Wi-Fi might be king but managed Wi-Fi really rules
Let’s face it: for all our efforts to deliver gigabit broadband speeds over copper, fiber and fixed wireless access, in broadband today, Wi-Fi is king. You can deliver brilliant, low-latency, 1 Gb/s services to the home, but if the Wi-Fi doesn’t extend it to the den where someone is streaming video or gaming, then your customer will not be happy. High-performing, whole-home Wi-Fi has become an essential element of broadband, especially for higher-tier services.
There’s real opportunity in delivering premium in-home Wi-Fi. The better user experience reduces the number of helpdesk calls and truck rolls by an estimated 30 percent; net promotor scores (NPS, indicative of customer satisfaction) increase 10 to 40 percentage points; and the number of premium customers increases by 30-45 percent1.
Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as giving customers a high-end Wi-Fi device, though that certainly helps. Your average customer has no idea how to set up and tweak parameters to get the best performance from it, and it’s still susceptible to all manner of service-degrading interference. Mesh Wi-Fi with multiple access points adds even more complexity. But it’s costly to ship the latest Wi-Fi 6 CPE. Your existing Wi-Fi 5 devices have life left in them and need to be managed as well.
The solution to all this is service provider managed Wi-Fi, a way for you and your customers to get the most out of your broadband. Managed Wi-Fi creates the best possible broadband experience by:
- Automating the Wi-Fi optimization process as much as possible, resulting in a self-optimizing network.
- Dynamically adjusting Wi-Fi settings to mitigate any potential issues and provide the highest throughput to all devices.
- Giving you new tools to effectively manage Wi-Fi related problems when they occur and derive valuable upselling insight.
The optimization needs to happen on two levels. At the device level, you need to be able to detect and mitigate issues. Things like interference from neighboring Wi-Fi or Bluetooth devices, an object placed in front of the router, or even weather radars. The best Wi-Fi devices (like our Nokia WiFi solutions) have in-built intelligence that scans for issues, switching channels when needed, and managing band-steering and client steering in real time to ensure the best performance.
That local optimization is, by nature, reactive. A second level of cloud-based optimization allows you to get proactive. It can collect data from a whole network of Wi-Fi access points every few minutes, analyze that data and take action, driving Wi-Fi parameters, or enforcing policies. That could be adjusting transmit power control, long-term frequency planning, load balancing across channels and bands, and so on. The cloud brings visibility of neighboring Wi-Fi so that the impact of one access point on another can be taken into account. And you can manage different types and brands of access point thanks to the TR-369 common communication protocol, which the industry is transitioning to.
Managed Wi-Fi brings value in several areas. Deploying devices with local intelligence combined with cloud-based optimization avoids complex and costly upgrades further down the line. For new deployments, you can balance the activities that need to be done locally (reactive actions in real-time) against those that can be done proactively in the cloud.
Most in-home Wi-Fi today is Wi-Fi 5 capable. But devices might not be, like webcams that typically only support Wi-Fi 4. But because you can manage the Wi-Fi network from the cloud, you can optimize the way these client devices connect, so you don’t need to start on a costly upgrade of access points. And if the access points don’t have in-built intelligence, the only way to manage their performance is from the cloud. Regardless of technology or vendor, cloud management lets you enforce the correct use of channels, drive devices to the 5 GHz band wherever possible, and ensure devices use an 80 MHz channel width.
The cloud management option allows your helpdesk agents to see inside the Wi-Fi network using real-time protocols like HTTPS or Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT). They can get information about the network topology, connected devices, traffic patterns, and so on, that enable them to pinpoint and resolve issues much more quickly. You can also see across the whole Wi-Fi installed base and get a report, say, of the 100 access points that have been rebooting the most that allows you to investigate and resolve performance issues.
Younger generations today only really know Wi-Fi, not the broadband that powers it. As they become your customers, you need to give them an exemplary Wi-Fi experience. And when you do, not only do you keep them loyal, you reduce your costs, and create a user experience that leads directly to increased revenues. Service provider managed Wi-Fi is the best way to provide the best Wi-Fi.
1 Source: Broadband Forum. “The future Telco – Connected Home 2021 Survey report”