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A higher grade of service for teleworkers

Philip Bednarz
Executive Vice President of Engineering & Operations

Posted on April 21, 2021

We have established that in the collaborative work-from-home environment, poor connectivity impacts not just a single home worker, but rather it has a multiplier effect that impacts the effectiveness of the overall team. Introducing Workput | The Equipe IT admin panel

Equipe provides a set of tools not found in a typical residential service that work together to provide a higher-grade of service for the home worker.

First, Equipe provides the capability to select a set of work-from-home devices using a simple smartphone application. The connectivity of these devices is prioritized above residential devices during work-from-home hours on both the WiFi and broadband networks.

On the WiFi side, the system automatically steers residential and telework devices to access points and bands best suited for prioritized performance. The system also establishes airtime policies that ensure work-from-home devices get sufficient throughput.

Furthermore, the user can give simple “thumbs up”/ “thumbs down” feedback on performance. That feedback can be signaled either through the Equipe smartphone app or via plugins on popular collaboration platforms. The system takes this user feedback and evaluates quality-of-service parameters in real-time to make further adjustments.

Here is one of the places where the Workput concept comes in. Introducing Workput

Rather than just looking at the QoS parameters on a home-by-home basis, the platform is integrated with APIs from popular collaboration tools such that the system knows when a work-from-home device is online with other work-from-home devices. When one user gives a “thumbs down” on performance, the system checks all collaborating users to see if something needs to be changed on their home network. This is an important part of optimizing for team effectiveness. Sometimes my bad QoE is caused by issues on your network. Pinpointing and resolving those issues is key to improving Workput.

Equipe also protects the user’s QoE on the broadband side. The system manages a secondary WAN interface which can provide broadband redundancy or load balancing via either an LTE modem or secondary wireline interface. The use of the secondary WAN is optimized to maximize Workput while managing bandwidth costs of the secondary connection.

All of these capabilities are visible and supervised through an IT administrator dashboard.


QoS Management for Workput Optimization

Ken Kerpez
ASSIA Ph.D., IEEE Fellow

Posted on March 30, 2021

Equipe

The importance of work from home has risen vastly over the past year, and this trend looks to be here to stay. While a user may ignore occasional blips in their “for fun” Internet, work from home requires a whole new level of network performance. Ensuring Wi-Fi QoS is arguably the most important component of such performance, and ASSIA Equipe is an ideal system to handle this component.

Equipe is the industry’s first platform for remotely managing residential connections to ensure connectivity and performance that enables productive employees. Within the home, Equipe runs on certified Wi-Fi gateway hardware and Wi-Fi extenders, in conjunction with a cloud-based management system and a smartphone application that the employee interacts with.

Equipe collects and analyzes many Wi-Fi performance-related parameters. ASSIA applies our deep knowledge of communication systems to machine learning algorithms that use these parameters in Equipe to determine “Workput.” Workput is an AI model that learns the true impact of an individual’s bad connectivity across an entire team.

The Equipe hardware continually reports status and is controlled through a set of cloud services which include the Workput predictor and monitor, Wi-Fi device management, including telework device prioritization, Multi-WAN management, including controls and policies for QoS, failover and load balancing, and a recommendation engine linked to upgraded services to improve employee productivity. Ensuring work from home prioritization for QoS is crucial to high Workput.

QoS Management

Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Wireless Multimedia (WMM)™  provides the over-the-air mechanisms to support prioritization, including prioritization of work from home. Equipe needs to assign WMM priorities, but how to do this?

Wi-Fi CERTIFIED QoS Management™ simplifies the prioritization and management of latency-sensitive traffic in Wi-Fi networks. Program features enable IP data flows to be classified and mapped to one of four quality of service (QoS) access categories defined by Wi-Fi WMM to help ensure that traffic for real-time applications and services is inserted into queues with higher priority, resulting in a better experience for end-users.

Wi-Fi QoS Management supports Differentiated Service Code Point (DSCP) mapping, which is a marking in the IP packet headers for managing network priority and QoS across the network. ASSIA Equipe can classify traffic and map flows into DSCP code points, whereby we identify work-related flows and assign them high priorities. Wi-Fi QoS Management then enables ASSIA Equipe to configure the mapping of IP-layer DSCP markings to WMM categories, enabling prioritization and ensuring QoS on Wi-Fi. Thus the essential component of priority across the Wi-Fi link is enabled by Wi-Fi QoS Management.

