The XCellAir product is a virtualized and centralized software as a service solution that automates the deployment and operation of HetNets, integrates RRM and SON techniques with those operations, and provides a platform for the delivery of value added services over the network.
Service Providers today supply ~60% of home routers and in most cases Wi-Fi service is completely unmanaged. As such they are suffering from escalating customer care costs and poor customer perception. Lack of radio resource management (RRM), QoS, scalability to efficiently manage millions of APs and limited visibility to understand and troubleshoot Wi-Fi issues has created a huge burden for service providers to support Wi-Fi deployments while delivering sub-optimal Quality of Experience (QoE) to their subscribers. At the same time, they are facing a threat from retail Wi-Fi systems that aim to solve the challenge of easy, reliable, whole home Wi-Fi.
XCellAir brings the concept of Self Organizing Network (SON) from cellular networks and applies it to unlicensed spectrum enabling service assurance for service provider Wi-Fi. XCellRAN provides service providers a complete solution from auto-configuration and healing to congestion/interference mitigation and smart coverage (e.g. steering between bands as well as among multi access points within the home). The end results are the optimal usage of available Wi-Fi capacity, dramatically improved latency, jitter, and throughput, and a significantly enhanced QoE. XCellRAN is a vendor inclusive software solution optimizing networks no matter the Wi-Fi equipment manufacturer and chipset, which ensures utmost flexibility to service providers. This flexibility enables a unified management system for multi-market (residential, homespot, multi-dwelling units (MDU), small and medium business (SMB) and metro areas) and its NFV-style architecture is designed to support millions of access points.
There are two key components of XCellRAN Wi-Fi Architecture:
XCELLRAN SYSTEM ARCHITECTURE
XCellRAN actively tracks and automatically fixes network and access point-level issues before they affect the quality of service for users. It identifies issues through user experience parameters instead of only traditional radio metrics, and considers the impact of APs managed by the operator as well as anything else transmitting in Wi-Fi spectrum (e.g. unmanaged APs, microwave, Bluetooth, etc.) for auto optimization. XCellRAN includes multiple tiers of radio optimization to improve QoE which includes:
Sophisticated RRM ensures service provider managed APs auto tune based on dynamic RF environments ensuring uninterrupted and optimal QoE for their subscribers. Tests conducted at various service provider sites have verified that the XCellRAN RRM-SON solution brings about a dramatic improvement in QoE metrics such as latency, jitter, throughput and VoIP MOS score. Order-of-magnitude improvements are consistently observed, e.g. reduction in latency (up to 10x) and jitter (3x – 5x).
XCellRAN RRO Demo: See how XCellRAN optimizes the use of unlicensed spectrum in congested downtown Montreal.
MULTI-TIER RADIO RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
XCellRAN solution is designed to support multi-AP systems whether the APs are connected via wireless (Extender, Mesh systems) or wired backhaul (MoCA, Ethernet, Powerline) within the home. XCellRAN ensures optimal RF coordination in terms of channel and power across APs and provides seamless client steering technology ensuring best possible Wi-Fi connection for all devices as they roam, significantly improving QoE across the home. With this software approach service providers, not only future-proof their multi-AP solution but introduce a system which co-exists with their existing deployed Wi-Fi equipment drastically improving customer experience. Key features of XCellRAN multi-AP support are:
XCellRAN system can identify if there are any coverage holes, alert service providers if additional APs are needed and assist with secondary AP placement within a home to improve QoE. Besides improving customer satisfaction, once Wi-Fi coverage is assured across the home, service provider will be able to offer newer revenue generating services like Wireless Video Distribution, Home Automation & Security, etc. to their subscribers.
In a dual band environment, Wi-Fi clients associate with a specific band (2.4GHz or 5GHz) on an AP using simplistic metrics like signal strength (RSSI) and do not consider the load on the band before associating. As clients move away from an AP they tend to stick to the band they initially associated with irrespective of signal quality. This is further exacerbated in a multi-AP scenario as clients typically tend to stick to the band they originally associated with even while roaming. This creates load imbalance across the bands and APs, degrades quality of experience for all devices while underutilizing overall network capacity.
XCellRAN supports band and client steering – the identification of whether a new Wi-Fi client should be added to a specific band based on signal quality, bandwidth, capacity constraints – and load balancing – seamlessly shifting clients across APs and/or bands (i.e. 2.4GHz and 5GHz). XCellRAN offers network assistance to wide variety of Wi-Fi enabled devices while association, post-association based on changing load conditions and while roaming across the network which ensures highest QoE for individual devices as well as maintaining high network performance. Steering clients from one band to other or across APs is achieved without installing any software or changes to the Wi-Fi clients. System provides complete steering statistics and uses this to identify and log sticky clients. This enables deeper visibility into individual client behavior for customer care team.
XCellRAN’s auto-provisioning feature ensures seamless plug-and-play experience for all service provider Wi-Fi devices. Configuration management allows service providers to set and modify AP and system level parameters. Using easy-to-use screens, the operator can set and change parameters like SSID, operating channel, transmit power level, server and MAC addresses, backhaul configuration, manufacturer ID and other parameters – individually for the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands. The system supports the ability to create profiles for groups of APs, and apply a common set of parameter values to all the APs in a group.
XCellRAN also provides an auto-healing feature that allows automated actions to be taken in case of exception conditions to improve reliability. During operation, the system consistently checks for potential failure conditions and enacts the pre-configured recovery procedure to ensure a reliable service without user intervention.
These features enable quick and easy install and automate recovery procedures significantly improving customer experience and reducing overall customer care expense.
Service Providers are facing a huge OPEX challenge in terms of Wi-Fi management and operation due to limited visibility. Today there is almost no information about the home Wi-Fi networks or across an operator’s Wi-Fi footprint in terms of network performance, capacity utilization, coverage, and so on.
XCellRAN system provides extensive analytics and key performance indicators (i.e. KPIs) for the entire Wi-Fi network. This includes information at the Network, Region (i.e. user selectable area), individual home, CPE/AP and client levels. This rich set of data is exposed to service providers via state of the art user interface. XCellRAN implements a common set of capabilities across all the analytics tools, which includes:
This comprehensive visibility from the network-of-networks down to an individual client device delivering actionable insights significantly improves customer care experience by having access to all the meaningful data in real-time and historically. This rich set of data can be used by various service provider teams to improve installation procedure, self-service customer care portal or by marketing teams to understand customer usage and trends.
For more information on the XCellRAN solutions for specific technologies: