At its third-quarter meeting in Milan, the Broadband Forum shared advances in its Quality of Experience Delivered (Broadband QED) initiative.
Vendor OutSys -- which says it implements, simplifies and accelerates integration, provisioning, management and testing processes -- performed a "Practical Implementation Demonstration," designed to provide operators with in-depth analysis they can use to further improve broadband experience by going beyond traditional metrics such as latency and jitter.
Broadband Forum also published Application Layer Test Traffic Architecture and Requirements Technical Report (TR-421). This document defines the architecture and requirements service providers' need to specify test traffic and measurements associated with the application layer; this is a critical area for broadband service quality, but it's an area that's traditionally been overlooked, according to the forum.
Broadband QED uses Quality Attenuation to focus on carriers' need for improved performance measures and analysis for their next-gen broadband infrastructure. In addition to common metrics like latency and jitter, Quality Attenuation incorporates newer gauges such as predictability, consistency and reliability. Broadband QED is a framework service providers can use as a skeleton, with distinct components to match against the sources of any performance degradation like packet loss or delay.
"We've had this business model where we take capex to invest in network speed. Applications will arrive and push uses beyond a gigabit. There are all sorts of applications people are looking at… but how many will be mass market and when will they arrive? Gigabit will probably do pretty well for a lot of people for a while," said Gavin Young, head of Fixed Access Centre of Excellence at Vodafone, in an April 2019 interview with Broadband World News when the Broadband QED initiative was announced.
"Rather than spend capex on upgrading someone to higher speeds they may not notice, we may be better off focused on other aspects of the quality of that network," he added. "Having a technique where you can measure that, and more importantly you can mathematically reason about that in an end-to-end fashion and work out where quality might be degraded, where you can improve things, and model that without having to go out and engineer it in a live network and then you can work out before the event how to design things." (See Vodafone: Use Quality Attenuation to Escape Gig Speed Trap.)
The implementation demonstration in Milan featured an emulated small-scale broadband operator network including a subscriber network, access network and core network. OutSys artificially generated network trip-time degradation sources and programmatically adjusted the network to show how providers can conduct measurement and analysis in various situations.
"As new applications place increasing demand on networks, we need to look beyond factors such as data rate and ping time to move from a fast network to a quality network where everything just works," said Fabrizio Guidotti, partner at OutSys, in a statement. "The demonstration for Broadband Forum members represents a significant step in achieving this as it shows operators how Broadband QED can be implemented to perform measurements and analysis in different scenarios."
Broadband Forum's TR-421 report also addresses variations in network traffic that different applications may cause. In video streaming, for example, data transmits in chunks, whereas video conferencing programs send more frequent packets of data at regular intervals. When multiple users tap these two applications on the same network, they exacerbate any drop in Quality of Experience (QoE). TR-421 includes use cases which generate test traffic under realistic conditions, conform to defined model parameters and can be repeated, the Forum said.
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