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Terabit DSLs and Wireless-Dimensionality in the Terahertz Band

ASSIA
Marketing Team

Posted on March 25, 2019

Testing of waveguide mode of copper infrastructure at Brown University.

John Cioffi, ASSIA CEO, was the opening keynote speaker at PMF2019 “The First International Workshop on Polymer Microwave Fiber (PMF) Technology” hosted by KU Leuven in BELGIUM on March 4th and 5th. The workshop brought together important academia and industry players in the fields of PMF and waveguides. Polymer Microwave Fiber is a communication concept that combines mm-wave chips, metal couplers, and cheap plastic fibers.

The Promise of Waveguide Mode

In his keynote, “Terabit DSLs and Wireless-Dimensionality in the Terahertz Band”, Cioffi, gave an update on the progress of the Terabit DSL research, some measurements for which are being conducted at Brown University under the direction of Professor Daniel Mittleman under sponsorship from the US National Science Foundation and ASSIA.

Cioffi originally introduced Terabit DSL at the Paris G.fast Summit conference in May 2017. In that initial presentation, Cioffi asserted that fiber-like speeds of 10 Gbps to 1000 Gbps (e.g., 1 Tbps) could be possible by using the previously unexploited waveguide modes of current copper infrastructure cables that contain twisted-pair phone lines. Waveguide-mode use is similar to the use of millimeter-wave transmissions in advanced wireless and 5G. While current 5G wireless often runs at 28 GHz and 39 GHz, commercial microwave gear can run at 70 GHz and 90 GHz. Waveguides can open the terahertz gap and enable use of frequencies above 100 GHz for significantly faster speeds. Cioffi notes that the wavelengths at these frequencies can “fit” between the wires and that multiple-antenna-like (“MIMO”) processing can be used to transmit and receive well the signals at these frequencies.

Waveguide mode for TDSL

Waveguides for TDSL

Terabit DSL Research Update

In the detailed technical talk in Belgium, Cioffi discussed how this approach combines two known methods into a Digital Subscriber Waveguide that can deliver 1 terabyte per second:

  • Plasmon polariton and other waveguide modes used for sub millimeter wave transmission
  • Vectoring or massive MIMO used by G.fast vectoring, Wi-Fi, and LTE

Dr. Cioffi covered these additional topics in discussing the testing environment, research results, and proposals for real-world deployments.

  • Development of a MU-MIMO model of the waveguide channel based on experimental results
  • Example architecture of transmitters and receivers
  • Ethernet results, exploring the possibility of terabit “TBASE-T” Ethernet
  • Signal Processing – conversion devices and processing capabilities

Early Successes

So far, the research results indicate successful transmission modes, even around bending pairs of wireless in the 200 GHz range. While continued experiments are needed, these particular results continue to motivate further work because of the potential for home customer DSL speeds of:

  • 10 Gbps at 500-meter lengths
  • 100 Gbps at 300-meter lengths
  • 1 Tbps at 100-meter lengths

Evolutionary Adoption

Cioffi acknowledges that not everyone will need a terabit per second of DSL service anytime soon. He suggested that the industry begin by providing a slower speed at longer lengths, such as 10 Gbps up to 500 meters. Then, the infrastructure can be upgraded for 5G wireless in the future when faster speeds can be accomplished at longer lengths, such as 1 terabit per second at 100 meters for 5G wireless small cells “back/front” haul.

More generally, the industry can start taking advantage of using the waveguide modes of copper infrastructure before full deployment to homes might be seriously contemplated. For instance, data centers particularly could more easily and more immediately benefit from the flexibility the approach offers. Fiber cables can be replaced with copper cables up to 100 meters and data centers will no longer have to endure the costs of guessing how much fiber and copper is needed. Further, 5G backhaul is very costly if fiber must be deployed to many new smaller cell sites, which could be far less expensively deployed instead on existing copper to such an enlarged set of 5G cell sites.

Significant Potential Cost Benefits of TDSL

If these performance speeds are eventually verified and realized in production, TDSL could fundamentally change the entire telecommunications industry. Currently there are enormous costs associated to increase access speeds. For example, upgrading each home with fiber to the home can cost $3000 to $4000 per home. Cioffi cited that at the recent Mobile World Congress, the Deutsche Telekom CTO and CEO estimated the European 5G fiber infrastructure cost to be between 300 and 500 billion euros.

In contrast, by using the existing copper infrastructure’s unexploited waveguide modes to provide home internet and to backhaul 5G cell sites, could reduce costs of building the high-speed access networks of the future by a factor of five to ten. In fact, providing 10 Gbps at 500m could change capex planning for internet service providers and telecommunications operators significantly if a customer needs it and is willing to change providers or services for it.

Cioffi concluded his keynote by encouraging the industry to work together with pre-competitive cooperation for better measures and consequent calculations and projections. Then in the short-term, focus on 10Gbps at 100 meters, 5G small cells back and front haul, and data centers.

Read more about TDSL.


