CableLabs forges agnostic wireless connection for operators
In another example of the cable industry’s pursuit of network and service convergence, CableLabs has introduced an access network-agnostic platform that’s designed to help mobile users seamlessly move across Wi-Fi, LTE, CBRS and, potentially, C-band-based wireless network connections on an application-by-application basis.
That offering, called Intelligent Wireless Network Steering (IWiNS), also fits into the cable industry’s broader “10G” initiative, Phil McKinney, president and CEO of CableLabs, explained in a recent press briefing.
10G is focused on the delivery of symmetrical multi-gigabit speeds along with enhanced security and low latency capabilities. In addition to targeting cable’s widely deployed hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) networks, 10G is also being built to support fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) and wireless networks.
IWiNS is surfacing as US cable operators continue to add wireless and mobile to their arsenals, including ongoing deployments of Wi-Fi access points, the launch of mobile services via MVNO partnerships and plans to deploy wireless/mobile networks that take advantage of licensed and unlicensed CBRS spectrum. IWiNS is also taking shape as US cable operators participate in the auction for C-band spectrum. Additionally, about half of CableLabs’s 65 members worldwide are mobile network operators (MNOs) in their own right.
IWiNS is a “milestone” for the industry’s 10G efforts, McKinney said, noting that work on the project got underway back in 2018.
He said the technology uses adaptive traffic steering that allows customers to automatically maintain a solid broadband experience across a wide range of devices when in the presence of overlapping wireless access network technologies.
And rather than performing a simple handoff between those various types of access networks, IWiNS uses anonymized crowd sourcing data and real-time reporting of traffic congestion to effectively re-route the customer to the most optimized experience, McKinney said. As a step further, the technology is also designed to steer mobile traffic based on specific applications, such as videoconferencing or simple web browsing, dependent on their individual needs or demands for upstream or downstream capacity and even lower latencies, he said.
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