ASSIA

Posted by ASSIA

Marketing Team


ASSIA has published 15 blog posts.

ASSIA Participation in Standards Organizations

ASSIA wants its customers to be confident that the investment they make today to improve their internet QoS and home Wi-Fi QoE will not be obsolete in a few years. That is why ASSIA actively participates in standards organizations and contributes to the definition of standards.

The ecosystem for internet access technology is very dynamic. New advancements are introduced at an aggressive pace. As a result, service providers must constantly upgrade equipment and services to stay competitive, which can be very costly. When it comes to optimizing internet and Wi-Fi performance for QoS and QoE, a proprietary solution that works great today, may not do the job in a few years as technology and home Wi-Fi environments change.

The Standards Organizations Landscape

Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your perspective, there are many organizations that define standards that impact our service provider customers. There are Wi-Fi, broadband, DSL, virtualization, and GPON standards groups—to name a few—that contribute to our industry. So, we often are asked in which standards bodies ASSIA participates.

So we worked with our Director of Standards, Ken Kerpez, to create the document “ASSIA Participation in Standards Organizations” that summarizes:

  • The standards organizations we contribute to or follow
  • Their purpose
  • The standards they are defining that are important to our service provider, network provider, phone carrier, and cable company customers

What We Contribute

ASSIA’s participation with standards organizations goes far beyond just attending the meetings. ASSIA actively contributes to these standards by:

  • Researching and innovating technologies
  • Authoring, and co-authoring, standards contributions – over 60 in the past year
  • Helping to define, shape, and evolve the standards for the better

Goals for Our Standards Work

As we work with these standards organizations, our goal is to assure these technology standards constantly innovate and improve so that operators are instrumented with:

  • Operator access to open management interfaces for enhanced performance management, monitoring, optimization, and diagnostics
  • Constantly improving high-performance technologies
  • Open interfaces so that these technologies can be managed by intuitive products such as Apps and cloud services built by operators and vendors
  • Standard open source technologies shared across the industry

Benefits to Our Customers

Our work with standards groups results in the following benefits for our customers:

  • Low operational and capital costs
  • Rapid times to market
  • Smooth deployments and upgrades
  • Reusable components
  • Enhanced services
  • Reliable diagnostics and optimization

Our Standards Organizations Focus

Our areas of focus include standard technologies currently in use such as Wi-Fi, cloud-management, DSL, PON (fiber), and G.fast, and future technologies such as G.mgfast.

Download the document “ASSIA Participation in Standards Organizations” to see what we are doing with the:

And stay tuned for our “Guide to Wi-Fi Standards and Open Source” whitepaper which will be published here later this month.


ASSIA Is Your EasyMesh Partner

EasyMesh is receiving a lot of buzz for good reason. With the shift to online services for voice, video, transactions, and managing the home, almost every household is seeking to get the best out of their home Wi-Fi network. In recent years, many have adopted mesh network devices to fill the holes in Wi-Fi coverage throughout their homes. In the past three years, PC Magazine tested and ranked 10 mesh devices from the well-known retail players such as Linksys, Netgear, Google, TP-Link, and Samsung. This creates a new challenge for internet service providers whose subscribers are defining their quality of experience based on their Wi-Fi performance. These various mesh devices are not interoperable, so to date, service providers cannot manage them or have had to lock themselves into a single mesh solution, which is far from ideal from a customer acquisition and satisfaction standpoint. ASSIA plans to give you and your subscribers more flexibility and choice as the EasyMesh standard evolves through releases, and gains acceptance and wide adoption.

From Extenders to Mesh

For many years, the option was to add extenders throughout the home. These were inexpensive devices scattered throughout the house that repeat or “boost” the Wi-Fi signal from the gateway. With a mesh network, the access points connect directly, dynamically, using a backhaul network to as many other access points as possible and efficiently route data from and to client devices. Well-designed mesh networks dynamically self-organize and self-configure which helps with workload distribution, fault tolerance, and maintenance. Yet if mesh nodes are in the wrong location, or are not properly configured, these advantages will not materialize, and the service provider will likely get the service call.

