Jennifer Steele

Keeping customers on the Wi-Fi network has never been more critical. With multiple system operators (MSOs) paying an estimated $500 million to $1 billion annually to mobile network operators in order to deliver those “must-have” cellular service options or go the extra mile to innovate with highly customized data plans, the opportunity and luxury to offload traffic onto a healthy and high-performing Wi-Fi network will dramatically lessen the financial burden.

At NETSCOUT’S ENGAGE 2022 technology and user summit in April, Praveen Chandel, director of service provider analytics and cloud solutions at NETSCOUT, introduced four key areas MSOs need to consider when monitoring and improving the Wi-Fi user experience.

With a focus on Wireless Access Gateways (WAGs) and Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS) links, Chandel highlighted the importance of full visibility that encompasses both the control and user planes in areas of instrumentation, accessibility, usability, and retainability.

MSO Wi-Fi Network
  • Instrumentation: Complete visibility is possible only with pervasiveness. When you have sightlines to all of the WAGs and all the RADIUS servers in your network, you gain a better understanding of how users are actually experiencing the network in both large and small markets. Ideally, this instrumentation layer should limit manual configuration tasks. The best solutions for Wi-Fi monitoring “learn the network” and its performance characteristics. This approach eliminates time-consuming and error-prone provisioning of the monitoring solution with media access control (MAC) addresses, access points, IP addresses, associated virtual local area network (VLAN) connections, and the breadth of unique client devices including handsets and laptops.
  • Accessibility: The control plane also plays a critical part in the Wi-Fi user experience in that it ultimately determines whether a user is able to connect properly and quickly to the Wi-Fi network. With a focus on login experience; Differentiated Services Code Point (DSCP) responsiveness; authentication, authorization, and accounting (AAA) confirmation; and quality and latency measurements for the various Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) techniques employed on the RADIUS interfaces, solutions with an accessibility component can build and bolster competitive advantage.
  • Usability: It isn’t enough for users to connect to and authenticate with the Wi-Fi network. The real “experience” happens when customers begin using the internet. This is where attention to user plane traffic visibility takes center stage. By monitoring the user plane traffic coming from subscribers, you can begin to track last-mile performance in terms of latency, throughput, and packet loss. By honing in on average throughput and transport retransmissions, for example, you can begin to paint a picture of exactly how the Wi-Fi is performing from the subscriber’s point of view.
  • Retainability: Great Wi-Fi monitoring solutions also prioritize retainability with proactive tools that enable swift and accurate troubleshooting when performance issues occur. With leading indicators and alerts, your team is better equipped to identify service degradation with the potential to impact customer experience. Solutions with the ability to look at emerging performance issues in multiple dimensions—by region, by market, by access point vendors, and by software versions—have a clear advantage and ultimately reduce the mean time to knowledge (MTTK) and compress the mean time to repair (MTTR) when warranted.
Four Pillars of Monitoring the Wi-Fi Experience

The Payoff

When MSOs adopt a comprehensive and customer-focused Wi-Fi assurance solution, they will realize the following benefits:

  • Subscribers that are genuinely happy with the service experience and stay on the Wi-Fi network instead of switching to LTE/5G networks and increasing your MNO costs 
  • Multidimensional insights into key service experience aspects that accelerate the time to market for innovation with closely monitored lab and field trials
  • Secured and protected small to medium-size business (SMB) customer loyalty and high performance that exceeds SLA compliance and expectations, helping to avoid penalties

Learn more about how NETSCOUT’s solution assists MSOs with visibility into the entire life cycle of Wi-Fi rollouts.

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