In addition, Equipe can similarly support Mirrored Stream Classification Service (MSCS) to ensure QoS of work applications on client devices across the Wi-Fi link.

Equipe can thus use Wi-Fi QoS Management to assign high priority and support end-to-end QoS of Workput flows across the network, particularly across the crucial Wi-Fi link. Equipe also supports other QoS mechanisms and uses QoS parameters to accurately predict a user’s QoE.

Equipe and QoS Management

In many households, Wi-Fi is shared between time-critical and performance-oriented work-related flows and more casual traffic. Equipe is managing and ensuring work-related flows to ensure high Workput.  Wi-Fi QoS Management was designed to support prioritization of these flows across the critical Wi-Fi link, and Wi-Fi QoS Management is importantly appearing at a most timely moment to enable quality for work from home. Wi-Fi QoS Management enables Equipe to take a great step forward, by prioritizing critical workflows.


How Service Providers Can Build and Scale Quality of Experience

Network architectures and subscriber demands, both to-the-home and in-the-home, continue to evolve. And rapidly. To meet the quality-of-service (QoS) and quality-of-experience (QoE) levels customers expect, ISPs must squeeze as much performance as they can out of their existing infrastructures by replacing hardware when needed and building for the future, versus rebuilding their entire networks.

Meeting modern standards and customer demand requires proactive maintenance and troubleshooting while ensuring network uptime and efficiency. That’s a lot to do at one time, and that’s why global service providers are turning to ASSIA Commande™ to deliver support and service at scale.

ASSIA Commande diagnoses, optimizes, and helps to heal the root causes of customer complaints and network issues. As internet traffic patterns and subscriber needs are quite different from what they were a year ago, Commande’s role in overseeing how the systems, devices, and links that deliver home internet and Wi-Fi services work together is critical.

Subscriber service issues, what causes them, and how to fix them

Subscribers need more from their home Wi-Fi networks, more than they’ve ever needed before. Imagine a family of four: two high-school kids on Zoom classes, a startup CEO leading a team of 50, and a therapist that uses a proprietary platform to counsel clients. Every family member downloads and uploads web traffic (for work or fun) all day and possibly until late at night. When there’s an internet hiccup, their immediate response is to troubleshoot the issue themselves, and if that doesn’t work, they call the service provider for help.

There’s a lot that can go wrong. Is an outage or a “pause” the result of what’s happening in the home, such as competing devices? Or maybe it’s an out-of-house issue, or some line is down in the neighborhood? Or perhaps it’s a middleware failure? It’s hard to diagnose the problem unless you can see into the network. ASSIA CloudCheck gives operators full network path visibility and diagnostics, from the exchange to Wi-Fi connected devices inside the home. Rather than deploy a technician, issues can be diagnosed and fixed remotely. What’s more, CloudCheck allows operations to detect and locate breakdowns before customers complain.

A research study conducted earlier this year with one of our customers showed that CloudCheck reduced call volume by 50,000 and customer churn by about 2% in 30 days. Further, an end-user application keeps subscribers up-to-date on progress with real-time information about what’s going on with their Wi-Fi and assistance with self-installation and troubleshooting, as needed.

Software-defined service for multi-platform networks

Many operators, DSL providers, and even cable companies have large-scale upgrades in the works: moving to fiber or upgrading existing copper and coaxial networks to make them reliable. Further, service providers are looking to gain flexibility and find the most suitable fiber and copper combination to deliver the best service.

But this flexibility leads to complexity in the network and introduces new challenges for optimizing service delivery—ultimately impacting subscribers’ QoS and QoE. ASSIA GPON & DSL Expresse offer a unified software-defined solution, applicable to any network deployment model, to address the complexities of deploying and operating a multi-platform FTTx network.

GPON Expresse abstracts the underlying technology and hardware so that providers have a unified view of broadband delivery. As such, operators are better able to monitor performance, optimize the networks, and detect the location of faults when (or before) they occur—from fiber damage to congestion. Utilizing machine-learning algorithms, network optimization gets more precise and smarter over time.

ASSIA Commande: The power to oversee it all—end-to-end

Think of ASSIA Commande as a cloud-based, intelligent overseer with end-to-end visibility, from network operations to the home, bringing all the components of the diverse world of Wi-Fi management together.

Commande helps service providers improve their wireless and wireline access networks’ broadband-to-the-device QoE through artificial intelligent best-practice diagnostics, analytics, and optimization. It oversees the systems, devices, and links that deliver internet and Wi-Fi service at every point. Commande is capable of diagnosing and optimizing the network and healing network issues when they occur. Further, ASSIA has built Commande to be vendor-agnostic to support service providers’ choices and accommodate emerging Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi management standards as they evolve.

Commande Delivers Tangible Results to ASSIA Customers

We have deployed Commande to a number of large telecom providers around the world. These customers employ Commande to bridge data and analysis between broadband and Wi-Fi and to get end-to-end diagnostics, recommendations, and severity classifications.

Commande offers much higher diagnostics’ accuracy because the insights are based on both DSLAM/OLT (digital-subscriber-line-access-multiplexer) data and CPE (customer premises equipment) data. Commande also mitigates the uncertainty about where issues exist by providing accurate issue detection, problem source definitions, and recommended resolutions based on all the information we collect from so many sources.

With an integrated view of the network and diagnostics, here are some of the ways customers are using Commande today:

  • Measurement
    • Customers can better understand subscribers’ behaviors, issues, and experiences​.
    • With intensive monitoring, they gain an in-depth service understanding with a high level of precision and detail.​
    • Because we capture a large volume of network usage data to feed proprietary machine-learning models, customers get deep insights into subscriber habits, which might lead to the development of new products and services
  • Control
    • We diagnose any network impairment, at any point from the central office to Wi-Fi devices​.
    • Customer care and marketing teams get full visibility on subscriber satisfaction levels and future needs.​
    • Operations and network planning teams control network resources and shape future resource requirements by observing collected data and recommendations.​
    • Field technicians have the definitive toolbox to diagnose, locate, and verify activities​.
    • Operations teams detect and locate massive breakdowns before subscribers complain.
  • Improvement
    • Automated optimization of subscriber’s wireless connectivity delivers the best QoE.
    • Detailed recommendations improve customer service by identifying needed, proactive repairs before subscribers call, which further maximizes network QoS and QoE.
  • Integration
    • We automate operating processes by integrating BSSs (business support systems) and OSSs (operation support systems) with end-to-end solution APIs​.
    • We are able to integrate customer indicators from other sources into Commande to complement QoE.​

Put it all together and Commande reduces operational costs, increases efficiencies, reduces subscriber churn rates, and maximizes customer satisfaction.

When you think about the issues operators and ISPs face when ensuring reliability and speed to home Wi-Fi users, you can see why it makes better sense to focus on improving and evolving existing performance and infrastructures, versus replacing hardware unnecessarily or overhauling entire networks.

ASSIA’s global expertise and understanding of over 100 million customer access connections—including Wi-Fi to the home—help us bring all the pieces together now and for the future.

Contact us for more information on Commande.


Survey Results: The Future Telco-Connected Home

The Future Telco-Connected Home

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Download the new survey from Omdia and Broadband Forum on the importance of greater open standards to enable service providers to protect their position in the connected home.

This report is a follow-up to a report produced in 2015 in association with the Broadband Forum entitled Efficient and Automated Smart Home Rollout. The analysis in this report is based on a quantitative service provider survey of more than 100 representatives across 19 countries, in-depth qualitative interviews with key executives from 11 service providers in Latin America, North America, Europe, and China, and existing Omdia research and data in the broadband, connected, and smart home domains.

Survey Overview

For many years broadband service providers viewed the connected home largely as a cost driver and, therefore, focused their strategies on developing cheaper hardware and driving greater operation efficiency. However, the connected home is now a far more advanced environment than it was in the early days of broadband. Over just the five years to 2020, the number of installed connected devices has doubled to 13.4 billion, and this figure will increase again by a further 70% over the next five.