EasyMesh

Enter EasyMesh, a standard from the Wi-Fi Alliance©, which will allows Wi-Fi CERTIFIED EasyMesh™ devices to interoperate and be centrally controlled. EasyMesh R1 is now available with some devices certified, however a much richer set of features will be available from EasyMesh R2. While a draft of the new specification may be released this summer, it will not be completed until the end of 2019. So, should service providers wait or get started supporting mesh networks now? We at ASSIA believe you should start now, and we have a path for you to do it.

EasyMesh R1

The Wi-Fi Alliance first released its EasyMesh R1 specification for multi-access point (MAP) networks in June 2018. The purpose of this specification is to enable interoperability across a MAP controller and Wi-Fi access points (APs) from different vendors in a Wi-Fi network deployment comprising multiple APs. This specification defines the control protocol between Wi-Fi® APs using IEEE 1905.1 Ethernet messaging across the premises LAN, as well as the data objects necessary to enable on-boarding, provisioning, control, and management of multiple APs. The specification also defines the mechanism to specify traffic routes between Wi-Fi access points within the multi-AP network. There are both a specification, and a test plan with compliance testing.

Other features specified in EasyMesh R1 are;

Diagnostics

  • Access point and station 802.11 capabilities (n, ac, ax) and supported rates, channels, power, bandwidths, number of spatial streams, short GI support and bands among other things
  • Backhaul (AP to controller) 1905 topology, available MAC-layer throughput (up/down), percent link availability, and Received Channel Power Indicator (RCPI)
  • Fronthaul (STA to AP) available MAC-layer throughput (up/down) and RCPI
  • Unassociated STA MAC ID and Received Power (RCPI)
  • Beacon reports from associated stations

Steering

  • Station associations (client steering); control which AP a STA associates with
  • Backhaul steering; backhaul STA to fronthaul AP
  • Controller or AP can initiate steering
  • Steering policy determines if RCPI based steering, or vendor-proprietary steering, is used. RCPI thresholds also set by steering policy
  • Can do 802.11v steering if supported, otherwise by AP performing disassociation

Channel assignment and transmit power assignments

  • Based on channel preference reports which list preferred channels, sent from APs to controller

Set reporting policies for steering and metrics reporting

EasyMesh R2

EasyMesh R2 will contain four key categories of features; traffic control, security, spectrum optimization and additional diagnostics.

Traffic control

  • Classify traffic to prioritize for QoS; map QoS-classes in, out, and between AP interfaces
  • Separate traffic from different networks
  • Enhanced client steering, with Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Agile MultibandTM fast BSS transition

Security

  • Securely onboard and authenticate Multi-AP devices
  • IEEE 1905 message encryption

Spectrum optimization

  • Increased DFS channel usage with coordinated Channel Availability Check (CAC)

Diagnostics

  • More support for WFA Data Elements
  • Increased channel scans
  • Client steering reports
  • Additional backhaul diagnostics

EasyMesh Controller functionality is currently limited to running on devices in the LAN. ASSIA is extending this to encompass cloud-based remote management.

ASSIA CloudCheck and EasyMesh

The CloudCheck architecture and roadmap are well aligned with the EasyMesh specification. CloudCheck currently has many proprietary algorithms and features for supporting multi-AP networks. So ASSIA can help you manage mesh access points today, using our own techniques. As the EasyMesh R2 specification is finalized, we will adopt the interfaces which will enable our current and new CloudCheck algorithms to work with other vendor’s multi-AP hardware. So our recommendation is that you get started with CloudCheck today and provide support for mesh networks. Then you will be well prepared to offer your subscribers support for a variety of mesh access points from different vendors in the future. We believe this will give you a competitive edge against the providers that are locking themselves into a single vendor’s mesh network hardware.

 


Terabit DSLs and Wireless-Dimensionality in the Terahertz Band

Testing of waveguide mode of copper infrastructure at Brown University.

