Converged Service Management: Wi-Fi Speed Boost (2023)

By Rahil Gandotra, CableLabs; Yunjung Yi, CableLabs

Two network paradigms are transforming service provider networks. First, is the transition of network functionalities being implemented as legacy physical appliances to virtualized functions running on commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware. Deploying or updating physical appliances forces operators to substantially increase both capital and operating expenditures due to the need of specialized hardware that are expensive, have high energy costs, and have limited scope for adding new functionalities [1]. Virtualizing network functions as software-based applications allows modularity and isolation of each function enabling enhanced management, network optimization, and cost reduction. Second, is the decoupling of control plane from the user plane, and the shift of closed inter-function interfaces to open standards-based interfaces. This enables the network control to be directly programmable, agile, and centrally managed, and a unified interconnection standard for white-box hardware and open-source software elements from different vendors [2]. This transformation benefits the operators by allowing for faster time to deployment, enabling enhanced flexibility, and giving them the ability to offer novel differentiated services to their users. An important requirement to realize this new paradigm is the capability to manage different access domains, such as cable and mobile, from a central management platform. While traditionally different network domains have operated in their own siloes, enabling operations convergence involves developing a common framework for deploying, configuring, and managing network functions constituting a service. Employing network domain-specific solutions with dedicated teams to provision and manage each different access service leads to a disjointed model of network management which is challenged by operational economics. Typically, domain-specific management systems, such as for cable or mobile networks, do not have the visibility or control over other domains for fault, configuration, accounting, performance and security (FCAPS) tasks, and a central management entity can enable that inter-domain communication to achieve multi-access convergence. The Converged Service Management Layer (CSML) project aims to harmonize the management of multi-domain services by providing a single comprehensive framework to model end-to-end services and abstracting and automating the control and management of physical and virtual resources [3]. The primary goal of the project is to demonstrate the importance of converged service operations by developing novel use cases on differentiated service offerings enabled through enhanced operational agility. CSML is envisioned to act as a master Element Management System (EMS) communicating with various domain-specific infrastructure layers, EMS, and network functions in order to develop converged services. CSML consists of a service orchestrator which leverages different workload and network orchestrators to deploy and manage services comprising of multiple functions operating in different network domains. Figure 1 illustrates the high-level concept of CSML. Different types of network functions – Physical Network Function (PNF) or Cloud-native Network Functions (CNF) – can be deployed in different zones – centralized cloud or headend or customer premises – in different network domains – cable or mobile. CSML enables the deployment of new services that converge different accesses allowing for improved quality of service for operators and seamless user experiences for subscribers. As part of the CSML project, multiple proof-of-concepts (PoC) were developed, described in section 2, to demonstrate the converged management capability in novel use cases. This paper presents details on one use case on Wi-Fi speed boost. The motivation behind this use case was to provide the operators with the ability to incentivize their subscribers who have purchased both of their mobile and home Internet services. We extend the last PoC developed on dynamic cable speed boost by incorporating 5G core (5GC) and Wi-Fi access point (AP) into the framework to make the triggering of the speed boost more dynamic. The paper examines the mechanisms developed for identifying mobile devices connecting to an operator’s Wi-Fi network and activating cable speed boost for that device in an automated way.

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