XMReality Blog

Navigating Network Challenges in Remote Visual Assistance Calls

<span id="hs_cos_wrapper_name" class="hs_cos_wrapper hs_cos_wrapper_meta_field hs_cos_wrapper_type_text" style="" data-hs-cos-general-type="meta_field" data-hs-cos-type="text" >Navigating Network Challenges in Remote Visual Assistance Calls</span>

In the world of remote visual assistance, the effectiveness of the service depends on network connectivity, creating a challenge in locations with limited access. This is particularly true for utility sites, production lines inside buildings with thick metal walls, or equipment installations in areas with generally poor connectivity.

Ensuring reliable visual assistance across diverse physical environments is key to making the solution both useful and valuable. But doing so comes with a set of challenges. This article explains how your network impacts remote visual assistance tools, and what you can do about it.

Real-World Network Challenges

The quality of a remote visual assistance call is always impacted by your network connectivity. This in turn is influenced by three key characteristics: bandwidth, loss, and latency.

Bandwidth: Think of it as the width of a water pipe; higher bandwidth allows for more data to pass through and hence enables faster data transfer. This is vital for any task that involves transferring large amounts of data, including real-time video.

Loss: This measures the portion of data lost during transfer and is usually measured in percent. Addressing data loss involves optimizing network settings, controlling data flow, and improving overall network setup.

Latency: The time it takes for data to travel across a network. The higher the latency, the longer it will take to transfer data from point A to point B. Lower latency ensures quicker response times, vital for real-time communication. 

Wireless Connectivity Challenges

Unlike wired networks, wireless networks fluctuate in performance over time due to varying usage and interference, often making quoted speeds from your internet provider unattainable in practice. The wireless network’s fundamental performance is based on the distance from your device to the nearest access point or cell tower. In general, the farther away you are located, the worse your connectivity becomes.

Alongside your location, the performance also depends on the number of users connected to the same network, as well as interference from other sources. How many share the network, their activities, and electronic interference all play a role. Even radio equipment or microwave owens affect wireless connectivity performance. 

Remote visual assistance typically relies on wireless technologies such as WiFi and cellular networks. At least for the person who is on-site and gets guidance through their mobile. The person guiding might be at their office with a stable wired network connection, but the quality of the call will still be limited by the connection available to the person on-site.

Impact on Remote Visual Assistance

Understanding how bad network connectivity affects real-time audio and video communications is crucial. In real-time communications, such as video calls, guaranteed delivery of transmitted data can't be applied, as bandwidth, latency, and loss all directly impact the responsiveness of audio and video communication.

Latency Implications on Calls: Audio delays above a few hundred milliseconds create problems in interactive conversations. Mobile networks, in unfavorable conditions, can experience latencies up to 900-1100 ms, making real-time communication challenging, especially if you want to have an interactive conversation!

Bandwidth Challenges for Video Calls: Real-time video consumes significantly more data than audio alone, resulting in reduced video quality if you have low bandwidth. Modern solutions adapt video quality to the estimated available bandwidth, but limitations exist, especially in systems using media servers to route video calls. For example, the video might come through, but not with high resolution and you might experience it as blurry.

Loss Challenges: Bandwidth loss is a significant concern for video streaming. While error recovery methods like Forward Error Correction exist, they introduce latency and increase data transmission. If part of the video data is lost, you won't see parts of the video at all, which is a big hindrance if you intend to perform remote visual service.

Mitigating Network Challenges

Modern remote visual assistance solutions all apply basic technologies that facilitate real-time communication even with limited network resources. Standard real-time video and audio technologies such as VP8, H264, and Opus can all be used at and below 100kbps bandwidth, handling latency and a certain amount of loss.

But there is no way you can completely avoid the impact of connectivity challenges. That’s why selecting a robust remote visual assistance solution, one that not only uses basic technologies for real-time communication, will give the best possible user experience in all network conditions. A solution purpose-built for the use case, with innovative video, audio, and image technologies, enables remote visual assistance also in challenging network scenarios.

If you want to know how XMReality's solution is built to handle low connectivity scenarios you can check out this blog post:  XMReality Ensures Reliable Performance on Bad Connections


Want to dive into the details?  Download our whitepaper that explains connectivity challenges in various  locations in depth, their impact on remote visual assistance calls, and how to  work around them. Download now