QoS at last? Wi-Fi Alliance claims it’s hatched a solution for Wi-Fi administrators

Ian Scales
By Ian Scales

Feb 24, 2021

via Flickr © Yahoo (CC BY 2.0)

via Flickr © Yahoo (CC BY 2.0)

  • Lack of quality of service levers has to now doomed Wi-Fi to a “cheap and cheerful” network role
  • But the Wi-Fi Alliance says it has developed the technology to change all that
  • It’s introducing standardized mechanisms to allow client applications to request proper QoS treatment

Wi-Fi is entering 2021 on a bit of a roll. Wi-Fi 6 is beginning to make itself felt globally as it turns up on top-end devices, smartphones and hubs as Wi-Fi 6 chip prices crash down to manageable levels. Meanwhile “Whole-home” managed Wi-Fi, after years of ‘coming soon’ chatter, is actually turning up. And then of course there’s the pandemic, when half the world started working from home and discovered that Wi-Fi, if only it let the whole family online at the same time, was something that just couldn’t be done without. If that doesn’t set the scene for a healthy Wi-Fi device and service sales period then nothing will, except perhaps, Wi-Fi with Quality of Service... which is also on the way according to the Wi-Fi Alliance which has been cooking up some standards

QoS has always been the achilles heel of any Wi-Fi push. Without some way of prioritising the data traffic which ‘must get through’ with minimal latency and jitter and at the correct rate, over the traffic which is more forgiving, Wi-Fi, we were told, would never make it as a serious enterprise option.

Anxious to close the performance gap and have Wi-Fi play a complementary role in corporate 5G and a dominant role in advanced gaming and virtual reality (VR,) the Wi-Fi Alliance this week introduced Wi-Fi Certified QoS Management , a new certification programme to improve the Wi-Fi experience with real-time applications. 

Building on earlier standards

Wi-Fi QoS Management builds on the widely adopted Wi-Fi Certified WMM (Wi-Fi MultiMedia) but  introduces two new technologies to enable administrators to prioritise traffic flows by establishing a standards-based approach to QoS mirroring, and by aligning with IETF recommendations for QoS mapping between Internet Protocol (IP) and IEEE 802.11. 

The Alliance claims residential, enterprise, and public networks all benefit from Wi-Fi QoS Management, particularly when using applications requiring low latency and low jitter, including videoconferencing, interactive gaming, AR/VR, industrial IoT, and healthcare monitoring.

Wi-Fi QoS Management provides standardized mechanisms that allow client applications to request QoS treatment, and for network managers to implement QoS policies. These mechanisms allow user devices and access points to select differentiated prioritization depending on the application resulting in better experiences with real-time and immersive applications 

Wi-Fi QoS Management features two key technologies:

  • Mirrored Stream Classification Service (MSCS): enables a client device to request the access point to apply specific QoS treatment of downlink IP data flows using QoS mirroring

  • Differentiated Service Code Point (DSCP) mapping: aligns QoS treatment across Wi-Fi and wired networks and also enables network managers to configure specific QoS policies

MSCS is based on the concept of “mirrored” QoS – provides a simple means for applications on user devices to request traffic be assigned the desired priority level. This bidirectional QoS treatment ensures consistent, reduced latency for the device application and delivers positive Wi-Fi experiences even when the Wi-Fi channel is congested. 

DSCP mapping allows the network manager to map traffic from both access points and client devices to a particular QoS priority across the network. In enterprise networks, a network manager can configure videoconferencing traffic as high priority and configure a mapping table that can be updated to ensure the requirements of mission-critical services are met.


The QoS announcement has elicited enthusiastic support across the industry: According to Tuncay Cil, Chief Strategy Officer, ASSIA, "Wi-Fi QoS Management is the first step to transform Wi-Fi connectivity from "best effort" to consistent availability for specific data traffic streams, especially for teleworking and distributed enterprise applications. Wi-Fi QoS Management capability is a key building block for ASSIA products."  

“End-to-end QoS support is extremely important for our devices to deliver better Wi-Fi experiences for a new breed of applications such as cloud, gaming, AR/VR, and video conferencing that demand low latency and higher traffic priority treatment, according to Intel’s  Eric McLaughlin, VP Client Computing Group, GM Wireless Solutions Group. He says Intel is happy to be a leader of the QoS work at Wi-Fi Alliance and “having our product be among the first ones to be certified for Wi-Fi Certified QoS Management.”  

More information is to be had at https://www.wi-fi.org/discover-wi-fi/wi-fi-qos-management

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