Working in this industry, you’ve probably heard the term “Quality of Service (QoS)” but maybe you don’t know what it means, or you don’t know how to explain it to your customers. It basically refers to the overall quality or the performance of a service such as telephony, computer networking, or cloud computing. The quality of these services is measured based on various factors including packet loss, throughput, delay, etc. The more delays seen when using a network, the lesser the quality of the user experience. The goal of most networks whether in an office, a university, or even a retail business is to ensure a positive, efficient experience by all users. QoS Standards help us to achieve that.
In direct relation to networking, QoS standards are a set of guidelines that dictate how Internet traffic is routed within the network. The standards most often referred to in 2018 include 802.11e/WMM, VLAN, and TOS. The VLAN and TOS protocols have more to do with how the information is tagged to determine priority, but for the purpose of today’s blog we will discuss WiFi Multimedia (WMM) in depth.
WMM is a standard that prioritizes audio, video, and voice over other items that aren’t time critical. For example, a phone call is considered more important than downloading a file from FTP. If there is a 30 second delay in your file download, no harm is done— but a 30 second delay during a phone conversation can lead to miscommunication or frustration. To alleviate these situations, WMM breaks Internet traffic into four categories, listed below in order of priority.
- Voice- applications such as VoIP
- Video- any video applications
- Best Effort- applications where a slight delay isn’t a problem, most standard IP applications fall into this category.
- Background- low priority applications, like FTP would fall under background.
When following WMM, throughput is distributed according to the above priorities to make for a seamless experience. Much like patients in an emergency room get treated according to the severity of their symptoms, Internet traffic acts the same way. In the ER, priority is given to someone bleeding over someone with the common cold, because delaying the person with the simply cold won’t have a negative impact. In an office scenario, more throughput is distributed to a phone call or a video conference, because in these cases a delay has a negative impact, whereas a slight delay in a background application does not.
The goal is to provide a seamless, effortless connection for everyone on your network, regardless of it being an office, retail location, or library. When setting up a network or purchasing access points and routers, ensure that the products you buy support advanced roaming and QoS standards so that this positive experience can be enjoyed by your customers.