It is not just the sheer number of devices that is increasing but also the applications that they are running, including ultra-HD video, cloud gaming, tele-health, and home working, all of which require a highly reliable, quality network to perform to the required standard. Managing this network is, therefore, of paramount importance, and if done well it can bring the service provider significant brand differentiation and new revenue opportunities.

Industry standards and open frameworks are vital to this success, because they remove technical barriers and better equip broadband service providers to compete with global tech and consumer electronics companies.

This report is a follow-up to a report produced in 2015 in association with the Broadband Forum entitled Efficient and Automated Smart Home Rollout. The analysis in this report is based on a quantitative service provider survey of more than 100 representatives across 19 countries, in-depth qualitative interviews with key executives from 11 service providers in Latin America, North America, Europe, and China, and existing Omdia research and data in the broadband, connected, and smart home domains.

Key findings and recommendations

Ensuring a wall-to-wall advanced Wi-Fi experience. The COVID-19 pandemic has only highlighted the importance of broadband and a good home Wi-Fi solution. Wi-Fi solutions, therefore, must now be optimized to provide the best-quality connection possible to all corners of the home. However, this is not just about throwing more hardware at the problem: in some cases this only makes the situation worse. Service providers must take a comprehensive view of the connected-home predicament and look to invest in both hardware and software platforms that will deliver the right solution to each individual customer.

Balance operational efficiency and new service development to optimize the customer experience. There are two sides to modern smart Wi-Fi platforms: one is around driving service and operational efficiency; the other is about developing and enabling new applications and services. However, this is not an either/or situation. All service providers, regardless of their market position, should look to do both, because it is only through driving service optimization and new service features that they can optimize the customer experience. The key question is how this should all be monetized, and service providers should develop an overall roadmap with a clear monetization strategy in mind.

VAS prioritization remains focused on safety and security. In terms of new value-added-services, the priority today remains on applications that bring added safety and security to the customer. Especially considering the pandemic, during which many more people are working and being educated from home, this prioritization makes perfect sense. However, service providers should also have a longer-term roadmap that means that their service portfolio will continue to evolve, unveiling new revenue opportunities over time.

Telcos’ attitude to smart home has changed, but for the better. Since Omdia carried out its last service provider connected-home survey in 2015, there has been a distinct shift in not only strategy toward the connected-home gateway but also smart home strategy. Five years ago, there was a greater focus on and optimism around developing service provider own-branded smart home solutions. Since then there has been a real shift toward more smart home enablement, working with third-party developers, with the connected-home gateway a key element of that strategy.

Help drive open standards to a better-connected world. Without greater standardization, service providers will continue to be restricted by industry fragmentation that will limit both their ability to gain scale and the pace of innovation and thus their ability to compete with global tech and consumer electronics companies. All service providers and equipment vendors should, therefore, invest time and money in driving new open standards that will help ensure broadband service providers maintain their place at the core of the future connected home.


Improving Customer QoE at Globe Telecom

Over the last several years we have seen increasing pressure on ISPs from regulators around the world to deliver on performance metrics for the services they deliver to their customers. Governments are pushing their ISPs to increase overall bandwidth across their countries, recognizing the crucial role access, speed, and Quality of Experience[1] play for competitive advantage in the digital age accelerated with the expansion of work from home adoption during the pandemic.

We are helping Globe, a leading full-service telecommunications company in the Philippines, do just that on their copper broadband networks that utilize multiple DSLAM vendors and DSL technologies while they continue to expand their fiber networks. Customer experience is vital in this day & age where customers are dependent on their ISP provider to deliver a reliable and stable internet service at home.

Globe selected ASSIA DSL Expresse for managing the performance of their xDSL network nationwide to improve their existing xDSL services because of DSL Expresse’s hardware-agnostic approach, advanced diagnostics, and data-driven optimization. These allowed Globe to identify and maximize DSL lines while maintaining a good customer experience in terms of speed and stability. Its proven track record of managing over 100M DSL lines for service providers globally, was also a key consideration especially as Globe embarked in its major network transformation to bring about improvements through its 3-pronged strategy for its network upgrades and expansion, which includes aggressive cell site builds, upgrading its cell sites to 4G/LTE/5G using many different frequencies, and fast-tracking the fiberization of Filipino homes nationwide. Our partnership with Globe complements its network builds through an equally aggressive modernization of its existing network infrastructure.

