In the WiFi industry, we are very focused on advertising performance in terms of megabits and gigabits. Like the processor wars of the 90s and naughties, we are pushing the story that faster is better. And look where it led the processor industry – unsustainable and ultimately costly strategies towards ever faster, ever hotter, ever costlier processors that added very little incrementally to end user experience.


The reality is that 99% of the customers – with the exception of engineers & nerds – do not think of network performance in terms of megabits or gigabits or Real customers see it in use cases: “how fast can I download this file?”, “how good does this movie play on youtube?”, “will my Lync call go well?” or “how easy it is to search something on Google?”. Ultimately, all this depends on throughput, but there is more to user experience than just throughput numbers.


Customer experience includes every step from the point he or she tries to connect to the Access Point to the speed at which the captive portal allows log-ons, to finally to the experience on a specific application. When we as an industry set out to meet customer expectations, we need to understand what our end users judge us on. However well we do with esoteric settings and technologies, at the end of the day, they are all wrapped within the final user experience.
To address this challenge to testing what matters to the customer, we have to look at completely revamping the focus of WiFi infrastructure validation. I see the following as important to each market segment:


– How many devices can be connected simultaneously
– Youtube performance
– Skype / SIPcall quality
– Facebook update speed
– Torrent performance
The one thing that stands out here is how the number of connected devices in a household has increased exponentially in the last few years. It will not be surprising that we need to support 20 – 30 devices in a household TODAY. This number will definitely grow in the future.


– Initial connection time for 32 devices
– Time to captive portal landing page / destination page
– Browsing time
– File download performance
– Video streaming quality


– E-mail
– Lync / Skype for business calls
– Browsing speed
– Video streaming quality
– File download performance
– Number of simultaneous connections to an AP with a pre-defined SLA


These applications / use cases cover 90% of the network activity that we see in each of these user environments and gives us a robust framework to think what is important to the customer. Please share your thoughts on this differentiated approach that we have discussed above.