Comtelitalia

Innovation in Indoor Wi-Fi Connectivity: Test Campaign Results - High Urban Density Scenario

Introduction

In 2022, traffic on fixed networks accounted for 83% of global traffic, while about 75% of mobile network traffic originated in indoor environments. Ensuring continuous, high-capacity, reliable, and low-latency connectivity for residential and industrial users is therefore essential. This report offers a detailed analysis of the performance of the latest Wi-Fi technologies, using the 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and lower 6 GHz spectrum bands.

Test Objective

Between February and March 2024, we conducted a series of field tests replicating a high-density urban residential environment. This allowed us to analyze Wi-Fi connectivity in two key scenarios: an apartment in a densely populated urban context and an isolated house. The goal was to evaluate the ability of Wi-Fi access points to effectively handle high traffic volumes while subjected to significant interference. The access points utilized the latest technologies, taking advantage of the currently available radio frequencies. We processed data from the test sessions and compiled the results into a comprehensive report. We believe these results can serve as an interesting starting point for future evaluations of indoor wireless connectivity evolution.

Test Setup

The tests were conducted by activating numerous access points to create a realistic and challenging testing environment. The tests were performed in 42 hotel rooms, using 44 Wi-Fi access points and 86 Wi-Fi stations (laptops) distributed across three floors. This setup allowed us to analyze the resilience of Wi-Fi devices under high-density interference and traffic conditions, emulating real-world usage scenarios.

A high-capacity fixed network was implemented to ensure that the results solely reflected the performance of the Wi-Fi interface and were not restricted by any limitations of the fixed network.

We developed a centralized software platform to manage the complexity of the testing campaign. This interface allowed us to activate the traffic exchanged with all connected Wi-Fi stations, managing various traffic models. The software also ensured accurate data collection and analysis.

Measurements Performed

Wi-Fi performance, including throughput and latency were measured using tools such as WinSCP, Iperf3, VLC Media Player, and Wireshark.

Indoor and outdoor received power measurements were performed with the Ekahau Sidekick 2 tool and Tamograph software.

Test Results

The test sessions for the isolated house scenario showed that the total throughput in the “target apartment” (consisting of four rooms in the middle of the middle floor) exceeded 1 Gbit/s in all evaluated scenarios indicating excellent network stability and capacity.

 

Specifically, measurements of one Wi-Fi access point serving two user stations within a single room indicated a total throughput of around 1.5 Gbit/s, using an 80 MHz channel at 5 GHz and a 160 MHz channel at lower 6 GHz (with frequency reuses of 4 and 3 at 5 GHz and lower 6 GHz, respectively). Total throughput was observed to decrease to around 1.1 Gbit/s with one Wi-Fi access point in the room serving a total of eight user stations in four rooms (two in the same room, and two in each of three adjacent rooms). This indicates the coverage challenges associated with Wi-Fi signal propagation between rooms. Further measurements involving four Wi-Fi access points, each deployed in one of four rooms in the target apartment, and serving two stations in each room indicated a total throughput of around 6.3 Gbit/s in the target apartment. For similar scenarios as above but with only two and three access points in the target apartment, measurements indicated total throughputs of around 1.7 Gbit/s and 4.1 Gbit/s, respectively.

In the test sessions for the dense urban apartment scenario, a gradual decrease in throughput was observed with increasing interference from access points in adjacent rooms. However, total throughput always exceeded 1 Gbit/s, demonstrating the network’s ability to handle high interference conditions.

Specifically, the tests examined the same arrangement as above with four Wi-Fi access points, each deployed in one of four rooms and serving two stations in each room, but this time with the introduction of interference from 40 Wi-Fi access points and 78 user stations deployed in 38 surrounding rooms across three floors of the hotel (again with frequency reuses of 4 and 3 at 5 GHz and lower 6 GHz, respectively). The total throughput delivered to the target apartment was observed to exceed 4.5 Gbit/s, which is quite substantial given the challenging interference environment. For similar scenarios as above but with only two and three access points in the target apartment, measurements indicated total throughputs of around 1.7 Gbit/s and 2.4 Gbit/s, respectively.

The above result can be considered to be typical of the data rates which can be delivered by Wi-Fi by using the 5 GHz and lower 6 GHz bands in isolated houses/dwellings and in dense urban apartments and demonstrate the importance of Wi-Fi access point densification in enhancing capacity and coverage in such environments.

Conclusions

The test results highlighted the importance of the lower 6 GHz band for Wi-Fi performance. Thanks to the availability of additional channels, this band allows for more efficient data management and less radio signal overlap. Despite high interference, Wi-Fi technology overall showed good robustness against interfering signals, ensuring high performance even under heavy traffic conditions.

Download the full report and summary presentation for a description of the tests and detailed analysis of the collected data and their implications for future Wi-Fi network design and deployment strategies.

Watch the video to see the testing environment.

Download the presentation made by Comtel at the 19th EU Spectrum Management Conference in Brussels on June 19-20, 2024.

Contact Us

This field test represents our commitment to exploring real-world issues related to new connectivity technologies. We are pleased to share our results with you, hoping they will be useful. For further details or to discuss how we can support your needs, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Thank you for your interest!