The DSLE implementation will improve the stability of customer lines, increase their bandwidth, and identify unstable lines to proactively dispatch field technicians, thus improving customer quality of experience. It also prevents churn while expansion towards fiber is underway.

Globe supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal No. 9 which highlights the roles of infrastructure and innovation as crucial drivers of economic growth and development. Globe is committed to upholding the 10 United Nations Global Compact principles and 10 UN SDGs.

[1]  Quality of Experience is defined as the overall experience resulting from improvements in bandwidth, access, speed, latency, throughput, and connectivity for broadband services to devices at home.

 


Pulling the Pieces Together: A Look Back at 2020

David Stevenson
ASSIA CRO. BS in Physics and Electrical Engineering from the University of Sydney.

Posted on January 13, 2021

2020 was not the year anyone anticipated. The operational impact of the pandemic on our customers and their subscribers has been unprecedented.

As we look back on the last 12 months, there were incredible demands and significant progress. Our focus has been, and will always be, to ensure the highest quality-of-experience for ISP subscribers who depend on their services to live, work, and stay connected.

Here’s a rundown of our contributions last year.

We adjusted our focus based on the pandemic’s impact on network traffic patterns and connectivity.

When work-from-home and school-from-home mandates emerged in March, we published a report noting a significant change in Wi-Fi traffic volume and usage patterns. Wi-Fi upstream traffic increased by 80% and was occurring throughout the week, not just on the weekends as before.

By April, average monthly internet usage grew to 402.8 GB per household, a 47% increase from the previous year. Over the months to come, daily internet usage exceeded the highest usage peaks of 2019. With the heavy upstream demand from video conferencing and traffic rising faster than the infrastructure could handle, 52.9% of Americans reported experiencing monthly connectivity problems.

We quickly recognized that this “new normal” would become “the normal” as companies began to update their work-from-home policies. As a result, ASSIA launched EQUIPE™, the industry’s first work-from-home residential connectivity platform for SMB/enterprise IT admins to remotely monitor and improve internet connectivity for employees working from home.

We introduced a software-defined solution for next-generation broadband.

With everything going on in 2020, network operators, DSL providers, and even cable companies had large-scale initiatives in the works. They were either moving to fiber entirely or upgrading their existing copper and coaxial networks to include fiber. More reliable and less vulnerable to weather conditions, fiber networks’ speed and strength could meet increasing customer expectations for in-home Wi-Fi networks.

As consumer demand for video, video conferencing, and smart home/smart business services were exponentially growing before and during the pandemic, our GPON ExpresseⓇ played a crucial part in helping service providers deploy and operate multi-platform networks.

And as it turns out, diagnosing network issues with a software solution versus sending field technicians out when customers called proved even more valuable once stay-at-home orders were enforced.

We helped service providers troubleshoot remotely to keep everyone connected safely.

When subscribers can’t resolve issues independently, service providers experience increased support calls and possibly truck rolls to replace perfectly healthy hardware. Sometimes, these solutions don’t even fix the root cause of the performance issue.

Our GPON Expresse and CloudCheck products offer a way to improve network performance and give customer service agents full network-path visibility and diagnostics—from the exchange to connected devices inside the home. When customers call service centers, agents can troubleshoot problems and resolve them without an in-person visit.

This summer, we set out to quantify the exact impact of these offerings. We conducted a study of call data, optimization measurements, and diagnostic algorithms at one of our ISP customers. We found that we delivered $5.4 million in revenue (savings and new revenue) to our customers in just a few weeks. Beyond the savings, we significantly reduced customer churn and improved service delivery.

We understand the need for speed.

What matters to internet subscribers is that things work when needed. Beyond the user’s frustration, there are penalties for promising and not delivering. Global telecommunications regulators have adopted stringent rules requiring service providers to deliver advertised/minimum speeds, with financial consequences when commitments aren’t met.

Quality of Experience (QoE) is more than raw speed measurement — it’s about providing the internet experience that consumers require. Our CloudCheck® TruSpeed product uses cloud-based machine learning to intelligently monitor and measure broadband and Wi-Fi speeds while assessing bottlenecks. Network lines are regularly tested (including during peak hours), and the data collected can be aggregated for regulatory compliance reporting.