John Cioffi, ASSIA CEO, was the opening keynote speaker at PMF2019 “The First International Workshop on Polymer Microwave Fiber (PMF) Technology” hosted by KU Leuven in BELGIUM on March 4th and 5th. The workshop brought together important academia and industry players in the fields of PMF and waveguides. Polymer Microwave Fiber is a communication concept that combines mm-wave chips, metal couplers, and cheap plastic fibers.

The Promise of Waveguide Mode

In his keynote, “Terabit DSLs and Wireless-Dimensionality in the Terahertz Band”, Cioffi, gave an update on the progress of the Terabit DSL research, some measurements for which are being conducted at Brown University under the direction of Professor Daniel Mittleman under sponsorship from the US National Science Foundation and ASSIA.

Cioffi originally introduced Terabit DSL at the Paris G.fast Summit conference in May 2017. In that initial presentation, Cioffi asserted that fiber-like speeds of 10 Gbps to 1000 Gbps (e.g., 1 Tbps) could be possible by using the previously unexploited waveguide modes of current copper infrastructure cables that contain twisted-pair phone lines. Waveguide-mode use is similar to the use of millimeter-wave transmissions in advanced wireless and 5G. While current 5G wireless often runs at 28 GHz and 39 GHz, commercial microwave gear can run at 70 GHz and 90 GHz. Waveguides can open the terahertz gap and enable use of frequencies above 100 GHz for significantly faster speeds. Cioffi notes that the wavelengths at these frequencies can “fit” between the wires and that multiple-antenna-like (“MIMO”) processing can be used to transmit and receive well the signals at these frequencies.

Waveguide mode for TDSL

Waveguides for TDSL

Terabit DSL Research Update

In the detailed technical talk in Belgium, Cioffi discussed how this approach combines two known methods into a Digital Subscriber Waveguide that can deliver 1 terabyte per second:

  • Plasmon polariton and other waveguide modes used for sub millimeter wave transmission
  • Vectoring or massive MIMO used by G.fast vectoring, Wi-Fi, and LTE

Dr. Cioffi covered these additional topics in discussing the testing environment, research results, and proposals for real-world deployments.

  • Development of a MU-MIMO model of the waveguide channel based on experimental results
  • Example architecture of transmitters and receivers
  • Ethernet results, exploring the possibility of terabit “TBASE-T” Ethernet
  • Signal Processing – conversion devices and processing capabilities

Early Successes

So far, the research results indicate successful transmission modes, even around bending pairs of wireless in the 200 GHz range. While continued experiments are needed, these particular results continue to motivate further work because of the potential for home customer DSL speeds of:

  • 10 Gbps at 500-meter lengths
  • 100 Gbps at 300-meter lengths
  • 1 Tbps at 100-meter lengths

Evolutionary Adoption

Cioffi acknowledges that not everyone will need a terabit per second of DSL service anytime soon. He suggested that the industry begin by providing a slower speed at longer lengths, such as 10 Gbps up to 500 meters. Then, the infrastructure can be upgraded for 5G wireless in the future when faster speeds can be accomplished at longer lengths, such as 1 terabit per second at 100 meters for 5G wireless small cells “back/front” haul.

More generally, the industry can start taking advantage of using the waveguide modes of copper infrastructure before full deployment to homes might be seriously contemplated. For instance, data centers particularly could more easily and more immediately benefit from the flexibility the approach offers. Fiber cables can be replaced with copper cables up to 100 meters and data centers will no longer have to endure the costs of guessing how much fiber and copper is needed. Further, 5G backhaul is very costly if fiber must be deployed to many new smaller cell sites, which could be far less expensively deployed instead on existing copper to such an enlarged set of 5G cell sites.

Significant Potential Cost Benefits of TDSL

If these performance speeds are eventually verified and realized in production, TDSL could fundamentally change the entire telecommunications industry. Currently there are enormous costs associated to increase access speeds. For example, upgrading each home with fiber to the home can cost $3000 to $4000 per home. Cioffi cited that at the recent Mobile World Congress, the Deutsche Telekom CTO and CEO estimated the European 5G fiber infrastructure cost to be between 300 and 500 billion euros.

