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Apr 03 2017

“Please, help us create a reliable, quality Wi-Fi experience”

Twitter: @laurentphilippa

“Why does my Wi-Fi keep dropping at home?”

Wireless access points (APs) – the devices that enable residential Wi-Fi services – currently operate on a limited number of frequency bands (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz; with 60 GHz for Gigabit Wi-Fi expected in the future) and have a limited number of channels available.

When an AP is initially powered on, it automatically selects the channel with the least interference. Because this channel selection is based on the AP’s individual requirements, there is no consideration for the performance of nearby APs.

This can result in overlapping wireless channels that cause delays in data transmissions, reduce throughput and cause drops for neighboring APs. Densely populated neighborhoods and multiple dwelling units (MDUs) exponentially increase the number of wireless APs, threatening to make Wi-Fi service unusable.

Figure 1: ‘Cliques’ are created to simplify the channel allocation process. Manageable APs are shown in blue; unmanageable APs are shown in red.

Apply SON principles to Wi-Fi networks

To address these problems, Nokia has developed a patent-pending technique for assigning optimal channels to APs that provides the best throughput possible, while attempting to minimize the interference caused to neighbouring APs. Based on principles and concepts from the world of cellular data networks, the self-organizing network (SON) automates the planning, configuration, management, optimization and healing of mobile radio access networks (RANs). Nokia has applied SON principles to in-home Wi-Fi networking.

Here is a brief summary of the Nokia Wi-Fi optimization process:

  • Each AP performs a scan to provide some baseline information, such as path loss and a list of ‘manageable’ and ‘unmanageable’ APs. (Unmanageable APs are unavailable for modification, meaning that their settings cannot be changed.)
  • Based on the path loss calculated by the initial scans, APs are automatically grouped into subsets, called ‘cliques’.
  • Channels are assigned to each of the manageable APs within the clique. The AP with the most traffic and interference constraints – as determined by the optimization algorithm – is the first to have a channel assigned, as it is the most difficult to configure.
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    Figure 2: Access points might fall into more than one ‘clique’. For example, AP3 is in Clique # 1 and Clique # 2.

    As each subsequent manageable AP is assigned a channel, there are fewer and fewer constraints to satisfy, so that the overall network interference, capacity, and customer experience are optimized.

Download our latest white paper “Automated Wi-Fi Optimization differentiates your customers’ experience” for a deeper dive.

Optimal Wi-Fi performance + major cost savings

Typically, optimizing the performance of wireless APs improves the Signal to Noise + Interference Ratio (SNIR) by more than 100%, resulting in a 45% improvement in download speed and a 22% improvement in upload speed.1

Performance improvements also translate into improved customer satisfaction and a significant reduction in customer support costs. In fact, this technology can result in savings of more than $1.5 million per year, based on a network with 500,000 wireless APs. To learn more about the potential cost savings, you can read the blog “Optimal Wi-Fi performance leads to significant cost savings”.

Visit our website for more on Nokia Customer Care Solutions.

Share your thoughts on this topic by replying below – or join the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks using #WiFi #Cable #VendorAgnostic #SON

1 Based on lab tests performed by Nokia

About Laurent Philippart

Laurent is a self professed tech-evangelist who drives Nokia’s Autonomous Care strategy and boasts an impressive track record of technology innovation, product incubation, product management and managing fast-moving international teams. He is a DevOps enthusiast, practitioner of rapid software development, and passionate about mathematics, artificial intelligence and cosmology.