We know where we’re going.

As 2020 came to a close, we’re focusing even more on technology advances that will affect end-users, and ultimately service providers. Wi-Fi 6 is one example.

Wi-Fi 6 is the next generation of Wi-Fi standards. It will undoubtedly have a significant effect on quality of experience. With 70% of data traffic on cellular mobile devices being on Wi-Fi and the proliferation of IoT devices, the current Wi-Fi infrastructure is reaching its limits, especially when used in high-density environments like apartment buildings.

Wi-Fi 6 can accommodate the growing number of internet-enabled devices coming onto the market. It’s 6x times faster than Wi-Fi 5 and is better at balancing loads by only using what bandwidth is needed when it’s needed. ASSIA is working with service providers, CPE vendors, and chipset manufacturers to support Wi-Fi-6-enabled devices as they come to the market.

In 2021, we’ll be looking for ways to deliver even more value to our customers and their subscribers. We’ll continue to provide cutting-edge, cost-effective solutions to fix the right problems in the right places with a consistent QoS and QoE irrespective of the device, connection, application, or time of day. We are working on a true end-to-end solution as an extension of our Commande initiative, using the data captured by Expresse and CloudCheck for access lines (over DSL, fiber, cable, or mobile networks). These data sources will feed our ML/AI algorithms to help diagnose the right problems at the right place and time and assist our customers in making more informed decisions on where to invest in their infrastructure and what services to offer their customers.


RDK Tech Summit

RDK is an open-source software platform for the connected home that standardizes core functions used in broadband devices, set-top boxes, and IoT. It enables operators to manage their devices; control their business models; and customize their apps, UIs, and data analytics to improve the customer experience and drive business results. The RDK community comprises more than 430 companies, including CPE manufacturers, SoC vendors, software developers, system integrators, and service providers.

And now, the RDK Tech Summit has become a significant industry event with presentations, discussions, Q&As, a hackathon, and operators sharing their hands-on experiences with the community. The event is an important driver for RDK innovation.

ASSIA took part in the RDK-B (Reference Design Kit-Broadband) session on November 18.
Comcast’s Charles Moreman introduced the session and reminded us that there are now over 30 million devices running the RDK-B platform. Now, its use has extended beyond cable modem devices (where ASSIA first gained experience implementing its agent) to cover the broader range of access technologies that telecom operators have adopted.

We saw for ourselves that RDK Central had built a robust ecosystem with thousands of people registered on the Wiki. Further, an extensive set of software solutions were represented, which provide critical features for Wi-Fi/mesh management, parental controls, advanced security, plug-in interfaces for cloud-based management, and service provider telemetry. ASSIA is leveraging these functions and supports establishing a robust hardware abstraction layer (HAL) to simplify support across hardware variants as part of our well-established, multi-vendor strategy.

We’ve gained significant experience working with RDK-B-based devices. First, we needed to obtain the required data for our ML/AI algorithms and the controls to enable real-time action when managing Wi-Fi and mesh networks. Further, we worked on monitoring CPE health and end devices to ensure the throughput, latency, and consistency from the network could support the full range of video streaming, conferencing, and web services that are now such a big part of everyday life.

In other news, we thought it was interesting that the Portuguese ISP, NOS Inovacao, is using Ripe Atlas technology to guarantee that the network is delivering services as promised. They are also evolving from separate, hardware-based to an embedded software probe, a bit like what we’ve seen develop for Ofcom and CAF-II using embedded agents to measure across the entire network.

Also relevant is CommScope’s development of TR369/USP agent for the RDK platform. ASSIA is a champion for this movement and has taken a leadership position in BBF to drive USP adoption. We’re supporting the Wi-Fi Alliance to help define the set of data elements that a USP agent should report to the cloud as standard protocol. With time, we expect USP to evolve to provide all the functions as we have today with the ASSIA agent embedded on RDK or other platforms.


