Pulling the Pieces Together: A Look Back at 2020

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.