In contrast, by using the existing copper infrastructure’s unexploited waveguide modes to provide home internet and to backhaul 5G cell sites, could reduce costs of building the high-speed access networks of the future by a factor of five to ten. In fact, providing 10 Gbps at 500m could change capex planning for internet service providers and telecommunications operators significantly if a customer needs it and is willing to change providers or services for it.

Cioffi concluded his keynote by encouraging the industry to work together with pre-competitive cooperation for better measures and consequent calculations and projections. Then in the short-term, focus on 10Gbps at 100 meters, 5G small cells back and front haul, and data centers.

Read more about TDSL.


Mobile World Congress 19: Mobile and Wi-Fi Convergence

The overarching theme of MWC19 Barcelona was “Intelligent Connectivity”, the powerful combination of flexible, high-speed 5G networks, IoT, AI, and big data, all of which cite the beginning of mobile and Wi-Fi convergence. Since “Intelligent Connectivity” is dependent on reliably fast Wi-Fi, carriers are taking increasing responsibility for providing and managing home Wi-Fi to assure a high Quality of Experience for their customers. So, we’d like to share three Wi-Fi-related advances that caught our eye at the show.

Telefónica Home Wi-Fi Management Open Access Project

Telefónica presented the first prototype of an open and convergent access network that integrates fixed and mobile and enables edge computing which Telefónica is already testing with several customers and technological partners in Spain, and soon in Brazil. We are happy to say that ASSIA provides the optimization and predictive analytics technology for the Telefónica Open Access Project.

The Open Access Project separates network equipment hardware and software, using general purpose servers and open software interfaces, to provide flexibility and efficient 5G deployments. The same equipment will support distributed traditional deployments and centralized cloud deployments. Innovations can be deployed by just updating the software.

Telefónica has built its own home Wi-Fi router software for use with their customer premises equipment with service logic integrated in the cloud. The ASSIA technology helps Telefónica provide their customers with superior Wi-Fi performance in the home and proactive care capabilities from Telefónica customer service worldwide. The ASSIA solution has been incorporated in Wi-Fi 5 routers as well as the future Wi-Fi 6 home gateway announced by Telefónica at MWC. To learn more about the Telefónica innovation, read the Telefónica press release.

First 6 GHz Wi-Fi Demo by Intel

There has been a lot of buzz about 6 GHz Wi-Fi, with the FCC leading other regulators in opening up new unlicensed bands for 5G Wi-Fi use and 3GPP incorporating 6GHz operation under its 3GPP standards. The work of the 3GPP standards body will allow the deployment and adoption of 5G services and its co-existence with Wi-Fi. ASSIA looks forward to being a significant contributor to Wi-Fi and 5G deployments with our IP and technology for optimizing the associated spectrum.

Google Station and Facebook Wi-Fi Expansion

Google and Facebook are far from traditional players in the Wi-Fi market, but both announced significant progress in expanding their Wi-Fi offerings. The common goal of these initiatives is to provide high-quality Wi-Fi to developing countries. Google now has deployments in south-east Asia, Nigeria and Mexico. With Facebook Wi-Fi, users will be able to access Wi-Fi simply by entering their Facebook app. Cisco announced their support for Google Station, and Nokia announced their support for Facebook Wi-Fi.

Mobile and Wi-Fi Convergence is Upon Us

So, it looks like the convergence of Wi-Fi and mobile is upon us. The advantage to the consumer will be an improvement of Quality of Experience with better performance, and in the case of 5G, the ease-of-use that comes with it being all one network. While service providers will see improved customer satisfaction and reduced costs, your challenge will be to make sure the network has the contextual intelligence to be able to balance the two objectives all at once.

Fortunately, ASSIA is here to help with our innovative technology for service providers to make the most of your existing copper and fiber access networks and be prepared for the future of mobile and Wi-Fi convergence. Read more about ASSIA’s broadband, fiber, and Wi-Fi management and optimization solutions.