ASSIA Vision for Wi-Fi Virtualization

Ken Kerpez
ASSIA Ph.D., IEEE Fellow

Posted on March 14, 2019

Virtualization is transforming the telecom landscape, by moving network functions into the cloud where operators have ready access. Virtualization enables rapid upgrades (milliseconds instead of weeks), plug-and-play interoperation with many other functions, an innovative ecosystem, essentially unlimited computed power of a datacenter, and myriad other benefits. Many equipment vendors are moving toward providing control-plane software functions which compliment data-plane hardware functions. But what about Wi-Fi virtualization?

Being at the end of the network, Wi-Fi hasn’t seen much in the way of virtualization. For example, Wi-Fi Alliance Wi-Fi CERTIFIED EasyMesh™ (aka Multi-AP) controllers are now limited to being within Wi-Fi Access Points. However, a series of recent efforts by ASSIA aim to improve this, to enable Wi-Fi virtualization by bringing the control plane of Wi-Fi into the cloud.

Cloud-based Management and Control of Wi-Fi

ASSIA CEO, Professor John Cioffi, recently presented “Wi5G: A Wireless Convergence Vision” as the Wi-Fi Now Keynote; then further expanded the subject with Wi-Fi Alliance presentation “Ergodic Spectrum Management (ESM) (a next “Wi5G” step).” These talks showed benefits of cloud-based management and control of Wi-Fi, highlighting a number of areas where advanced management and multiuser optimization can greatly benefit Wi-Fi performance and customer Quality of Experience (QoE). There was great interest in these advancements, particularly among broadband network operators and providers of “carrier-grade” Wi-Fi.

 

wifi-virtualization

Figure 1

Standards Initiatives for Wi-Fi Virtualization

As ASSIA’s Director of Standards, I am actively working to cloud-enable Wi-Fi in the Wi-Fi Alliance and in the Broadband Forum. In the near-term, I am working to strengthen the Data Elements release 2 specification so that it can be used by a cloud-based system to remotely control and manage EasyMeshTMcontrollers. I’m also proposing specification support for cloud-based EasyMeshTM controllers. EasyMeshTM communicates via Ethernet Type-Length-Value (TLV) messages in a customer premises LAN. These messages can traverse a WAN via IP encapsulation, passing through a layer-2 tunnel such as GRE or VxLAN, or being carried via a message transfer protocol. As figure 1 shows, a gateway can support such LAN-to-WAN message transfer. A promising message transfer protocol for this purpose is the User Services Platform (USP), The Broadband Forum’s successor to TR-69.

Related Virtualization Standards Initiatives

There are multiple related nascent efforts in the industry. The concept of virtualizing CPE is already established, already being specified by Broadband Forum TR -317, Network Enhanced Residential Gateway (NERG). Virtual CPE network functions are already being sold, such as enhanced firewall and parental controls. Edge computing can enable a low-latency, therefore high-performance, cloud controller; and the Broadband Forum Cloud CO project is establishing edge computing for broadband networks. Remote EasyMeshTMcontrollers are also being considered by the joint Broadband Forum – Prpl Foundation Open Broadband-Multi-AP (OB-MAP) project, which has an opensource implementation of EasyMeshTM.

Time to Move to Wi-Fi Virtualization

ASSIA Cloudcheck has advantageously implemented cloud-based Wi-Fi management and control for some time now. ASSIA is pleased about, and actively encourages, the industry move toward Wi-Fi virtualization.


Mobile World Congress 19: Mobile and Wi-Fi Convergence

ASSIA
Marketing Team

Posted on March 7, 2019

The overarching theme of MWC19 Barcelona was “Intelligent Connectivity”, the powerful combination of flexible, high-speed 5G networks, IoT, AI, and big data, all of which cite the beginning of mobile and Wi-Fi convergence. Since “Intelligent Connectivity” is dependent on reliably fast Wi-Fi, carriers are taking increasing responsibility for providing and managing home Wi-Fi to assure a high Quality of Experience for their customers. So, we’d like to share three Wi-Fi-related advances that caught our eye at the show.

Telefónica Home Wi-Fi Management Open Access Project

Telefónica presented the first prototype of an open and convergent access network that integrates fixed and mobile and enables edge computing which Telefónica is already testing with several customers and technological partners in Spain, and soon in Brazil. We are happy to say that ASSIA provides the optimization and predictive analytics technology for the Telefónica Open Access Project.

The Open Access Project separates network equipment hardware and software, using general purpose servers and open software interfaces, to provide flexibility and efficient 5G deployments. The same equipment will support distributed traditional deployments and centralized cloud deployments. Innovations can be deployed by just updating the software.

Telefónica has built its own home Wi-Fi router software for use with their customer premises equipment with service logic integrated in the cloud. The ASSIA technology helps Telefónica provide their customers with superior Wi-Fi performance in the home and proactive care capabilities from Telefónica customer service worldwide. The ASSIA solution has been incorporated in Wi-Fi 5 routers as well as the future Wi-Fi 6 home gateway announced by Telefónica at MWC. To learn more about the Telefónica innovation, read the Telefónica press release.

