Cable companies like Comcast are activating subscribers home wireless routers to broadcast two SSIDs, the subscriber SSID and a public hotspot SSID for guest/public use. This initiative, called the Community WiFi initiative, is a “shared spectrum experience” – which means that users on both sets of SSIDs, the subscriber and anyone who accesses the public hotspot, are sharing spectrum. This can cause serious performance issues for the subscriber (the person who is actually paying for the service & router). The problems that are being caused by individual routers broadcasting public hotspots was recently addressed in an article published by Light Reading: How Home Hotspots Could Hit Hurdles:
“Imagine a public user 50 feet away from an access point wants to upload a photo to Facebook while the owner of the home hotspot is trying to send email only 10 feet away. Because WiFi is egalitarian, if the guest user grabs the upstream channel first, it creates congestion on the network, making it difficult for the home subscriber to send email.” – CableLabs architect Vivek Ganti
This is very pertinent to the MDU/ MTU industry in regards to WiFi calling as a voice solution for residents. If a subscriber attempts to make a voice call from their apartment over an individual router, but another user is connecting to their guest SSID, the resident may not be able to make a call or service could be unreliable. In order for WiFi to work as a voice solution, it needs to be managed with QOS to ensure that voice service gets prioritized over the network and is not sacrificed for data. Learn more about WiFi Callling.
Comcast has admitted that home hotspots could experience network congestion when guest users log on to the public hotspots. Charlie Douglas, executive director of corporate communications at Comcast confirmed the issues, saying:
“‘If you were at a baseball stadium, and it was empty, and the WiFi was on, and you were there by yourself, you would have an amazing experience,’ but, he continued, if the stadium filled up, your experience would slow down.”
Douglas references exactly why network management and QOS are essential to not only voice service but to data usage as well over WiFi as well. There needs to be network management behind the scenes ensuring that bandwidth is being allocated for the usage that is occurring and that voice packets are prioritized over data packets.