WiFi, Heal Thyself

Oct. 8, 2014
As cable operators expand their WiFi capabilities and look toward becoming a viable mobile services alternative, they could learn a thing or two ...
As cable operators expand their WiFi capabilities and look toward becoming a viable mobile services alternative, they could learn a thing or two from the wireless carriers, particularly when it comes to the concept of a self-optimizing network (SON).

"They can apply things that are done in the mobile arena ... auto-node recognition, self-healing, optimization of the network," said Ken Roulier, Amdocs' (NASDAQ:DOX) CTO for broadband, cable and satellite. "This needs to be done in WiFi. (Cable operators) need to know that the access points are up and that people are connecting to them."

WiFi SON would utilize something called automatic neighbor relations, which means the access points have intelligence about the channels and RF power, etc., of those surrounding them. "They all can adjust together to remain harmonious," Roulier said. "If there is high bandwidth usage, (the system) could find a less competitive data path for whoever the consumer is."

Aside from access point communication, operators also must have an effective way to plan a rollout so there aren't any weak spots or capacity gaps, Roulier said. "Do you have the inventory in place? Is there enough bandwidth? Do you need a (node) split? The industry as a whole has been manually rolling out." A WiFi SON could help with automation.

In addition, with 30%-40% of calls to call centers being WiFi related, customer service representatives need to be empowered with the necessary data to help customers. "Wouldn't it be great to go beyond and before the (customer) calls? How about sending a message? The customer gets a proactive notification, the situation is remedied, and the operator is happy with one less call to support," Roulier said.

By leveraging geo-location and customer experience analytics, a WiFi SON could accomplish this and perhaps even give MSOs a competitive advantage, Roulier added, noting that the four key components to a successful service are rollout, management, optimization and monetization - all of which a WiFi SON could help with.

"People will pay for a cable service so they don't have to dip into their 4G allotments," Roulier said. "(But can I give) a quality mobile service with 100 Mbps download speed ... (or even) a 10 Mbps download?"

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