The University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL) has introduced a new set of Wi-Fi testing capabilities, reflecting a movement to help service providers and gateway vendors enhance broadband customers’ Wi-Fi broadband experience.
These new Wi-Fi testing capabilities are made possible through UNH-IOL’s acquisition of test and measurement equipment from Octoscope.
By leveraging Octoscope’s equipment, UNH-IOL is aiming to enable repeatable, real-world Wi-Fi scenario testing to satisfy the growing end-user expectations for increased high-capacity, low-latency wireless broadband services.
As Wi-Fi has become the de facto in-home connectivity medium from cable operators and traditional telcos, broadband users view wireless performance as a key factor of their overall broadband internet experience.
Lincoln Lavoie, senior engineer UNH-IOL, told FierceTelecom that service providers and wireless gateway vendors are taking more notice in delivering in-home Wi-Fi connectivity for their broadband customers.
“You’re seeing a lot of the service providers and the equipment vendor community focus on wireless, especially in broadband deployments because it is really becoming analogous of what it means to be connected to the network,” Lavoie said. “Performance is a crucial factor in measuring the user’s quality of experience (QoE).”
Because of these consumer expectations, Lavoie said that service providers and vendors are looking to improve and accelerate the Wi-Fi testing processes.
“As the industry moves to a more agile development cycle and upgrading firmware versions, it makes it easier for people to have a continuous checking of the technology and see how things are performing,” Lavoie said. “You’re also seeing service providers bring some of these types of services into the portfolio in terms of selling that connected home or Wi-Fi in the home performance and all those things drove us to target these new Wi-Fi testing capabilities.”
Widening in-home coverage
To address consumers’ desire for higher speed Wi-Fi and network reliability, the advent of new standards like IEEE 802.11ac will start to have an impact.
The standard has multistation throughput of at least 1 Gbps and single-link throughput of at least 500 Mbps as well as greater range inside of a home.
UNH-IOL said the advent of new wireless technologies like IEEE 802.11ac, has increased the number of factors that can directly impact Wi-Fi performance.
At the same time, the advent of router and gateway vendors developing wireless repeaters that allow users to further enhance Wi-Fi coverage in a home. Some vendors like eero have a product that can automatically connects to one another to create a single wireless mesh network that covers the home. A set of three eeros will typically cover the average home (3,000-4,000 square feet), for example.
“We have seen with 802.11ac where there’s only the 5 GHz technology, customers get a slight decrease in coverage in terms of range and penetrating through walls because of that increase in the frequency,” Lavoie said. “That’s what’s driving the push to have those wireless repeaters in the home.”
Lavoie added that testing the capabilities of repeaters will be the next area UNH-IOL’s Wi-Fi broadband testing.
“I think that’s going to probably be the next approach to the testing where you’re seeing the industry really push for having multiple access point solutions in broadband deployments to get that coverage into larger homes,” Lavoie said.
Several technology forums have been developing protocols to manage the interactions between access points and repeaters inside of a home like what would exist in a business’ LAN.