AI and the Ubiquitous 1 Gbps Access Network

ASSIA CEO, John Cioffi, recently spoke at Tor Vergata University in Rome, Italy to a distinguished audience. He spoke about how data sciences, including both analytics and optimization, can contribute to our industry’s access networks evolution to ubiquitous 1 Gbps. Since a range of fixed and wireless access-connectivity options exist—and will continue to exist—throughout the world, it is important for the industry to find ways to make informed, economical decisions to evolve our access networks. Particularly, since there is no clear efficiency choice between fixed and wireless access-connectivity methods.

The key to accomplishing this informed evolution, is to make use of the network data that is available. By applying continuous artificial intelligent to this network data, planning exercises can make the informed, economical choices needed for effective access network evolution. During his presentation, John reviewed some of these methods and suggested possible gains and strategies that could be pursued to accelerate efficient progress towards the ubiquitous 1 Gbps goal.

Audience Reaction Highlights

Here we would like to highlight four topics that significantly resonated with the audience in Rome or sparked lively discussion around the evolution to a ubiquitous 1 Gbps access network.

Increasing speeds without the expense of fiber

For the foreseeable future, it is just not financially viable or practical to provide fiber to each home to achieve ubiquitous 1 Gbps. As a result, the possibility of using network data and AI to increase speeds to consumers everywhere without the expense of fiber garnered a very positive reaction.

Effective load balancing of management data

Some methods of load balancing management data bandwidth, including those employed by open source systems, have a tendency to overwhelm the management channel bandwidth. The fact that ASSIA’s methods do not overwhelm the management network, was seen as a valuable component to achieving a ubiquitous 1 Gbps access network.

State of Italian multi-operator vectoring

While not directly in John’s prepared discussion topics, the audience was very interested to hear John’s take on why the Italian multi-operator vectoring (MOV) approach has not proceeded as once hoped. From John’s perspective, the problem is that there is only one MOV equipment supplier, Huawei, which means there is low demand and volume, resulting in high costs. John asserted that a software management approach with multi-tenant capabilities could accomplish the same goal much easier for TIM S.p.A. (Telecom Italia) if they were to proceed with their vectoring effort.

Measurement beyond sampling

Many solutions that measure network speeds use a sampling approach. While sampling is better than no measurement, it can be misleading and isn’t a reliable indicator of the Quality of Experience for all consumers. The ASSIA approach, which regularly measures all users’ speeds everywhere generated genuine interest as a much-needed improvement to assure consumer Quality of Experience.

ASSIA Innovation

ASSIA is at the forefront of developing innovative technology for service providers to make the most of their existing copper and fiber access networks. John’s presentation “Artificial intelligence in planning the ubiquitous 1 Gbps access network” and the role AI can play, is just one of many innovations ASSIA is bringing to the industry. Read more about ASSIA’s broadband, fiber, and Wi-Fi management and optimization solutions.


The Case for Managed Home Wi-Fi | Download Free Paper

As we enter 2019, the definition of home broadband service has expanded all the way to the device. Residential customers are defining their quality of experience based on what happens between the gateway and their devices. As a result, we at ASSIA, Inc. commissioned Adlane Fellah, Senior Analyst at Maravedis, to research and write a whitepaper for us focused on “The Case for Managed Home Wi-Fi”.  Mr. Fellah has authored various landmark reports on Wi-Fi, LTE, 4G, and technology trends in various industries, including retail, restaurant, and hospitality.

Here are some of the topics the white paper “The Case for Managed Home Wi-Fi” covers.

Managed Home Wi-Fi: Demand and Complexity

Residential customers now rely on the quality of their internet connection to fulfill an ever-expanding number of digital uses:

  • Communication via voice, chat, and video conferences
  • Entertainment by streaming TV, movies, music, and gaming
  • Shopping online
  • And more

While managed Wi-Fi is increasing in importance, its complexity is also growing and becomes more difficult to manage for end-users alone. The upcoming introduction of 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) brings both greater performance and more complexity to the mix of old and new technologies, so service providers will have to make some hard choices about where and when to invest.

