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Vodafone and PNSol champion new ‘invisble network’ broadband project

17 Jan 2019

Broadband Forum has launched a new project – Broadband Quality Experience Delivered (Broadband QED) – which will be led by Vodafone and Predictable Network Solutions (PNSol). The initiative brings together one of the Broadband Forum's oldest members with one of its newest to create an "invisible" network that will supposedly enhance the quality of experience broadband networks provide.

Focused on addressing factors such as latency, consistency, predictability and reliability, Broadband QED will use Quality Attenuation to look beyond just data rate and deliver greater insight into the quality of experience and application outcomes. Quality Attenuation is a framework for capturing, measuring, managing and manipulating the performance aspects of networks, as well as the services they enable.

Vodafone and PNSol will take the lead on the work after initiating the project at the Broadband Forum's latest quarterly meeting in Glasgow, Scotland, and will be joined by a variety of other Forum members who are global leaders in the access and testing domains. 

Vodafone has already trialled Quality Attenuation over a range of fixed access technologies in its own network and has successfully used it to identify broadband performance characteristics that "traditional" packet layer performance techniques and tools failed to reveal.

"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," said Gavin Young, Head of Fixed Access Centre of Excellence at Vodafone. 

"Historically, we have looked at the 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."

The project will deliver a study document giving a comprehensive overview of Broadband QED and its applicability to broadband networks. 

This will cover the theory, measurement technique, use-cases and benefits of the approach. The second phase will consider specific applicability to the various Broadband Forum Work Areas.

The Broadband QED project is just one part of Broadband Forum's focus on the quality of experience. A recently published Market Report on Application Layer Testing (ALT) highlighted that the confluence of new networking technologies, architectures, and applications is creating an urgent need for standards in ALT. The ultimate goal of this would be to enable operators to deliver better, more consistent quality of experience to end-users.

"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," said Geoff Burke, Broadband Forum CMO. 

"Broadband QED is an excellent initiative which marks a significant turning point for broadband as operators begin to turn their attention from speed to other elements of connectivity to create a world-class broadband experience for their customers."

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