John M. Cioffi

Posted by John M. Cioffi

CEO and Chairman of the Board, ASSIA

John M. Cioffi has published 5 blog posts.

Chairman’s Vision: Transcending to the New Normal

As with many companies, ASSIA adjusts and progresses to the new normal that the global pandemic suddenly created earlier this year. ASSIA’s employees have transitioned to work-from-home, but ASSIA’s productivity has remained high; frankly, much higher than I expected. Many executives at other companies confirm this similar experience and surprise. When vaccines and/or cures are found, and it becomes feasible for all or any to return to the office, ASSIA and many other companies believe that employees will then still spend at least half their time working remotely. We transcend together to our collective new normal.

In this new normal, broadband connectivity becomes foundational to productivity. An enterprise’s survivability relies on uninterrupted interparty communication, wherever their locations. A poor connection is more than an annoyance. When multiplied across a teleconference, the productivity loss increases with the number of collaborating participants. When multiplied across a company, it is a significant loss of workhours. As such, it becomes crucial to ensure strong and stable connectivity to and from our workforce’s homes.

There is a relationship between connectivity and productivity that can be well learned with artificial intelligence. I call the learned productivity’s connectivity-related component “workput”; i.e., work throughput. By collecting Quality of Service and Quality of Experience data, ASSIA can learn and recognize a poor connection’s productivity-influencing indicators with workput. Predictions and consequent proactive adjustments and/or reactive interventions can then optimize an employee or their companies’ workput through correspondingly workput-optimized connectivity. In short, productivity consequently improves.

ASSIA’s new Equipe solution uses machine learning to measure workput and improve connectivity. Equipe software improves the work from home employee’s productivity and Equipe’s tool ecosystem helps IT administrators troubleshoot connections. Equipe also enables carriers to respond more rapidly and more effectively. As ASSIA Equipe servers learn a company’s workput-connectivity needs more accurately with time, Equipe continues to improve workput.

Work-from-home demonstrates to many globally the need for a reliable and fast internet connection. ASSIA’s Equipe will combine learned and updated knowledge to prioritize work-related flows and optimize effective and efficient fail-over to reduce current productivity loss. As such, Equipe will consequently enhance future reliable speeds for all home applications.

Today and tomorrow, ASSIA supports global partners who will help us all transcend our households to more business-enhancing network experiences. ASSIA’s solutions and expertise will continue to empower our partners and customers to the new broadband normal. All our work from home employees will then be able to improve their workput with ASSIA’s Equipe solution.

John Cioffi
Chairman & CEO, ASSIA, Inc.

ASSIA’s IP, expertise, and products are ensuring business-grade reliability over residential internet connections to support life-critical applications

CEO John Cioffi shares ASSIA’s top priorities during COVID-19 epidemic

During this demanding time, ASSIA’s top priorities are to ensure the safety and continued productivity of our employees and to support the continuity of operations at ASSIA’s many large service provider customers globally.

In a matter of two weeks, a massive number of people have continued their employment from home, and their home networks have become the lifeline of connectivity to their colleagues, customers, co-workers, and investors.

A new generation of applications such as teleconferencing, tele-medicine, and tele-education have quickly become mission-critical tools for continuity of business and life, all operating over residential internet connections. These applications bring challenges to residential internet connections. Issues related to speed, throughput, stability, coverage, security, and reliability of the home network have become visible during video-conference calls, online classes, and tele-medicine portals.

ASSIA has worked with our large number of ecosystem partners, customers, and application providers to help quickly deliver the expertise and solutions necessary to bridge the gap in reliable connection management across access and home networks.

Today, ASSIA’s technologies are being used to ensure reliability of internet and home network connectivity on over 120M household connections and devices worldwide.  ASSIA’s entire workforce has rallied to ensure the reliable operation of residential connectivity for as many as we can.

Wi-Fi’s Extraordinary Future: The Impact on Wireless Connectivity

Wi-Fi’s extraordinary progress needs smart policy to thrive. Wi-Fi physical-layer technology is improving remarkably. Peak speeds are a gigabit or more. Several chipmakers (Qualcomm, Broadcom, Quantenna, Mediatek, Marvell, and others) advertise 1.3 gigabit (peak-speed) .ac chips, while reports of tests cite raw peak speeds as high as 10 Gbps. While these heroic physical-layer speed demonstrations attract attention, the reality of the situation suggests smart policy will be necessary for even small fractions of these peak speeds to be enjoyed in use by consumers of Internet data.

These high-peak Wi-Fi speeds often use much of the existing unlicensed Wi-Fi 5 GHz spectrum to achieve the high advertised speeds (along with several spatial paths of that spectrum). However Wi-Fi uses a “collision protocol.” Collisions are attempts by more than one user/device/thing to use Wi-Fi on any of the access points at the same time. In this case, both “things” must wait a random period of time before attempting to transmit the same data again, leading to significant speed loss and delay in delivery of data. The more devices using the spectrum, the more rapidly the performance decays. It is not unusual for the latest Wi-Fi systems advertised at Gbps speeds to actually provide only a few Mbps to devices in real use.