First 6 GHz Wi-Fi Demo by Intel

There has been a lot of buzz about 6 GHz Wi-Fi, with the FCC leading other regulators in opening up new unlicensed bands for 5G Wi-Fi use and 3GPP incorporating 6GHz operation under its 3GPP standards. The work of the 3GPP standards body will allow the deployment and adoption of 5G services and its co-existence with Wi-Fi. ASSIA looks forward to being a significant contributor to Wi-Fi and 5G deployments with our IP and technology for optimizing the associated spectrum.

Google Station and Facebook Wi-Fi Expansion

Google and Facebook are far from traditional players in the Wi-Fi market, but both announced significant progress in expanding their Wi-Fi offerings. The common goal of these initiatives is to provide high-quality Wi-Fi to developing countries. Google now has deployments in south-east Asia, Nigeria and Mexico. With Facebook Wi-Fi, users will be able to access Wi-Fi simply by entering their Facebook app. Cisco announced their support for Google Station, and Nokia announced their support for Facebook Wi-Fi.

Mobile and Wi-Fi Convergence is Upon Us

So, it looks like the convergence of Wi-Fi and mobile is upon us. The advantage to the consumer will be an improvement of Quality of Experience with better performance, and in the case of 5G, the ease-of-use that comes with it being all one network. While service providers will see improved customer satisfaction and reduced costs, your challenge will be to make sure the network has the contextual intelligence to be able to balance the two objectives all at once.

Fortunately, ASSIA is here to help with our innovative technology for service providers to make the most of your existing copper and fiber access networks and be prepared for the future of mobile and Wi-Fi convergence. Read more about ASSIA’s broadband, fiber, and Wi-Fi management and optimization solutions.


AI and the Ubiquitous 1 GBPS Access Network

ASSIA
Marketing Team

Posted on March 5, 2019

ASSIA CEO, John Cioffi, recently spoke at Tor Vergata University in Rome, Italy to a distinguished audience. He spoke about how data sciences, including both analytics and optimization, can contribute to our industry’s access networks evolution to ubiquitous 1 Gbps. Since a range of fixed and wireless access-connectivity options exist—and will continue to exist—throughout the world, it is important for the industry to find ways to make informed, economical decisions to evolve our access networks. Particularly, since there is no clear efficiency choice between fixed and wireless access-connectivity methods.

The key to accomplishing this informed evolution, is to make use of the network data that is available. By applying continuous artificial intelligent to this network data, planning exercises can make the informed, economical choices needed for effective access network evolution. During his presentation, John reviewed some of these methods and suggested possible gains and strategies that could be pursued to accelerate efficient progress towards the ubiquitous 1 Gbps goal.

Audience Reaction Highlights

Here we would like to highlight four topics that significantly resonated with the audience in Rome or sparked lively discussion around the evolution to a ubiquitous 1 Gbps access network.

Increasing speeds without the expense of fiber

For the foreseeable future, it is just not financially viable or practical to provide fiber to each home to achieve ubiquitous 1 Gbps. As a result, the possibility of using network data and AI to increase speeds to consumers everywhere without the expense of fiber garnered a very positive reaction.

Effective load balancing of management data

Some methods of load balancing management data bandwidth, including those employed by open source systems, have a tendency to overwhelm the management channel bandwidth. The fact that ASSIA’s methods do not overwhelm the management network, was seen as a valuable component to achieving a ubiquitous 1 Gbps access network.

State of Italian multi-operator vectoring

While not directly in John’s prepared discussion topics, the audience was very interested to hear John’s take on why the Italian multi-operator vectoring (MOV) approach has not proceeded as once hoped. From John’s perspective, the problem is that there is only one MOV equipment supplier, Huawei, which means there is low demand and volume, resulting in high costs. John asserted that a software management approach with multi-tenant capabilities could accomplish the same goal much easier for TIM S.p.A. (Telecom Italia) if they were to proceed with their vectoring effort.

Measurement beyond sampling

Many solutions that measure network speeds use a sampling approach. While sampling is better than no measurement, it can be misleading and isn’t a reliable indicator of the Quality of Experience for all consumers. The ASSIA approach, which regularly measures all users’ speeds everywhere generated genuine interest as a much-needed improvement to assure consumer Quality of Experience.

ASSIA Innovation

ASSIA is at the forefront of developing innovative technology for service providers to make the most of their existing copper and fiber access networks. John’s presentation “Artificial intelligence in planning the ubiquitous 1 Gbps access network” and the role AI can play, is just one of many innovations ASSIA is bringing to the industry. Read more about ASSIA’s broadband, fiber, and Wi-Fi management and optimization solutions.


