May 20, 2020
Open standards development organisation Broadband Forum is making key progress on delivering a vastly-improved broadband user experience with two new specifications nearing completion. Covering Quality Attenuation and IP Capacity Metrics and Measurements, the specifications will enable operators to achieve enhanced network performance by moving away from the conventional metric of capacity or ‘speed’, in favour of real time monitoring of network performance and operation.
Ahead of the new technical specifications – Quality Attenuation Architecture and Requirements (WT-452.1) and Maximum IP-Layer Capacity Metric, Related Metrics, and Measurements (WT-471) – Broadband Forum’s Access and Transport Architecture (ATA) Work Area has released two new white papers from its Performance, Experience and Application Testing (PEAT) Project Stream.
The work builds on Broadband Forum’s Quality Experience Delivered (QED) initiative which looks beyond conventional measurements to improve the overall broadband experience and improve management of network latency, consistency, predictability and reliability. These new approaches for network measurement and monitoring drive input into service provider operations systems and will increasingly provide the data used for machine learning, analytics, and AI to provide nearly real time feedback into the network operations. This will support operators in gauging application performance, for example, a video call, and ensure networks adapt to changing application traffic loads to always deliver the best performance to the subscriber.
“While capacity or speed is necessary, what customers actually want is for all their applications to just work consistently well; such as video streams without glitches or buffering, video calls, remote working, or uninterrupted gaming,” notes Gavin Young, Head of Fixed Access Centre of Excellence – Vodafone. “As emphasis is increasingly placed on the quality of broadband, operators can no longer differentiate on capacity alone, and instead must look to also measure and manage the reliability, network responsiveness, consistency and predictability of the services offered.”
The first white paper, Motivation for Quality Verified Broadband Services (Broadband QED) (MR-452.1), describes the motivation for Broadband Forum’s work on quality-based broadband delivery with a specific focus on a measurement and analysis framework known as Quality Attenuation. This will enable a high fidelity analysis to allow operators to gain greater understanding of network performance which, in turn, can help them focus their resources in the design and operation of their networks to improve overall customer experience.
The Maximum IP-Layer Capacity Metric and Measurement (MR-471.1) white paper looks at Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) in measuring connectivity capacity and the issues it introduces, in particular measuring connectivity at 1 gigabit/sec and above. Up until recently, TCP was the basis for capacity testing and is used in a number of commercially available ‘speed tests’. The white paper describes the motivation behind using User Datagram Protocol (UDP)-based IP Capacity metrics and measurement methods. According to the white paper, the new Maximum IP-Layer Capacity Metric and Method(s) of Measurement based on UDP closes the gap between actual service rates and TCP’s underestimations, removing the issues noted.
“The new metrics and measurement method can measure the new Gigabit services and beyond without the artefacts of TCP performance, such as its throughput sensitivity to packet loss, round-trip time and its flow control details,” advises Al Morton, Lead Member of Technical Staff at AT&T. “In addition, it measures other important performance metrics beyond speed.”
The work is continuing for both projects, including data models, open source development and additional market updates