Wi-Fi speeds can be expected to drop very significantly in neighborhoods and buildings where several Wi-Fi access points are in use with typical numbers of Wi-Fi-capable devices, namely the Internet of Things today, and even more so into the future. Recent field tests of true throughputs in such crowded systems (using state of the art Wi-Fi access points and chips) often see speeds of just a few tens of Mbps, or even less. Super crowded systems, such as the 50M “digital divided” users in the USA who go to public libraries for free Internet connection, will see speeds of less than 1 Mbps at times because of heavy use during busy hours (4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at libraries). Schools also can experience very low speeds from over-use, an issue to be addressed hopefully by recent E-rate allocations for public schools in the USA.

Some solutions for “enterprise environments” (big company sites, hospitals, bank and insurance company headquarters, and so on) require all access points to be from the same manufacturer (see Cisco Meraki, Ruckus Wireless, and/or Ericsson/Belair) and expensively require the use of both manual tuning and automatic tuning specific to that manufacturer. This can lead to significant improvement if no other manufacturers’ systems are within “ear-shot.” However, Wi-Fi by its very nature is unregulated, and recent FCC decisions (see the Marriott case for instance) suggest that single-enterprise supply of Wi-Fi access points violates the law. Residential use in a crowded apartment complex or even urban/suburban neighborhoods lead to the overlap of dozens of access points’ transmissions, often with many different manufacturers’ products in use. Thus, the need for smart policy or use magnifies with increased Wi-Fi use.

Better physical-layer performance and these problems of contention/collision inspire new applications. ASSIA’s CloudCheck first measures and identifies Wi-Fi issues specific to the device, time, and location, while also evaluating whether the remainder of the Internet connection has sufficient speed to sustain the Wi-Fi speed.

Such tools empower consumers themselves to help understand and improve their own connectivity, as well as help regulators and ISPs know the true source of an Internet bottleneck. Statistics generated can help policy makers decide on spectra allocations. When Wi-Fi is not the issue and fixed-line access (for instance DSL) is the bottleneck, Cloudcheck further uses the cloud, when systems are compatible, to bond (combine connections into appearance of a single, faster connection) fixed-line-WiFi connections to connection speeds of hundreds of megabits and more, while avoiding the high cost of fiber to the home (or to the “wristwatch”).

Using fixed line + Wi-Fi means far more homes can receive ultra broadband than would be possible given fiber’s high costs. For instance, an apartment complex of 20 units all with 100 Mbps fiber/VDSL service has a 2 Gbps data rate that can be shared if Wi-Fi systems have some level of smart policy underlying their usage. Essentially, such policy would reverse the contention issues to an efficiency advantage.

Simultaneously, with smart policy today’s broadband home can be rapidly transformed. With 4×4 MIMO and beamforming, home gateways should be able to stream HD and UHD TV throughout most homes with minimal collision/contention issues. However, letting the boxes run full speed selfishly wastes spectra and creates spatial wars among multiple access points. Access point manufacturers (boxes and chips) want to quote the highest speed to potential buyers, but they really have no control over the contention issues, so simply “blast away,” wasting spectra and power, and reducing real speeds to all. Furthermore, it helps no one for a Wi-Fi system to run at 1 Gbps when the fixed-line Internet connection supporting it runs at 10 Mbps, or if the ISP network behind it supports only a few Mbps speed to the application being served to the consumer using the Wi-Fi device.

Gateways can also simultaneously connect literally dozens of devices, which is essential as we connect more things. Current IoT estimates show more than 10 connected devices per home in the developed world, and a rapid increase in smart-device use in the developing world. All phones, as well as most audio players and TVs, now have Wi-Fi. Consumers can hear any music anywhere in the home without wires. This situation only compounds and makes more frequent the incidence of collisions and contention within the Wi-Fi spectra.

The rich ecosystem and near ubiquity of Wi-Fi make it a primary tool for the exciting Internet of Things. Devices like Google’s Nest home thermostats, connected by Wi-Fi, save money. Wi-Fi connected medical equipment and smoke alarms can save lives. Industry economists calculate Wi-Fi’s benefits as high as $200,000,000,000 each year. Recent bidding in the USA for relatively small amounts of licensed spectra saw amounts from a small number of bidders approach nearly $50B.

With Wi-Fi’s great success to date come some great challenges for the future, perhaps with the greatest opportunity to much more cost effectively and spectrally efficiently address the exploding needs with unlicensed spectra.


A Gigabit/s to a Billion

In a recent webinar organized by the Marconi Society, I was asked if it is possible to deliver broadband access speeds of a Gigabit per second to a Billion people before the end of this decade. My answer was that this is entirely possible with only a modest level of investment, and with only incremental upgrades of the existing infrastructure.

Beginning with the current state of broadband access, the spread of 100 Megabit/s services is already evident. Within 3 years, 24 million Germans shall have highly reliable 100 Megabit/s speeds using vectored VDSL (invented by ASSIA engineers). Soon, they will be joined by millions more in Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, and Australia, as well as by AT&T customers in the USA. Continue reading

Internet Hall of Fame Statement: Gigabits to Billions of Users

My induction into the Internet Hall of Fame is truly an honor, as is the opportunity I have had to help the Internet evolve and expand its reach around the world. In human history, the growth of the Internet is less than the blink of an eye, yet already we’re realizing amazing potential and endless possibilities achievable through high-performance, cost-effective access to the knowledge and ideas that the Internet provides.

Continue reading