The Case for Managed Home Wi-Fi | Download Free Paper

ASSIA
Marketing Team

Posted on February 4, 2019

As we enter 2019, the definition of home broadband service has expanded all the way to the device. Residential customers are defining their quality of experience based on what happens between the gateway and their devices. As a result, we at ASSIA, Inc. commissioned Adlane Fellah, Senior Analyst at Maravedis, to research and write a whitepaper for us focused on “The Case for Managed Home Wi-Fi”.  Mr. Fellah has authored various landmark reports on Wi-Fi, LTE, 4G, and technology trends in various industries, including retail, restaurant, and hospitality.

Here are some of the topics the white paper “The Case for Managed Home Wi-Fi” covers.

Managed Home Wi-Fi: Demand and Complexity

Residential customers now rely on the quality of their internet connection to fulfill an ever-expanding number of digital uses:

  • Communication via voice, chat, and video conferences
  • Entertainment by streaming TV, movies, music, and gaming
  • Shopping online
  • And more

While managed Wi-Fi is increasing in importance, its complexity is also growing and becomes more difficult to manage for end-users alone. The upcoming introduction of 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) brings both greater performance and more complexity to the mix of old and new technologies, so service providers will have to make some hard choices about where and when to invest.

The Business Case for Managed Home Wi-Fi

For the operators already dealing with decreased revenues from cord cutting and the intrusion of OTTs into the home through their voice recognition devices, the case for managed home Wi-Fi includes the following opportunities:

  • Managing and reducing operational costs (OpEx) by gaining visibility of connectivity issues inside the home and leveraging diagnostic tools
  • Maximizing the ROI from capital investment (CapEx) by optimizing equipment and service performance
  • Creating new revenue streams
  • Reducing churn by giving customers a differentiated quality of experience

Consequently, the combination of demand and complexity, make a strong case for managed home Wi-Fi becoming an essential component of the broadband service delivery.

In the whitepaper, Adlane covers:

  • Factors affecting home Wi-Fi performance such as dead zones and neighborhood interference, among others
  • The cost of poor Wi-Fi performance such as a high number of tier 1 and tier 2 service tickets, technician dispatches, long customer service calls, unnecessary gateway swaps, and customer churn
  • The benefits of a managed home Wi-Fi solution including reduced OpEx, reduced CapEx, and new revenues
  • Deployment considerations such as the impact of 802.11ax in the home, EasyMesh™, WAN and LAN optimization, and regulatory considerations

We at ASSIA strongly encourage you to read this excellent paper by Adlane Fellah, “The Case for Managed Home Wi-Fi”.


Wi-Fi NOW Berlin | Wi-Fi Work Congress Expo and Conference

ASSIA
Marketing Team

Posted on December 10, 2018

ASSIA, Inc. recently participated in the Wi-Fi NOW Berlin conference. Wi-Fi Now exists to support and promote all things Wi-Fi and to make high-quality, high-performance Wi-Fi available everywhere, for everyone. With the investment ASSIA has made in managed Wi-Fi recently, we decided to support the event. Carriers, service providers, technology vendors, and regulators from around the globe participated.

Two members of the ASSIA team were among the list of distinguished speakers that included representatives from the Wi-Fi Alliance, OFCOM, Deutsche Telekom, KPN, ARRIS, LANCOM and Qualcomm.

Topics covered at Wi-Fi Berlin ranged from new Wi-Fi business models and monetization, innovations that are boosting Wi-Fi performance, security, standards, and the emergence of “Wi-Fi first” mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) and their potential to disrupt the mobile market.

Leading Telecom Operators Are Taking Responsibility for Wi-Fi Customer Experience

Several of the presentations validated ASSIA’s recent focus on managed Wi-Fi with at least two telecom operators demonstrating their commitment to taking responsibility for the customer experience in the home.

In their keynote, “Present and Future of In-home Wi-Fi Connectivity”, Telenet showcased their app that helps consumers find the optimal placement of their gateways in their homes. KPN showcased their ability to fine-tune Wi-Fi in the home by specifying the number of rooms and floors and then testing performance and speed.

Enabling Bandwidth to the Device

ASSIA’s EVP of Development and Strategy, Tuncay Cil, gave a very well-received presentation, “Enabling Bandwidth to the Device”.

Tuncay first discussed the evolution of bandwidth and performance goals for mobile and fixed line carriers. He then exposed some myths detailed in the chart below.

MYTH FACT
New generation of Wi-Fi will deliver high bandwidth-to–the-device Coverage, interference, and noise problems impair delivery of bandwidth-to-the-device
5GHz will enable at least 450Mbps to the connected devices Marginal improvement is being seen with 5GHz:  80%<100Mbps, 34%<30Mbps 10%<3Mbps
Adding extra access points will deliver reliable bandwidth to the devices Adding unmanaged access points have no or little effect on fixing coverage problems

Then Tuncay presented survey data on how low Quality of Experience (QoE) impacts carrier operations. Not only does poor QoE drive the highest number of calls and tech dispatches, it creates a:

  • 8x increase in call rate
  • 3x increase in dispatch rate

And Tuncay discussed that Wi-Fi and 5G are not on track to deliver reliable bandwidth to the device to solve these problems for carriers. Instead, QoE management will get more complex as households move from single access points to multiple access points in the home, as multi-unit dwellings start installing their own networks, and these all compete with each other for bandwidth.