Here’s Why 2021 Will Be the Year for Wi-Fi 6

The holiday season is here. And so is something that can make home internet work better. On November 10, Apple announced that its newly released MacBooks, Mac Mini, and now the iPhone 12 would support Wi-Fi 6. Consumer Reports recently published an article explaining why it’s time to buy a Wi-Fi 6 router. Manufacturers are rushing to add Wi-Fi 6 enabled devices to everyone’s shopping lists.

As a service provider, you need to know what Wi-Fi 6 offers, anticipate likely questions from your subscribers, and understand how ASSIA can help you support your customers as this standard comes to maturity.

What is Wi-Fi 6?

Wi-Fi 6 is the next generation of Wi-Fi standards. It was a planned effort designed to accommodate the growing number of internet-enabled devices coming on the market and appearing in places of business, in homes, and pretty much everywhere. While Wi-Fi 6 has been around for over a year, there are three solid reasons for its suddenly rapid roadmap.

  • Work-from-home and stay-at-home mandates led to unprecedented home internet usage and associated challenges.
  • The FCC recently ruled to make available new spectrum “to enable wider channels that can be immediately used by Wi-Fi 6 to support gigabit connectivity with lower latency, improved coverage, and better power efficiency.”
  • The additional 6GHz band is known as Wi-Fi 6E. Essentially it’s like the FCC turned a two-lane into a six-lane highway.

At a high level, Wi-Fi 6 solves several fundamental problems for end-users:

Speed
Wi-Fi 6 is about 6x times faster than Wi-Fi 5 though speed is largely dependent on the number of access points, devices on the network, and environment. Overall, users can get Wi-Fi speed, stability, and availability on the level of a wired connection.

Consistent access and performance
As important as speed is consistent access and optimized performance. This is where Wi-Fi 6 shines. As we bring more and more internet-enabled devices and applications into the home—from video games to online education to light switches, Wi-Fi 6 can use what bandwidth is needed, only when it’s needed. Essentially, a way better job of balancing the load.

Capacity and density
Whether your teenagers in the next room have hijacked the internet or all your neighbors and/or roommates are on video chat, Wi-Fi 6 can handle co-channel interference. It solves for dense environments with myriad devices and simultaneous connections.

Reach and coverage
Another common challenge that users experience with Wi-Fi is reach. You walk around the house, and your Wi-Fi comes and goes. In some places, it’s an internet dead zone. Wi-Fi 6 can offer consistent coverage throughout your home and a better job at prioritizing access for applications, devices, and users.

Better security
WPA3, emerged in 2018, but only now in Wi-Fi 6 is a new security protocol that makes it harder for hackers to crack a user’s password with repeated guesses. It also makes some data less useful if hackers get it.

How does Wi-Fi 6 work, technically?

Wi-Fi 6 offers several many capabilities to improve Wi-Fi network coverage and performance. Some include:

  • OFDMA (Orthogonal frequency division multiple access): Enables greater network efficiency and lower latency for uplink and downlink traffic.
  • Multi-user MIMO (Multi-user multiple input, multiple output): Allows for more downlink data to be transferred and to handle more devices concurrently.
  • TWT (Target wake time): Improves network efficiency and extends device battery life by letting devices “sleep” when they are not used.
  • BSS (Basic Service Set) Coloring addresses densely populated areas where networks are transmitting lots of data, typically in proximity which leads to overlaps between access points, interference, and latency.

These are just some of the technical details. Learn about the rest here.

Will non-Wi-Fi 6 enabled devices become obsolete?

Yes and no. Yes, Wi-Fi 6 will eventually eclipse older devices. But, no, because Wi-Fi 6 software and devices are still being rolled out. The good news about standards is that new devices will be Wi-Fi 6 enabled by default.

As The Verge advises, the one purchase you might want to add to your holiday shopping list is a Wi-Fi 6 router. Especially if you plan to invest in a Mac, Asus, Samsung, or Lenovo laptop. Here’s why:

“If your router doesn’t support Wi-Fi 6, you won’t see any benefits, no matter how many Wi-Fi 6 devices you bring home. (You could actually see a benefit, though, connecting Wi-Fi 5 gadgets to a Wi-Fi 6 router, because the router may be capable of communicating with more devices at once.)”

ASSIA has been working with service providers, CPE vendors, and chipset manufacturers to enable the value that Wi-Fi 6 can bring. 2021 is the year when it will all come together—home network, new devices, and cloud management—to deliver a superior quality of experience for the end-user.


