As broadband service providers continue to bring higher speeds to market, many are now offering residential customers gigabit and even multigigabit speeds over fibre. But, as good as these services can be, 95% of households then rely on Wi-Fi in the home to connect their devices.
If that Wi-Fi isn’t good enough, the whole customer experience suffers. In order to differentiate and be more competitive, service providers need to complement the speeds that they bring to the home with an excellent in-home Wi-Fi proposition.
This is what Nokia is seeking to do with its latest solution: Nokia Corteca. Derived from the word ‘cortex’, the idea is that this is intelligence that drives broadband devices. Nokia Corteca works end-to-end, from applications embedded in the device, through the home, and into the cloud. This end-to-end approach maximizes Wi-Fi performance at every opportunity.
The cloud component of Corteca leverages multi-tenancy platforms such as Amazon’s AWS, Google Cloud platform, or Microsoft’s Azure. This makes it particularly appropriate for providers in low-ARPU emerging markets, as they can deploy Corteca to differentiate their service offering then scale as they grow.
The first component of Corteca Cloud is the Home Controller – a cloud-based platform for managed Wi-Fi and broadband device management. It continuously optimises Wi-Fi performance by extracting data from the home network which is then assessed by algorithms. Performance parameters are then adjusted automatically as needed, for example by changing Wi-Fi channel to avoid interference. From the cloud, service providers have visibility of all neighbouring networks and can then implement the right channels in different households, boosting performance.
Transmit power can also be checked from the cloud. This is interesting as, intuitively, customers set their router to 100% thinking that this will provide the best performance. But if everyone in an apartment building does this, there will be increased interference between neighbouring networks and performance will actually suffer. By performing measurements from the cloud, providers can identify dense areas and slightly reduce the transmit power to increase performance.
The second component of Corteca Cloud is the Corteca Console, the browser interface that offers real-time insights. This is a unique solution among vendors, allowing help desk agents to assess the in-home network holistically; the network topology, the client devices connected and traffic levels are displayed in real-time. It grants network administrators a network-wide view, enabling functions like KPI reporting across a service provider’s entire network. Network administrators can also tweak the parameters for Wi-Fi optimisation, which itself happens automatically every five minutes as data is collected.
Nokia has also embedded Corteca software across its broadband device portfolio (FTTH ONTs, FWA and Wi-Fi Beacons). The device software also carries out Wi-Fi optimization but locally and hence in real-time. While channel selection is best handled in the cloud, band-steering and client- steering need to happen in real-time. Corteca device software enables constant spectrum scanning, allowing for immediate problem detection and mitigation.
Another unique aspect of the Corteca solution is Corteca Applications. These offer new revenue-generating capabilities, such as cyber security, gaming optimization, video streaming, Wi-Fi sensing, and many others. Service providers can “try and buy” these applications in the Corteca Marketplace, then offer them to customers to generate new revenues. Marketplace makes it easy for providers to install new applications on customers’ devices one-by-one or in bulk and manage updates.
With Wi-Fi critical to the success of a broadband service, Corteca completely redefines how it should be delivered. The features described above enable three things:
- An exceptional customer experience. First and foremost, Corteca ensures that customers get the best possible performance and connectivity. Through the combination of device software and cloud-based software, problems are detected and mitigated before customers even notice. This results in a significant improvement in customer loyalty.
- New revenue streams. Corteca Applications directly generate revenues and can also be bundled with higher-tier broadband subscriptions to encourage uptake among customers. Once a customer has switched to a higher tier, they are unlikely to want to switch back, so this delivers a more consistent, higher ARPU for the provider.
- Reduced operational costs. Corteca results in fewer and shorter helpdesk calls, mainly through Wi-Fi optimisation but also through the increased visibility available to helpdesk agents. The Home Controller supports TR-369, allowing providers to manage both Nokia and third-party devices.
The tagline Nokia is using for Corteca – smarter broadband for a better experience – seems appropriate. The end-to-end approach certainly brings increased intelligence and insight to in-home connectivity, which should allow providers to deliver a better broadband experience to customers while also creating new revenue and cost saving opportunities.