And at the end of his Wi-Fi Berlin keynote, Tuncay shared some initial results carriers are seeing using ASSIA CloudCheck and its adaptive predictive analytics to manage bandwidth to the device, such as:

  • 30% decrease in calls to the call center
  • 16% decrease in field tech dispatches

Read more about CloudCheck.

Q&A Panel Wi-Fi Berlin: The Future of the Wi-Fi Connected Home

Jerome Anastase, ASSIA’s VP of EMEAR, joined the AVP of product management from Celeno, a general manager from Qorvo, and the co-founder and CEO of Rethink Technology Research for a question and answer panel. Some of the topics discussed were:

  • Technology for great home Wi-Fi
  • Role of carriers in providing home Wi-Fi services
  • Role of new consumer mesh products
  • How “headless” Wi-Fi IoT products can be connected safely
  • How AI & machine learning can assist in serving up great Wi-Fi to every device

But the primary jest of the conversation came back to two of the more popular topics:

  • Service providers taking more responsibility for the customer experience of home Wi-Fi
  • Service providers needing instrumentation to know what is going on in the home, including topology and devices so they can effectively manage home Wi-Fi for a better customer experience

To learn more about Wi-Fi Berlin, the Wi-Fi NOW organization and the events they hold all over the world throughout the year visit www.wifinowevents.com

Watch the video of Tuncay’s keynote presentation,  “Enabling Bandwidth to the Device“.

WiFi Now Berlin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you would like a copy of Tuncay’s slides, please email [email protected]

 


There’s something missing in network investment and management

Tuncay Cil
EVP Strategy and Corporate Development

Posted on September 12, 2018

This blog was originally published by IBC.

We are missing a critical tool to make right investment and management decisions in networks, writes ASSIA Chief Strategy Officer Tuncay Cil.

For better or worse, broadband speed has been the de facto Quality of Experience (QoE) metric for broadband connectivity for the last decade. Network operators, data centers, network equipment and software vendors, content and application providers, all rely on some interpretation of QoE metrics for broadband internet connectivity results to make key investment, operations and marketing decisions.

Moreover, national regulatory agencies also have been more active in the last years to enforce monitoring consumer QoE/speeds to drive national broadband initiatives and regulate carriers. BEREC, ARCEP, FCC, Ofcom all have different initiatives like the sourcing of a reference system to build a standard SpeedTest solution.

We still have ways to go to achieve this objective and the current tools are clearly not sufficient for the goals of the eco-system.

Significantly misleading
There is no standard for performance benchmarking and most tools are significantly misleading.

The speed test measurement goals, methodologies, and results differ significantly. Moreover, the content providers, service providers, and regulators all see significantly different results based on different speed test measurement methodologies, and even for the same service in the same location for similar large number of sample set. For example, Akamai, Netflix, YouTube, FCC, and many speed test vendors produce aggregate analytics for broadband speeds for a particular nation/location and the results can vary over 200% at times.

Some of the variation can naturally be attributed to the motivations/goals of measurement:

  • Using average speeds as performance benchmarking for “speed as experienced by end-user” (ex: do I get the speed that was advertised to me? How is my connection speed compared to others?)
  • End-to-end vs. component by component testing. (ex: Where is the bottleneck in delivery of the service across content servers, internet backbone, last-mile access network, home networks, consumer device, etc)
  • A single connection vs. many ex: (aggregate by location, or other attribute of connectivity profile)

Beyond different purposes, the testing method inaccuracies are also responsible for wildly varying speed test results:

  • Bias in end-user initiated only-at-time-of-trouble speed tests
  • Using end-to-end testing as a proxy to home network speed.\
  • Inaccurate data sampling
  • Single vs. multiple server measurements
  • Single vs. multiple TCP stream measurements

Improving the situation

Providing full visibility on individual component performance while measuring end-to-end connectivity performance would address most gaps in current tooling for broadband speed testing. However the design and deployment of such new tooling have to take into account regulatory rules, service providers operational concerns, and varying capabilities of network equipment vendors.

We believe there are five different segments and associated testing capabilities that need to be refined and made available to internet eco-system partners:

  • Wi-Fi throughput via device measurement: This test is made from the consumer device to the AP (with or without agent) through the consumer device. The measurement method should allow single-end Wi-Fi measurement to avoid CPE software update where it is not possible to make such change to the CPE.
  • Wi-Fi throughput from the CPE should also allow single-ended Wi-Fi measurement methodology but this time through the CPE instead of the consumer device. This way the consumer devices would not need additional software installation to enable testing. Also, the measurement should be made automatically on a configurable schedule without end-user involvement. A software agent in CPE can initiate this kind of testing to all devices connected to the CPE.
  • End-to-end throughput test by the consumer device provides upstream and downstream measurement as well as latency. The test should be performed to/from a test node placed on or off network. This measurement can be initiated by the consumer device.
  • Network throughput test from the CPE is initiated by the CPE agent to/from a Test node placed on or off network. The end-user usage should not impact the test results. In addition, the testing software agent in the CPE should collect traffic data on a frequent basis and can thereby derive maximum and average throughputs over pre-set intervals and peak/off peak times.
  • Access Sync/Contracted rate should be passively collected on access nodes in service provider backend Physical and upper-layer transmission impairments can also be detected by Access Network Data Collector (ANDC).

