Nokia and Vodafone test latency-busting technology

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A new internet standard called L4S (Low Latency, Low Loss, and Scalable throughput) has been successfully tested by Vodafone and Nokia Bell Labs.

In tests simulating a heavily congested fibre-to-the-home broadband connection over Wi-Fi, the companies reduced latency from 550 milliseconds to just 12 milliseconds. With an ethernet cable instead of Wi-Fi, the latency dropped even further to only 1.05 milliseconds.

Latency over 100ms can cause noticeable lags during fast-paced online gaming and video calls. The first end-to-end test using a complete fibre broadband network was conducted at Vodafone’s Newbury, UK lab.

Gavin Young, Head of Fixed Access Centre of Excellence at Vodafone, said: “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.”

Pioneered by Bell Labs, L4S is an Internet Engineering Task Force standard that tackles network queuing delays—a major source of internet latency spikes caused when data packets get stuck idling in router and modem buffers before forwarding.

While tested on passive optical networks used for residential fibre broadband, L4S can run over any access technology to benefit latency-sensitive apps like telesurgery, autonomous vehicles, and smart factories.

Azimeh Sefidcon, Head of Network Systems and Security Research at Nokia Bell Labs, commented: “These highly encouraging results show that L4S will unshackle any real-time application that would normally be constrained by high latency.

“Video conferencing, cloud gaming, augmented reality, and even the remote operations of drones would run flawlessly across the internet, without experiencing any significant queuing delays.”

The technology exemplifies Bell Labs’ new UNEXT initiative to transform networks into self-optimising systems without interoperability barriers between network elements and applications.

(Photo by Mike van den Bos)

See also: FCC denies spectrum request for Starlink’s mobile service

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