Allion Labs / Cache Her

As wireless network technologies thrive, most smartphones, computers, tablets, and IoT devices are able to connect to the Internet. According to Cisco Annual Internet Report (2018-2023) White Paper, there will be 3.6 networked devices per capita by 2023, up from 2.4 networked devices per capita in 2018. This means that for a family of four, there can be 14.4 (or more) devices sharing the same home network at the same time. In addition, video streaming, online gaming, and many more applications use a lot of bandwidth. How do we make sure that the quality of Internet won’t get affected as more devices join the wireless network?

5 Key Elements of Solving Wireless Performance Problems

Allion has been developing a wide variety of wireless performance and quality testing solutions for decades. Here, we introduce 5 key elements in our wireless performance test solutions and show real-world test results of throughput, latency, and packet error rate.

1. Multi-device Testing

Different networked devices support different wireless frequencies (2.4 GHz/ 5 GHz), standards (a/b/g/n/ac/ax), or security modes (WPA2/WPA/WEP/OPEN). If a wireless capable device, for example, a router or a modem, happens to be defective, it’s very likely to stop delivering Wi-Fi to the end devices when they join the wireless network at once. Although the number of connected devices is far less than the practical maximum, some devices just cannot connect to the router. What’s worse, the Internet connection might keep dropping for no apparent reason.

To prevent such situations, we conduct multi-device testing in two ways: real and virtual. Real device testing uses actual laptops, tablets, smartphones, or IoT devices that end users will use. In virtual testing, however, simulators or emulators are used to mimic the nature of the actual device.

2. Network Traffic and Performance

After we make sure that all the end devices are connected to the Internet, we need to check whether the end devices have enough bandwidth to run applications.

Common concerns are:

  • Upload and download speeds at different frequency bands (2.4 GHz/ 5 GHz)
  • Quality of Service (QoS): The ability to prioritize different applications or data flows in order to guarantee the optimum level of performance across the networks

Ideally, multiple devices should share the available bandwidth fairly so that the bandwidth will not be allocated to just a few devices.

3. Stability

Not only slow Internet but also unstable connections drive users crazy. Stability issues can lead to customer complaints and even a negative brand perception. To monitor the network environment and Internet quality, Allion has developed a solution which can detect connection drops and packet error rates.

4. Interoperability

Users want to stay connected to the Internet with their smartphones, laptops, tablets, IoT devices, you name it. Chips and chipsets vary in these devices (Qualcomm, Broadcom, MTK…etc.), so do operating systems (Windows, Android, iOS…etc.). Allion constantly collects mainstream devices from different regions to expand the test bed pool. With our comprehensive interoperability test solutions, we can ensure that your product will perfectly work with various products in your target markets.

5. Latency

Besides speed and stability, latency is also one of the top concerns for many users. Latency is a delay in the transmission of data, and this delay can range widely. For downloading and web surfing, users might not be able to feel the delay. However, when it comes to video calls, live streaming, and online gaming, lagging and stuttering are unacceptable. Latency thus poses a serious threat to user experience and brand perception.

Real-World Test Result Analysis

Based on our accumulated experiences by testing actual products, we will discuss 3 aspects of wireless performance—throughput, latency and packet error rate.

Throughput Performance

The green bar represents the throughput (Mbps) of a single device connected to the wireless network. With 32 devices connected at the same time, the overall performance of uplink and downlink becomes relatively poor because a smaller portion of bandwidth is now assigned to each device. However, this throughput problem can be discovered and solved earlier through rigorous testing.

Latency and Packet Error Rate

When the throughput is less than 10 ms, the data is processed with less delay. However, as 32 devices need to process data simultaneously, the latency time is significantly increased. This is why multi-device testing is essential.

When 32 devices are connected to the wireless network at the same time, latency and packet error rates vary a great deal at different distances.

The 5 key elements for wireless performance are indispensable. If wireless performance testing is conducted at the early stages of product development, the both the product quality and user experience can be enhanced. For more details about wireless performance testing, please feel free to contact us at service@allion.com