LONDON -- AR/VR World 2016 -- Improvements in network capacity have resulted in higher throughput for operators, according to Yves Bellego, director of network strategy at Orange, but they have also resulted in traffic bottlenecks appearing in different places.
Speaking at Informa's AR/VR World event (colocated with the Broadband World Forum) he said these are the new challenges facing the rollout of advanced video services like virtual reality.
He echoed many of the comments made by another Orange executive, Alain Maloberti, senior vice-president of Orange Labs, who presented next door at the Broadband World Forum earlier this week. Both were comfortable with the evolution of the access network, pointing out that in France they were already offering 500 Mbit/s downstream and anticipating that 1 Gbit/s would be widely available in 2018. In fact, in Slovakia, they already offer 1 Gbit/s.
But Maloberti pointed out that the point of network investment was to ensure a high-quality experience for customers and, if this was not being enabled then it was not a successful exercise. Operators need to look all along the "QoE chain" according to him, to ensure quality from end-to-end.
In the past, network capacity tended to get choked in the access network. Older DSL networks were a constraint for new service deployment and customer experience, as was the 3G radio network, on the mobile side. But now there appeared to be less of a problem in these areas as capacity has increased due to network upgrades. However, the choke points are now in three new areas: the home network, mobile backhaul and the content delivery infrastructure.
Even if Orange is able to get 1 Gbit/s to the home, users are unlikely to be able to enjoy that speed. Numerous factors affect in-home performance, including the number of WiFi interfaces, antennas and device performance issues based on processor speeds, storage (HDD/SSD) performance, RAM etc. And very few people are now connecting via Ethernet interfaces; WiFi has become far more prevalent.
Today, Orange sends technicians with a properly configured laptop and an Ethernet cable to prove to its customers that they are connecting at 500 Mbit/s, because their home network and device set-up doesn't give them anywhere near that speed.
Orange is taking various measures to now address these new bottlenecks. The operator is sending teams to ensure that WiFi coverage within customer homes is adequate. In some cases, multiple routers or access points may be required. It is also looking at installing faster cabling in the home where possible. It's also important to use the right connectivity option, according to Maloberti -- Ethernet 802.3bz or WiFi 802.11 ac/ax/ad -- as these will allow better throughput.
The operator will also ensure QoS for value-added services such as IPTV and VoIP and facilitate the easy pairing of devices.
For mobile services, Orange is working to improve its backbone and fiber backhaul. It is migrating to an all-IP network and now has 100 Gbit/s in its backbone. And it's looking to its CDN to locally cache international traffic to relieve international links and optimize video traffic to lower video bitrates.
The increase in video traffic is having a significant impact on network traffic, and while the larger operators may have addressed access capacity, even in an ultra-broadband world, bottlenecks will remain -- unless operators really take a close look right across the "QoE chain," understanding challenges all the way to the end-user.
— Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation