Analyzing operator QoS deployment scenarios between Wi-Fi® and 5G (2022)

The evolution of new Wi-Fi® generations, such as Wi-Fi 6, and 5G technology combined with the demand for seamless and reliable broadband internet has created opportunities for multiple service operators (MSO), internet service providers (ISP), and mobile network operators (MNO) to offer converged data services to their customers.  Both 4G and 5G system architectures allow users to access services using either cellular or other non-3GPP access such as Wi-Fi. This synergy, called fixed mobile convergence (FMC), enables service providers to streamline their operations and ensure multi-access connectivity over wired or wireless networks. In addition, the 3GPP defined convergence architecture[1] for integrating Wi-Fi access into the 5G system enables operators to offer seamless connectivity over Wi-Fi and 5G for converged services over these access networks.

According to Cisco, by 2023 the total number of global internet connections is projected to grow to 5.3 billion, Wi-Fi speeds are expected to triple, and traffic will grow faster than the number of connections. As result, data consumption is increasing at a staggering pace, but surprisingly, internet service providers’ (ISPs’) average revenue per user (ARPU) is not. Due to competitive offerings from MNOs, multi-service operators (MSOs), and over the top (OTT) players, users have multiple choices, resulting in high customer churn and declining ARPU. In addition to providing traditional triple play services (video, internet, and telephony), ISPs and MSOs are under tremendous pressure to combine enhanced device capabilities, higher bandwidth, and more intelligent networks to enable new value-added services like video streaming, smart home systems, home security, managed Wi-Fi, and health monitoring, as well as the adoption of new applications such as XR and gaming, all while ensuring optimal utilization of resources for these services.

Today, MSOs and ISPs deliver these value-added services to their customers on wired access technologies like data over cable service interface specification (DOCSIS), extended gigabit passive optical network (XG-PON), and extended gigabit symmetrical passive optical network (XGS-PON). They are also considering FMC to help them offer existing and new services while optimizing overall cost. Their customer premises equipment (CPE) in homes and offices needs to deliver these services consistently over Wi-Fi, and one way to achieve this is by prioritizing service flows. With the convergence in wired, Wi-Fi, and mobile access technologies, the CPE should be capable of translating quality of service (QoS) treatments between wired and wireless access networks and between Wi-Fi and 5G access networks to provide a consistent and end-to-end QoS experience.

Wi-Fi Alliance recommends the use of QoS translation/mapping to provide consistent QoS treatment across wired, Wi-Fi, and 5G networks, and for the industry to adopt the features included in Wi-Fi CERTIFIED QoS Management™ to enable robust delivery of services with latency sensitive flows. The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) RFC 8325 defines a mapping between IETF’s differentiated service code point (DSCP) and IEEE 802.11’s user priority (UP), which is then mapped to Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Multimedia™ (WMM®) access categories to maintain consistent QoS between wired and IEEE 802.11 networks. DSCP mapping can also act as a bridge between Wi-Fi QoS and the 5G QoS identifier (5QI) scheme defined by 3GPP by defining a mapping between 5QI to DSCP. This 5QI to DSCP and the DSCP to UP mapping can be applicable to both FMC as well as Wi-Fi and 5G convergence deployment scenarios where traffic traverses wired, Wi-Fi, and 5G networks.


[1] 3GPP, TS 23.501