to the market today.  

“Opening up blocks of 6 GHz bandwidth for Wi-Fi definitely supports growth of Wi-Fi in the next decade. Many more larger-bandwidth channels can be simultaneously deployed to enable data heavy communication and back and front haul of multi-node wireless networks, and increase immunity to interference over all as a Wi-Fi system. As a side benefit, Wi-Fi signal location accuracy can significantly improve and open up paths for new applications,” said  Tuncay Cil, Chief Strategy Officer of ASSIA. “ASSIA will be actively supporting standardization and commercialization of new capabilities of 6 GHz in a vendor-neutral fashion across the Wi-Fi ecosystem.” 

Wi-FI 6E will serve as a complement to the upcoming release of the 5G cellular network. At a 5.9GHz to 7.1GHz range in a 1.2GHz radio spectrum, Wi-Fi 6E has access to nearly 1.5 times the amount of frequencies to transmit on the fastest 5G cellular connections (3.5GHz on 800MHz). This translates into faster data rates, triple additional spectrum and bandwidth, lower latency, and massive capacity. 

Opening up blocks of 6 GHz bandwidth for Wi-Fi will continue to support the growth of Wi-Fi in decades to come. A lot more larger-bandwidth channels can be simultaneously deployed to enable data-heavy communication, as well as backhaul and fronthaul of multi-node wireless networks. There will be increased immunity to interference overall in the Wi-Fi system. This new bandwidth opens up greater location accuracy which will significantly improve and open up paths for applications. ASSIA will be actively supporting standardization and commercialization of the new 6 GHz capabilities in a vendor-neutral fashion across the Wi-Fi ecosystem. 

These recent WiFi 6E enhancements, along with the promising future of a 5G cellular spectrum will be giving users a much improved range of wireless options. Despite the many challenges the world faces, we have a lot to look forward to when it comes to wireless.  


Mitigation practices for improving home broadband services

During the first two months of the COVID-19 crisis we monitored traffic patterns on broadband lines from different points of presence (i.e. CPEs, copper or optical fiber local loops), while helping operators provide solutions to mitigate the impact of higher traffic on existing infrastructure.

This effort revealed some interesting insights and uncovered some effective mitigation strategies that operators can take to improve the customer quality-of-experience.

Home-based traffic patterns are now very different

We compiled usage data by combining feedback from key operators as well as running direct measurements at DSLAM/OLT and CPE points using ASSIA’s Expresse and CloudCheck products.  

Here is what we uncovered: 

  1. A steep rise in upload traffic with the upload-to-download traffic ratio increasing more than 60%. The peak you can see in late December is due to the impact of video calls around Christmas Day.
  2. Customer usage patterns have shifted. With video conferencing happening from home during the week, what used to be weekend traffic profiles are now taking place throughout the week.
  3. Upstream traffic levels cross the long-term average level 4-hours earlier than before, changing to align to a workday schedule.

Congestion 

Increased traffic demand will often create congestion. We are detecting a lot of congestion at the Wi-Fi level which can only be corrected at the access node. ASSIA Expresse is a valuable tool for operators to help mitigate this, especially since upstream congestion correlates to poor perceived quality and is a big factor for increased customer churn. 

  • ASSIA CloudCheck detected spikes in upstream congestion. Further analysis found that 40% of customers with 2 upstream congestion detections in the prior 7 days had rated the reliability of their service as poor. This negatively impacted the operator’s Net Promoter Score versus its competitor. 
  • The percentage of customers experiencing upstream congestion has almost doubled for lines with high upstream rates. For lines with low upstream rates (1Mbps and below), the percentage of lines experiencing upstream congestion was already high and degraded further. 

Mitigation strategies

These are a sampling of the mitigation strategies that our clients could use to cope with the situation:

  • Analyze lines capable of higher uplink traffic with ASSIA Expresse and then change profile optimization logic. This task can be implemented on selected services and then be generalized to all services.
  • Create a capability to switch between a conservative and aggressive optimization logic where some customers can be upgraded outside of their SPs, then add lines to higher-tier services and upsell customers into those services. The two versions of the service, one normal and one “on steroids,” can be switched for customers through ASSIA Expresse.
  • Launch a market campaign to increase rates based on a previous ASSIA Expresse service analysis of the whole operator network plus the definition and upload of new profiles.
  • Create a new service based on identification of lines capable of carrying a higher-tier service by utilizing the ASSIA Expresse service recommender and creating new profiles.

Conclusion

The impact of COVID-19 has changed internet usage patterns in dramatic ways, creating headaches for operators, but also significant new business opportunities for those that embrace the changes and put into place technologies that help them identify problems, design new strategies to improve service and encourage upselling to customers who now need to consume more.