WBA white paper explores quality over wifi

  • October 16, 2023
  • Steve Rogerson

The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) has publicly released a white paper that explores how network operators can meet quality requirements for use cases such as gaming, residential broadband, live 4K video, enterprise, airports, stadiums and more.

The “E2E QoS Improvement: Optimizing QoS Over Wifi” white paper was initially published in May for WBA members but is now available as a free download from wballiance.com/e2e-qos-improvement-optimizing-qos-over-wi-fi.

Operators and enterprises can use QoS as a market differentiator to attract and retain customers, such as business travellers who need reliable, high-performance wifi in airports. Enterprises need wifi networks that can provide the right QoS for each application, such as prioritising HD video collaboration sessions over email and file transfers. And home wifi networks need to balance bandwidth-intensive, latency-sensitive applications, including multiplayer gaming, 4K streaming and remote work videoconferencing, often simultaneously.

End-to-end (E2E) QoS includes the application, such as cloud gaming or streaming video, wifi network elements such as access points (APs), and wifi client devices such as mobile phones and laptops. The E2E concept is about providing visibility into and control over the user experience by leveraging QoS mechanisms at each step of a packet’s journey across the wifi ecosystem.

The paper was produced by the WBA E2E Wifi QoS project group, led by Airties and Intel. It presents a phased approach for enabling E2E QoS for residential, enterprise and public use cases, including the key performance indices (KPI) for each one, such as latency, packet loss, jitter and frame rates. The paper explores how application-specific QoS mechanisms can co-exist on the same network with applications that are not QoS sensitive, such as streaming video alongside email.

For example, the paper describes potential KPIs for gaming such as freeze count, which is two consecutive rendered frames that are not received by the client within a defined amount of time, such as 180ms in the case of Facebook Wild Hunt. Another example is motion to photon latency, which is the time interval between when a player takes an action and the moment at which the player can see the corresponding frame on screen. If these KPIs aren’t met, it lays out mitigation strategies for the different scenarios.

The paper discusses the use of ITU-T SG12 recommendations and corresponding tools to access objective mean opinion scores the QoS streams during the trials.

The paper also discusses two key outcomes from the trials. The first is quantifying how they improve QoS application performance and reliability, and user experiences. The second is potentially identifying performance bottlenecks that may require enhancements to existing QoS mechanisms or totally new QoS mechanisms. With these discoveries WBA intends to work with standards organisations to develop enhancements to existing or new QoS mechanisms.

Creating enhancements and defining mechanisms will be the focus of a subsequent WBA QoS initiative. The paper outlines the usage scenarios for wifi networks prioritising QoS traffic based on the Wifi Alliance’s QoS management technical specification.

Additional future WBA work includes expanding network topology to incorporate wifi mesh, extending QoS management to non-wifi links for E2E QoS and integrating new QoS management mechanisms from ongoing work in the IEEE802.11 Working Group, Wifi Alliance QoS Management TG and IETF.

“Quality of service is key for virtually every time-sensitive application that uses a wifi network, from video conferencing to gaming to streaming,” said Tiago Rodrigues, WBA CEO. “But each application has its own unique QoS requirements, and this diversity creates challenges for wifi network operators. This new WBA white paper outlines how enhanced and new QoS mechanisms can ensure that each application gets exactly the right bandwidth, prioritisation and other resources it needs to provide end users with consistently great experiences.”

Metin Taskin, CEO at Airties (airties.com), added: “Airties is focused on empowering broadband operators around the globe to enable exceptional wifi experiences, so the WBA E2E Wifi QoS project group is a natural fit for us. This white paper is a roadmap for how operators will be able to upgrade their networks to effectively implement QoS to serve their subscribers.”

And Eric McLaughlin, Intel (www.intel.com) vice president, said: “We are delighted that Intel was able to help in the execution of this paper which highlights the benefits of end-to-end quality of service capabilities across the wifi ecosystem. This aligns well with our products and strategy where we lead in delivering great connected experiences for Intel PC platforms through our Intel Killer and Intel Connectivity Performance Suite software applications, enabling client wifi connection optimisation and traffic prioritisation.”