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Vodafone Hopes to Make Future Broadband Networks Invisible

Saturday, January 19th, 2019 (12:01 am) - Score 4,534
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Vodafone has said that ISPs need to “look beyond speed” and “make the network invisible so users don’t even know it is there“. The operator was speaking at the launch of a new project – Broadband Quality Experience Delivered (BQED) – that aims to “greatly enhance” the quality of experience broadband networks provide.

The Broadband QED project is being launched by the Broadband Forum, but it will be led by Vodafone and Predictable Network Solutions (PNSol), while other forum members are also expected to take part. Rather than looking at service speeds, BQED will instead use Quality Attenuation to focus on “addressing factors such as latency, consistency, predictability and reliability.”

Quality Attenuation (QA) is a framework for capturing, measuring, managing and manipulating the performance aspects of networks, as well as the services they enable. Vodafone is understood to have already conducted QA trials over a range of fixed access technologies in its own network, which has helped them to identify performance characteristics that “traditional” packet layer performance techniques and tools failed to spot.

Gavin Young, Head of Voda’s Fixed Access Centre, said:

“As an industry we’ve increased the speed of broadband to one gigabit and beyond, which is a remarkable achievement, but we now have to look beyond speed.

Historically, we have looked at data rate and ping time but now, as new applications place more strain on networks, we need to make the network invisible so users don’t even know it is there – we want to get to a place where everything just works.

That means we need to improve other aspects of quality such as latency, consistency, predictability and reliability, ultimately moving from a fast network to an invisible network.”

Geoff Burke, Broadband Forum CMO, said:

“Our renewed focus on network quality of experience emphasizes Broadband Forum’s commitment to ensuring the whole network – from the Cloud Central Office to the Connected Home – is prepared for growing technologies and trends such as 5G and proliferation of connected devices.”

At this point all that talk about needing to “look beyond speed” is largely industry focused in its direction and most consumers have yet to gain access to Gigabit (1Gbps+) class broadband speeds. As such the idea of networks becoming “invisible“, from the perspective of many end-users, is still a long way off. But from a technology standpoint they’re thinking about the future, when “full fibre” and 5G networks could be so fast that you end up noticing other factors than the connection speed.

Initially the project is only expected to result in a study document, giving a comprehensive overview of BQED and its applicability to broadband networks. This will cover the theory, measurement technique, use-cases and benefits of the approach. Later a second phase will consider specific applicability to the various Broadband Forum Work Areas (new technologies, standards etc.).

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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14 Responses
  1. Avatar CarlT

    They would do well to fix the congestion in their fixed line network before worrying about this. This isn’t uncommon: QoE / Quality of Experience metrics.

    Basically comes down to latency, packet loss, jitter and framing those in the context of applications users use.

    Good to see Vodafone looking at this but 4 or so years behind software defined WANs 🙂

  2. Avatar Chris @ EcomFTTP

    Echoing my comments on Twitter, our usual customer experience on switch on us that they immediately notice how poor their Wi-Fi coverage is which in most cases is the weak link in the chain. Especially so if they insist we put our router next to where they ‘have always had it’ which often isn’t near the place they actually use their devices. This is at ~300mbps service levels; I would hate to think what would happen if we delivered 1gbps (which is no problem for us technically) and the customer realised their ancient iPhone can only achieve sub-100mbps via 2.4GHz Wi-Fi at the other end of their house.

    • Avatar Joe

      On your last point its why some ISPs already off mesh or similar whole home packages and more will (willingly or unwillingly!) in the future. They get the blame for customers walls/floors etc limiting the speeds otherwise.

    • Avatar Joe

      (Ed. for clarity) An old phone is still an old phones but mesh or similar tends to give customers a closer approximation to their expectations of speed esp in a multi device household.

  3. Avatar Emperor

    Vodafone have the equipment necessary to do it,this country is only limited by the laws and monopole of BT.There is some factors that people moan about there is a box ,pole in front of they’re house and many other things.in my area i cannot get Virginia Media for example,the box is literally 0.5 mile from my house,but council rejects planning permission for them every year,so stuck on BT grand 63mbs

    • Avatar TheFacts

      Code Powers mean a company can install.

    • Avatar CarlT

      Planning permission needed for street furniture in conservation areas.

    • Avatar New_Londoner

      @CarlIT
      Unless the rules have changed again recently you don’t need planning permission for fibre broadband-related street furniture in conservation areas. I think this was amended in around 2013 or thereabouts? You just need to notify the planning department, wait 30 days and then apply to the highways authority for a streetworks permit.

  4. Avatar Badge

    Is this just another spin on dpi and traffic management. They should ask plusnet or sky how they do it….

  5. Avatar Crimson

    That Vodafone have been conducting live trial within their existing network is interesting. For the last few months Vodafone customers have seen their peak time internet routing going bonkers. Off-peak a traceroute to bbc.co.uk could take 8 hops or less. During peak that number of hops could increase to the mid 20’s, all but the last few internally within the Vodafone/C&W network. This odd, and long routing often including servers in Hong Kong, Aukland NZ, and SanFransisco.

  6. Avatar Michael V

    I want to see WiFi hubs capable of covering a much larger area. on 2.4ghz & Especially the 5GHz band. I live in a ground floor apartment with concrete walls & the signal breaks down due to that more than brick. I got two WiFi extenders. So my home WiFi networks are far from invisible!

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