Google’s Stadia was just announced, but nobody is talking about the Wi-Fi management required for it to work.
Google just announced Stadia, their seamless cloud gaming platform promising online gaming experience on every screen. Playstation and Xbox have already launched their own services offering streaming-based games. That means you can play without downloading the games to the actual consoles. This is achieved by running the game in the cloud. There are several services offering a similar experience to PC gamers. It will bring gaming to a completely new level of engagement, interaction across screens and services as well as new ways of using this technological advancement for gaming development.
Everyone is talking about the requirements on the provider’s side, what type of infrastructure they need to deliver, and how users can access the content. The problem nobody is talking about is the resources required on the edge to actually stream games over Wi-Fi in the home. Expectations will be low-latency and stability of the streamed content to keep a good quality of experience. Stadia boss Phil Harrison said in an interview with Kotaku that in order to run Stadia on 1080p, 60 frames per second, the player requires 25mbps and 30mbps to run it in 4K. If the bandwidth is lower, they will turn down the resolution.
But how does this look like over Wi-Fi? Imagine how today’s video conference services are working over Wi-Fi. For those of us using it on a regular basis, either for business or personal reasons, it’s known to be quite unstable, changing in quality and breaking down more than we’d like. A video call requires about 1–2Mbps. Now multiply that with 20x and you have both the expectations and failed quality delivered for cloud gaming with today’s Wi-Fi Quality of Service. It will result in bad service delivery for Google and bad and unstable user experience for all the gamers.
The next question is if this is addressable today, and if so what is required to deliver 1080p or 4K gaming quality over cloud gaming to customers on Wi-Fi. The answer is Wi-Fi slicing, and this is why ISPs need to start implementing it in order to deliver the service quality needed for products like Stadia.
Wi-Fi Slicing to ensure Quality of Experience
If Google’s Stadia is to deliver a good gaming experience on Wi-Fi, which is the premise of the service, allocating networking resources for devices using it will be absolutely necessary. Wi-Fi slicing is the method of allocating specific networking resources to services used in the home based on available resources and what each service requires for a good Quality of Experience. This varies from service to service, but for Stadia the most important thing will be throughput stability. Secondly is latency, which will need to be minimised all the way from Wi-Fi to the server and back.
As Stadia can be consumed on a range of different devices along with other services at the same time, detecting the Stadia traffic is vital for Wi-Fi slicing to work. At Domos we have developed a unique machine learning algorithm called Service Classification that can detect and classify all types of services used in the home over Wi-Fi. By using Service Classification to detect Stadia traffic, the gaming flow can be allocated throughput resources needed for 1080p or 4K resolution without interruptions in quality.