The emergence of new bandwidth-intensive services being demanded by consumers all around the world cannot be addressed by simply fielding the next generation of broadband access services. Delivering an excellent consumer experience will require network service providers (NSPs) to integrate the latest Wi-Fi technologies if they are to ensure a consistent high-performance service throughout the home.
Within homes all over the world, there has been a sharp increase in client devices that include mobile phones, tablets, and IoT sensors. The combined consumption of media – which ranges from HD, 4k and 8K in certain countries – along with the growing interest in VR and AR, require much higher bandwidth in these multi-client environments.
These new consumer behaviors and customer demands place new bandwidth requirements for broadband access. However, these trends also raise the bar for how Wi-Fi networks handle the increased bandwidth and complexity of traffic that is flowing within the home, and back to the wide-area network.
Current Wi-Fi technologies are not in a position to effectively handle this new workload. That is because today's Wi-Fi technology – those based on 802.11n and 802.11ac, for instance -- rely on a protocol called 'Listen Before Talk.'
This protocol requires each client to check and see if any other device is using the wireless network – and if no other device is using the resource -- it proceeds with its transmission.
The challenge comes when two or more clients try to transmit at the same time. Then there are collisions, and these collisions require clients to retransmit. This scenario becomes more common as the number of clients in a home that interact with the Wi-Fi network rises. Performance of the network and the devices then degrades.
The good news is that the emerging set of Wi-Fi solutions based on the new 802.11ax standard addresses the issues presented by high bandwidth consumption in multi-client environments.
The beauty of 802.11ax, is its incorporation of orthogonal frequency-division multiple access (OFDMA) technology. It uses a modulation process that is similar to how LTE mobile networks operate. OFDMA creates many sub channels within one channel and dynamically assigns every client a different band depending on its need.
It is a technology that NSPs should be looking at carefully as they deploy new broadband access technologies based on 10 gigabit passive optical networking (10-GPON), and the second generation of G.Fast solutions -- which doubles the throughput of an existing copper infrastructure to support speeds of up to 2 gigabits per second.
During the BBWF 2017 conference in Berlin, Technicolor showcased technologies based on 10G-PON and G.Fast 212, and presented a LIVE demonstration of Technicolor’s first 802.11ax and G.Fast 212 gateways. It clearly illustrated the benefits of OFDMA in a dense multi-client home environment.