Best Practices in Wi-Fi Management, using VICTOR…

ASSIA
Marketing Team

Posted on August 22, 2018

A Common Goal

An optimized Wi-Fi network is one ubiquitous desire of every Internet service subscriber around the globe.   The goal of each subscriber – and their service provider  – is to enable an optimized home Wi-Fi environment which is (to use the definition of Optimization from Webster’s Dictionary) as “fully perfect, functional and efficient as possible.”

Wi-Fi Complexity

Wi-Fi is essential to communication, yet remains difficult for subscribers to understand – let alone to manage.  In a recent deployment of ASSIA’s CloudCheck® Wi-Fi management solution by a global operator, it was discovered that over 40% of subscribers with dual band gateways had never once utilized the 5GHz band.  The operator, which was dealing with large volumes of customer support calls related to home Wi-Fi, was shocked to discover that 4 out of 10 subscribers – who likely could have benefited from the increased throughput offered by the 5Ghz band – were unaware they had an alternative to the slower 2.4GHz band.

In addition to the fact that Wi-Fi band, channel and other settings remain elusive to most Wi-Fi users, there is also the reality that Wi-Fi environments undergo a great deal of change over the course of a few minutes or hours.  Factors which impact Wi-Fi performance such as interference and noise are often fluid.  ASSIA has found that a home Wi-Fi network requires multiple changes per day to properly react to the influences which impact the network.  This need for change and complexity increases as the number of Wi-Fi devices in the home grows.

Addressing Complexity with VICTOR

V

Visibility.  The first step to optimizing anything is visibility.  Whether one is a plumber in one’s kitchen, a mechanic under the hood of a car, or a general facing a battlefield…  each person’s first step would be to gain visibility to the situation.  Where is the leak?  What is broken?  Where is the enemy approaching?

In the case of Wi-Fi, it is essential to receive as much information on the environment as possible.  ASSIA’s CloudCheck places an agent in home user gateways which pulls extensive diagnostics from the Wi-Fi driver to gain visibility.  The agent sends that information to ASSIA’s  Cloud – providing CloudCheck with real-time data into a given home’s Wi-Fi environment.

 

I

Insight is achieved when information is evaluated.  For example, CloudCheck compares a Wi-Fi network’s current (real-time) information against collected historical data.  The ASSIA cloud collects and stores information and creates a histogram for devices.  Insight is gained, and recommendations are created by the CloudCheck system.

These recommendations can be seen by the operator and subscriber alike.  Examples include:

Change Channel, Switch Band, Enable Optimization, Update Aging Gateway, or Reboot Router.

It is worth noting that the cloud has limitless storage and can maintain extensive amounts of historical data.  The comparison of real-time and historical data offers deeper insights than might be achieved by a heuristic on-gateway optimization.

 

C

Control is the act of “directing influence” over someone or something.  In the case of plumbing, control could involve a new gasket, Teflon tape or simple tightening of a fitting.  In the case of Wi-Fi, CloudCheck can automate the execution of a given recommendation.  CloudCheck can tell the gateway to change the channel, switch a band, reboot the Wi-Fi Driver etc.  CloudCheck can take corrective action to improve stability, increase throughput, decrease latency, account for noise – in very-near real-time.

Many may think of control as a reactive response to insight gained from visibility.

 

T

Tuning.  As corrective actions are taken in a given system, the CloudCheck solution gains even greater insight.  Machine learning algorithms achieve deeper understanding of a given environment – and to the performance of nodes accessing that environment.  Over the course of days and weeks, the system becomes more intelligent and enable more proactive management approaches.

 

O

Optimization is achieved when a system is capable of reacting to influences in real time, but also to pro-actively adjust settings or alter parameters in order to achieve that “most fully perfect” Wi-Fi environment.

 

R

Resilience.  CloudCheck optimization allows a Wi-Fi system to proactively adapt and change to maintain efficiency.   Service providers can leverage the information in a single optimized environment with the knowledge gained across thousands of such networks in order improve resilience across their entire network, and to maximize the quality of experience (QoE) of all its subscribers.

With CloudCheck, service providers are able to validate performance and changes by measuring, monitoring and scoring QoE across an entire network.

Each element of this approach is dependent on other elements.  The foundation, of course is visibility.  Insight then allows for effective control.  Tuning enables the proactive optimization of an environment.  Optimization allows for automated remediation of issues and proactive adjustments.