The Business Case for Managed Home Wi-Fi

For the operators already dealing with decreased revenues from cord cutting and the intrusion of OTTs into the home through their voice recognition devices, the case for managed home Wi-Fi includes the following opportunities:

  • Managing and reducing operational costs (OpEx) by gaining visibility of connectivity issues inside the home and leveraging diagnostic tools
  • Maximizing the ROI from capital investment (CapEx) by optimizing equipment and service performance
  • Creating new revenue streams
  • Reducing churn by giving customers a differentiated quality of experience

Consequently, the combination of demand and complexity, make a strong case for managed home Wi-Fi becoming an essential component of the broadband service delivery.

In the whitepaper, Adlane covers:

  • Factors affecting home Wi-Fi performance such as dead zones and neighborhood interference, among others
  • The cost of poor Wi-Fi performance such as a high number of tier 1 and tier 2 service tickets, technician dispatches, long customer service calls, unnecessary gateway swaps, and customer churn
  • The benefits of a managed home Wi-Fi solution including reduced OpEx, reduced CapEx, and new revenues
  • Deployment considerations such as the impact of 802.11ax in the home, EasyMesh™, WAN and LAN optimization, and regulatory considerations

We at ASSIA strongly encourage you to read this excellent paper by Adlane Fellah, “The Case for Managed Home Wi-Fi”.


Wi-Fi NOW Berlin | Wi-Fi Work Congress Expo and Conference

ASSIA, Inc. recently participated in the Wi-Fi NOW Berlin conference. Wi-Fi Now exists to support and promote all things Wi-Fi and to make high-quality, high-performance Wi-Fi available everywhere, for everyone. With the investment ASSIA has made in managed Wi-Fi recently, we decided to support the event. Carriers, service providers, technology vendors, and regulators from around the globe participated.

Two members of the ASSIA team were among the list of distinguished speakers that included representatives from the Wi-Fi Alliance, OFCOM, Deutsche Telekom, KPN, ARRIS, LANCOM and Qualcomm.

Topics covered at Wi-Fi Berlin ranged from new Wi-Fi business models and monetization, innovations that are boosting Wi-Fi performance, security, standards, and the emergence of “Wi-Fi first” mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) and their potential to disrupt the mobile market.

Leading Telecom Operators Are Taking Responsibility for Wi-Fi Customer Experience

Several of the presentations validated ASSIA’s recent focus on managed Wi-Fi with at least two telecom operators demonstrating their commitment to taking responsibility for the customer experience in the home.

In their keynote, “Present and Future of In-home Wi-Fi Connectivity”, Telenet showcased their app that helps consumers find the optimal placement of their gateways in their homes. KPN showcased their ability to fine-tune Wi-Fi in the home by specifying the number of rooms and floors and then testing performance and speed.

Enabling Bandwidth to the Device

ASSIA’s EVP of Development and Strategy, Tuncay Cil, gave a very well-received presentation, “Enabling Bandwidth to the Device”.

Tuncay first discussed the evolution of bandwidth and performance goals for mobile and fixed line carriers. He then exposed some myths detailed in the chart below.

MYTH FACT
New generation of Wi-Fi will deliver high bandwidth-to–the-device Coverage, interference, and noise problems impair delivery of bandwidth-to-the-device
5GHz will enable at least 450Mbps to the connected devices Marginal improvement is being seen with 5GHz:  80%<100Mbps, 34%<30Mbps 10%<3Mbps
Adding extra access points will deliver reliable bandwidth to the devices Adding unmanaged access points have no or little effect on fixing coverage problems

Then Tuncay presented survey data on how low Quality of Experience (QoE) impacts carrier operations. Not only does poor QoE drive the highest number of calls and tech dispatches, it creates a:

  • 8x increase in call rate
  • 3x increase in dispatch rate

And Tuncay discussed that Wi-Fi and 5G are not on track to deliver reliable bandwidth to the device to solve these problems for carriers. Instead, QoE management will get more complex as households move from single access points to multiple access points in the home, as multi-unit dwellings start installing their own networks, and these all compete with each other for bandwidth.

And at the end of his Wi-Fi Berlin keynote, Tuncay shared some initial results carriers are seeing using ASSIA CloudCheck and its adaptive predictive analytics to manage bandwidth to the device, such as:

  • 30% decrease in calls to the call center
  • 16% decrease in field tech dispatches

Read more about CloudCheck.

