Testing Wi-Fi Upgrades for Latency and Throughput - Evaluating OFDMA for Latency Improvements (2022)

By Matt Brooks, David Williams; CommScope

Subscriber satisfaction is increasingly about delivering services with the right latency and throughput characteristics. So, how does Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) technology deliver this in the home? This paper analyzes empirical testing within a home using typical Wi-Fi clients, focusing on latency and throughput with real-world traffic patterns.

OFDMA in Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E allows for simultaneous transmissions on all spatial streams for each device and subsequently results in lower latency and less contention of airtime. When using both Wi-Fi 6 clients and legacy clients with OFDMA enabled, the latency and jitter improvements are still seen. Wi-Fi 6E access points and clients fully realize OFDMA latency reduction with 6 GHz greenfield spectrum.

The results of testing empirically focus on latency, throughput, and application performance for each WiFi standard and OFDMA setting and showcase use cases of traffic patterns in a house with different client utilizations. By showing latency for a given client while changing only the access point mode and OFDMA settings, a latency reduction is realized in homogeneous client environments as well as mixed client environments. This paper will explain a method for evaluating OFDMA without expensive test equipment or ideal lab setups while providing decision points for when to invest in Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 6E access points and when to expect an improvement from enabling OFDMA.

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