QoS for Consumer Mobile Apps--Despite Net Neutrality--Is Possible, Even Likely in the Future

LIke it or not, some important consumer applications actually benefit from, and under conditions of congestion, might require, quality of service (packet prioritization) mechanisms. That is true whether “best effort only” is the mandated regulatory regime, or not.

And even where “best effort only” is the law, consumer services increasingly might take advantage of quality of service mechanisms, based on Wi-Fi capabilities.

The Wireless Broadband Alliance, which created the Passpoint standard, also has promulgated quality of service mechanisms. Wi-Fi Certified WMM added quality of service (QoS) functionality in Wi‑Fi networks.

With WMM, introduced in 2004, network administrators and residential users can assign higher priority to real-time traffic such as voice and video, while assigning other data traffic to either best-effort or background priority levels.

Introduced in 2012, WMM-Admission Control further improves the performance of Wi‑Fi networks for real-time data such as voice and video by preventing oversubscription of bandwidth.

Prioritization of traffic includes categories for voice, video, best effort data, and background data, managing access based on those categories.

The business implications are that as more large hotspot networks deploy Passpoint, consumer Internet connections will be supported by quality of service mechanisms provided by the Wi-Fi network, not the access network.

And that makes the QoS lawful.

And many large hotspot network operators presently believe carrier-grade hotspots will represent 57 percent of all their locations, with carrier-grade hotspots accounting for  will support 90 percent of locations by 2020.

Among operators with hotspot networks in place, 57 percent have a timeline in place to deploy a next generation hotspot (Passpoint) standard network, a survey conducted for the Wireless Broadband Alliance finds.

Some 61.5 percent of respondents already have NGH or plan to deploy it over the coming year, while a further 29.5 percent will roll it out in 2017 or 2018.

The dominant business driver is the need to enhance or guarantee customer experience for revenue streams such as  TV everywhere or enterprise services.

Improving customer experience to reduce churn and boost average revenue per account or user was seen as the primary advantage by 28 percent of  respondents.

Seamless access from hotspot to hotspot or hotspot to mobile also was a key concern.

Respondents tend to believe they will be able to generate revenue from location‑based services (69 percent), roaming (68 percent) and Wi‑Fi analytics (66 percent).

Compared to the 2014 survey findings, there is far less emphasis on Wi‑Fi offload, and more on Wi‑Fi first mobility, Wi‑Fi calling and support for entertainment video.

Many consumer services--especially those for which consumers are paying a fee--benefit from QoS mechanisms. Despite network neutrality rules, support for such apps likely is coming. All the technology tools are there to do so on big Wi-Fi hotspot networks.
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