 

VICTOR and Mesh

This VICTOR approach applies to all deployment types. The more complex the environment, the more beneficial this approach becomes.  Let’s look at Mesh Wi-Fi Environments as an example:

Visibility – For mesh network management, visibility of all devices and the access points to which they are connected is essential because the topology is more complex than that of non-mesh environments.  This visibility of high value to customer care agents who are addressing subscriber issues over the phone.

Insight – CloudCheck analyzes Wi-Fi Gateway environments and provides recommendations to operators on which subscribers could benefit from Mesh.  In addition, for subscribers who CloudCheck deems as strong candidates for Mesh, the subscriber can be provided with detail on placement and onboarding assistance.

Control – The CloudCheck Agent/Cloud (Layered Cloud) architecture allows operators to leverage the power of the cloud with real-time performance in order to initiate complex mesh-related changes to items such as topology management, steering and roaming across mesh nodes.

Tuning – Historical analysis and predictive recommendations using long term data and device usage patterns in the cloud allow operators to apply learned behaviors to tune mesh networks, set thresholds and establish parameters.   While this is important in a non-mesh (gateway only) network, this is vastly more complex in a mesh environment.  A mesh network with six nodes would have 41,000 possible topologies from which to choose an optimal topology.

Optimization – CloudCheck is hardware agnostic and allows optimization across multi-vendor networks, which is essential in creating a consistent user experience.  As mesh environments and standards evolve, the adoption of multi-vendor approaches will increase.  This underscores the importance of optimization across multi-vendor deployments.

Resilience – The more complex an environment, the greater the need for resilience.  Achieving resilience in a densely congested multi dwelling unit (MDU) or a multi-node mesh environment may require more aggressive steering optimization policies than a rural deployment or single gateway environment.

Service providers can leverage VICTOR which is applicable to all subscriber networks including mesh.  This approach enables service providers to assist their subscribers in achieving the most “fully perfect, functional and efficient” Wi-Fi network possible.


Managing Wi-Fi Across Legacy CPEs with Incognito

ASSIA
Marketing Team

Posted on August 8, 2018

On July 31 ASSIA and Incognito issued a joint press release with the headline:  Incognito and ASSIA Announce Partnership for Proactive Wi-Fi Management.   ASSIA has a complete set of broadband and Wi-Fi management solutions for ISPs and MSOs.  This leaves one to wonder about the importance and value of such a partnership?

In order to better understand the value of such a partnership, let’s delve deeper into the technology benefits of ASSIA’s CloudCheck for Wi-Fi management, and let’s further consider what Incognito brings to the table for service providers.

Challenges of Deploying Wi-Fi Management

Today’s global service providers are faced with an ever-increasing barrage of Wi-Fi related customer care calls.  Operators throughout the world have shared with ASSIA that Wi-Fi problems account for 50% or more of their in-bound customer support inquires.  This creates a heavy resource burden and drives up OPEX for customer care.

The ever-increasing demand on home Wi-Fi networks requires sophisticated and effective solutions that provide visibility and proactively resolve issues through automated optimization across the service provider’s entire subscriber network.   The dynamic nature of Wi-Fi usage across a multitude of devices in the home requires a management solution to operate in real-time and provide intelligent proactive care.

Service providers also want to provide Wi-Fi management across a mix of CPE types, including legacy CPEs and newer models that are deployed in the network.  They are looking for a solution that can address the entire network, without requiring massive upgrades in hardware.

ASSIA has found service providers need Wi-Fi management solutions that offer:

  • Advanced, intelligent, software capabilities that incorporates deep diagnostics, analytics, and learning-base optimization
  • Upgrades and scales across all CPE types as the subscriber network evolves
  • Is simple and easy-to-use, yet flexible , for call centers, agents, and field technicians

Solving for the Impossible?

Vendors in the market today provide a variety of different approaches to address Wi-Fi management.  These approaches include gateway/hardware-based solutions or ACS/TR-069 based methodologies.  While beneficial in some ways, there are shortcomings to these approaches.

Gateway/HW based solutions lack adequate the local compute power and storage to handle sophisticated diagnostics and contextual-based optimization.   Any Wi-Fi management capability is tied to specific CPE models only.

ACS/TR-069 based solutions lack the real-time performance and rich diagnostics and optimization capabilities required for managing residential Wi-Fi today.  Addressing the dynamic performance requirements across millions of homes requires a system that can efficiently scale and optimize Wi-Fi networks across all use cases.

Unlike hardware and TR-069 based solutions, the CloudCheck cloud and agent-based architecture provides the real-time control and management coupled with the historical, machine-learning based optimization.  The CloudCheck software solution allows deployment across all CPEs in the service provider’s entire network.

Benefits of the Incognito Partnership

Incognito offers an ACS system which provides provisioning capability for CPEs across all CPE makes and models based on TR-069 and TR-181.    The joint ASSIA + Incognito solution integrates the ASSIA CloudCheck solution with the Incognito Digital Service Platform, extending a portion of the CloudCheck capabilities across legacy, agent-less devices.  In addition, the integration solution provides a unified customer care interface across both legacy and agent-based CPEs.

Until now, legacy devices have had very limited Wi-Fi management capability.  By extending the CloudCheck solution to the Incognito platform, an operator can have a unified customer care interface to support a subset of CloudCheck capabilities across legacy CPEs as well a comprehensive suite of diagnostics and optimization features across modern CPEs with CloudCheck agents.  This creates a more uniform and consistent care experience across all classes of devices in a service provider’s network.


Deployment of New xDSL Technologies, Challenges and Opportunities

Mehdi Mohseni
Chief Scientist

Posted on July 25, 2018

Deployment of new xDSL technologies, including vectored VDSL or G.vector, Super Vectoring or VDSL2 35b and G.fast is a significant opportunity for broadband service providers as it opens many opportunities for offering new services and enhanced revenue streams. Vectored VDSL and Super Vectoring can deliver rates in the order of 250 Mbps while G.fast is targeting 1Gbps at a significantly lower cost compared to fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) installations. A number of studies suggested that the deployment cost is lower at least by a factor of five for vectored VDSL and by a factor of two for G.fast. Although the deployment cost of these new xDSL technologies is estimated to be substantially lower relative to FTTH, it still represents a major investment, which service providers need to carefully plan, deploy and operate in order to maximize their return on investment (ROI).

Service providers upgrading their access network to vectored VDSL or G.fast are faced with various challenges for achieving their desired ROI. The main challenges can be summarized briefly as in the following:

  1. Service qualification: Service providers require reliable projections for data rates that can be delivered for these new services. They rely primarily on attenuation-based qualification rules that predict the achievable rates based on loop attenuation inventory. However, this approach does not take into account the effect of non-crosstalk (alien) noises, physical loop impairments, and inaccuracy of loop inventory data on accuracy of the predictions. As a result, such attenuation-based qualification rules usually have high false positive rates (sunk costs), or if designed conservatively, they would suffer from large false negative rates (lost opportunities).
  2. Outside Plant “grooming”: Service providers require identifying and resolving pre-existing line faults that potentially limit or deteriorate the expected performance gain of these new technologies.
  3. Greater needs for stabilization: Vectoring removes Far-End Crosstalk (FEXT) among the vectored group of lines exposing them to alien and impulsive noise sources that were hidden under FEXT before vectoring. Moreover, G.fast employs a much wider bandwidth compared to VDSL2. This makes G.fast exposed to a bigger set of interference and impulse noise sources that can have serious detrimental impact on the service stability. These additional noises need to be managed to avoid any detrimental impact on the stability of the lines.

DSL Expresse (DSLE) Module Summary

ASSIA’s DSL Expresse™ offers the following various tools and modules to help address these challenges:

  1. Service Recommender and Predictor Module: ASSIA’s Service Recommender Module estimates the viable rates and services that can be offered reliably with new xDSL technologies. With potential shortcomings of attenuation-based qualification rules in predicting services with vectored VDSL and G.fast, ASSIA’s Predictor Module is a reliable tool required to enable the service providers to operate the new lines at the maximum possible rates stably.
  2. Diagnostics module: This diagnostics tool helps to identify loop faults and provide precise guidelines on maintenance actions needed in the outside plant and in-house wiring to enable these new technologies. Loop impairments limit gains from these vectored technologies. Because these technologies transmit over a larger bandwidth and also, they use vectoring to remove crosstalk, the impact of loop impairments is significantly higher on the performance compared to ADSL or VDSL. Moreover, with customer self-installation of CPE equipment, various in-house wiring issues are not cleared and would potentially deteriorate the performance, significantly in some cases; thus, there is a need to identify and resolve wiring and/or noise issues to maximize the gains offered by vectored services. ASSIA’s Diagnostics Module is also capable of analyzing the crosstalk coupling measurements among the vectored group of lines (in addition to DELT data) to identify faults and issues that would impact the performance. The crosstalk analysis provides additional guidelines for cleaning up the faults and wiring issues.
  3. Profile Optimization: The Profile Optimization Module manages and improves the stability. With potential exposure to other sources of non-crosstalk noise, there is a need for this profile optimization tool to monitor and if needed to address the impact of such alien and impulsive noises and avoid any detrimental impact on the stability and performance of the new services. Moreover, as lines are pushed toward their limits in these new deployments, the stability issues become more prominent and would negatively impact the experience of the customer if not properly addressed. G.fast employs G.inp physical-layer retransmission mechanism as standard for offering a more effective protection against impulsive noises. For vectored VDSL, G.inp is an option. ASSIA strongly recommends deploying vectored VDSL together with G.inp physical-layer retransmission mechanism and optimizing the configurations of G.inp for these new deployments to improve the stability of the lines. Unmanaged use of G.inp for both cases may hide performance issues (e.g., throughput drops) that would impact the user experience negatively.

Although any upgrade to a new advanced technology can be challenging and costly even when it leverages already installed copper lines, the use of tools like the modules outlined above available by ASSIA, can make the transmission much smoother while also yielding a higher return on investment.