A Wireless-Wireline Physically Converged Architecture: Introducing Cellular Subscriber Lines

As customer demand for high-bandwidth services increases, providers look for ways to maximize existing infrastructure and manage costs. ASSIA is proud to be at the forefront of an innovative approach to solve this challenge: CSL (Cellular Subscriber Lines). CSL, as detailed in this paper published for IEEE, is a ground-breaking new concept for greatly extending radio coverage and data rates. CSL re-uses existing wireless-wireline architecture—copper phone, Ethernet, coaxial cable, and other wireline connections—to deploy numerous wireless small cells in an economical manner. The value of this approach is improved bandwidth at a much lower cost.

How CSL Works

CSL leverages existing cabling in a very low-cost architecture. As shown in the figure below, a single BaseBand Unit (BBU) communicates over existing cabling to many remote radio heads. The CSL-IFs down-convert the wireless baseband unit’s (BBU’s) signals to the appropriate frequencies for transmission through the wireline connection, with up-conversion at the CSL-RF. The same process also runs in reverse (with up-conversion at the CSL-RF) to provide bi-directional transmission. Complex modulation, coding, signal processing, MIMO, and other functions are performed at the BBU. The CSL-RF remote radio head (RRH) only needs to perform simple analog frequency conversion and amplification, thereby allowing a very low-cost, small and simple radio head. Further, communication over the wire is exceedingly simple, using existing cabling, with no need to run new fiber, and no costly optical to electrical (O2E) conversion.

 

Identical to 4G LTE and 5G NR, CSL modulates OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing) signals, thereby providing complete interoperability with existing 4G/5G systems and handsets. The authors show that these OFDM signals are advantageously also nearly optimal for wireline transmission, when sent at the proper frequencies. For more details, refer to the IEEE paper to learn how cellular’s OFDM systems can be used to implement near-optimal DSL performance with the wireless signals.

Because radio head/base stations are simply-constructed and low-power, they cost less to deploy. When feeding many distributed small cells, these cost-savings could be significant.

Cost-Effective Wireless Deployment

With CSL, the baseband wireless link now includes the metallic baseband/IF signals, which has less attenuation than the same-length wireless link. Furthermore, several spatial streams can be multiplexed on single wire, allowing low-cost deployment of enhanced MIMO (Multi-Input, Multi-Output) systems for increased wireless performance.

Further, the electrical power that existing copper wire may deliver to the home could also energize the CSL-RF, solving the thorny problem of powering numerous small cells. Similarly, this architecture accommodates Wi-Fi systems, which is well-suited to enterprise deployments where Ethernet cable is present. The super-heterodyning concept of IF and RF can enable very low-cost proliferation and allow cloud-based control to enhance existing standardized infrastructure.

IDEAL MU-MIMO

CSL systems may well provide an excellent solution to the increasing need for more cost-effective wireless deployment so that the promise of a highly connected wireless future can advance with much less economic risk. CSL can enable the 5G vision

Massive Bandwidth Lift

As consumers demand better wireless quality in- and out-of-home, quality of service is critical but potentially costly. CSL would address this increasing demand with less economic risk. Cellular-wireless (or Wi-Fi-wireless), MCS, and MIMO methods’ re-use on copper costs less, uses more existing infrastructure, and improves wireless residential networks’ profitability.

Further, and possibly most dramatic, is the spectral efficiency, increase in effective speeds, and low latency provided by the ability of CSL to provide a cost-effective massive decrease in cell radius.

Data Rates (down plus up)

In the example above, an approximate decrease by a factor of 5 in cell radius provides over a factor of 25 increase in cellular reuse, with a consequent factor of 25 increase in effective bandwidth.

In summary, CSL is a dramatic and less expensive way to put a cell base station at every house so every customer gets a massive bandwidth increase for their mobile devices. By using their existing copper wiring (pair cable or coax), providers avoid the need to deploy a lot of fiber to the home.

While an exceptional solution for areas with wireline access built out 20-50 years ago, CSL is also a disruptive concept for the many countries that have already started to invest in getting fiber to every home.

For more information on CSL, contact the ASSIA sales team.