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No lag gaming - Vodafone and Nokia test new technology to eliminate gaming and video lag

2 Apr 2024Technology news
3 minute read

A new Internet technology has been successfully tested by Vodafone and Nokia which could greatly improve the home broadband experience for customers, particularly when gaming or making video calls.

Using a replica fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) link serving a standard laptop over a busy Wi-Fi broadband connection (simulating the worst-case peak load), the two companies were able to reduce the response times, known as latency, when accessing an Internet site from 550 milliseconds (0.55 seconds) to just 12 milliseconds (0.012 seconds) whilst maintaining fast speeds. The latency reduced to only 1.05 milliseconds (0.00105 seconds) when an ethernet cable was used in place of Wi-Fi.

Latency of 100 milliseconds or above, reportedly equal to a blink of an eye, can cause a noticeable lag when gaming or during a video call. In the first test of its kind using all elements of a fibre broadband network Vodafone and Nokia’s research arm Nokia Bell Labs were able to demonstrate the benefits of a new Internet standard called L4S to simultaneously maintain a high throughput of data (customer traffic) and low latency, at Vodafone’s laboratory in Newbury, UK.

Pioneered by Nokia Bell Labs, L4S stands for ‘Low Latency, Low Loss, and Scalable’ throughput. Backed by the leading Internet standards body, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), this technology tackles queuing delays, which are a significant source of peak latency on the Internet and the scourge of most serious gamers. Latency occurs when packets of data wait idly in buffers across the network, for instance in routers and modems, before being forwarded to their destination.

Gavin Young, Head of Fixed Access Centre of Excellence at Vodafone said: “As a leading broadband provider, Vodafone aims to give customers a faster, more responsive, and reliable service unhindered by lag even during peak hours. L4S is an exciting technology with huge potential to achieve this goal, as well as deliver a more interactive and tactile internet experience for our customers.”

While the Vodafone and Nokia Bell Labs tests were conducted using Passive Optical Network (PON), the underlying technology for home broadband fibre services, L4S also can be used over any access connection, mobile or fixed. It could be applied to any latency-sensitive application such as remote surgery, connected autonomous vehicles and smart factories underpinning the Industrial Internet.

Azimeh Sefidcon, Head of Network Systems and Security Research at Nokia Bell Labs, said: “These highly encouraging results show that L4S will unshackle any real-time application that would normally be constrained by high latency. Videoconferencing, cloud-gaming, augmented reality and even the remote operations of drones would run flawlessly across the internet, without experiencing any significant queuing delays.”

Note to Editors

Nokia’s research arm Nokia Bell Labs and Vodafone’s Fixed Access Centre of Excellence performed the world’s first demonstration of L4S running over a PON built with Nokia technology. It consisted of a broadband network gateway (BNG), a PON optical line terminal (OLT), multiple PON optical network terminals (ONTs) and Wi-Fi access points. The tests showed extremely low and consistent end-to-end latencies when travelling across every element of the network.

L4S networking technology consistently achieves near-zero packet queuing delay, no matter how much traffic load the network experiences. By eliminating queuing delays, L4S removes big variations in latency without compromising network speeds. In November 2023, Nokia Bell Labs and Hololight, a leading innovator in enterprise XR solutions, created a proof of concept demonstrating how L4S could support multiple simultaneous XR users over the same wireless connection without sacrificing performance.

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