Q&A Panel Wi-Fi Berlin: The Future of the Wi-Fi Connected Home

Jerome Anastase, ASSIA’s VP of EMEAR, joined the AVP of product management from Celeno, a general manager from Qorvo, and the co-founder and CEO of Rethink Technology Research for a question and answer panel. Some of the topics discussed were:

  • Technology for great home Wi-Fi
  • Role of carriers in providing home Wi-Fi services
  • Role of new consumer mesh products
  • How “headless” Wi-Fi IoT products can be connected safely
  • How AI & machine learning can assist in serving up great Wi-Fi to every device

But the primary jest of the conversation came back to two of the more popular topics:

  • Service providers taking more responsibility for the customer experience of home Wi-Fi
  • Service providers needing instrumentation to know what is going on in the home, including topology and devices so they can effectively manage home Wi-Fi for a better customer experience

To learn more about Wi-Fi Berlin, the Wi-Fi NOW organization and the events they hold all over the world throughout the year visit www.wifinowevents.com

Watch the video of Tuncay’s keynote presentation,  “Enabling Bandwidth to the Device“.

 

If you would like a copy of Tuncay’s slides, please email [email protected]

 


Best Practices in Wi-Fi Management, using VICTOR…

A Common Goal

An optimized Wi-Fi network is one ubiquitous desire of every Internet service subscriber around the globe.   The goal of each subscriber – and their service provider  – is to enable an optimized home Wi-Fi environment which is (to use the definition of Optimization from Webster’s Dictionary) as “fully perfect, functional and efficient as possible.”

Wi-Fi Complexity

Wi-Fi is essential to communication, yet remains difficult for subscribers to understand – let alone to manage.  In a recent deployment of ASSIA’s CloudCheck® Wi-Fi management solution by a global operator, it was discovered that over 40% of subscribers with dual band gateways had never once utilized the 5GHz band.  The operator, which was dealing with large volumes of customer support calls related to home Wi-Fi, was shocked to discover that 4 out of 10 subscribers – who likely could have benefited from the increased throughput offered by the 5Ghz band – were unaware they had an alternative to the slower 2.4GHz band.

In addition to the fact that Wi-Fi band, channel and other settings remain elusive to most Wi-Fi users, there is also the reality that Wi-Fi environments undergo a great deal of change over the course of a few minutes or hours.  Factors which impact Wi-Fi performance such as interference and noise are often fluid.  ASSIA has found that a home Wi-Fi network requires multiple changes per day to properly react to the influences which impact the network.  This need for change and complexity increases as the number of Wi-Fi devices in the home grows.

Addressing Complexity with VICTOR

V

Visibility.  The first step to optimizing anything is visibility.  Whether one is a plumber in one’s kitchen, a mechanic under the hood of a car, or a general facing a battlefield…  each person’s first step would be to gain visibility to the situation.  Where is the leak?  What is broken?  Where is the enemy approaching?

In the case of Wi-Fi, it is essential to receive as much information on the environment as possible.  ASSIA’s CloudCheck places an agent in home user gateways which pulls extensive diagnostics from the Wi-Fi driver to gain visibility.  The agent sends that information to ASSIA’s  Cloud – providing CloudCheck with real-time data into a given home’s Wi-Fi environment.

 

I

Insight is achieved when information is evaluated.  For example, CloudCheck compares a Wi-Fi network’s current (real-time) information against collected historical data.  The ASSIA cloud collects and stores information and creates a histogram for devices.  Insight is gained, and recommendations are created by the CloudCheck system.

These recommendations can be seen by the operator and subscriber alike.  Examples include:

Change Channel, Switch Band, Enable Optimization, Update Aging Gateway, or Reboot Router.

It is worth noting that the cloud has limitless storage and can maintain extensive amounts of historical data.  The comparison of real-time and historical data offers deeper insights than might be achieved by a heuristic on-gateway optimization.

 

C

Control is the act of “directing influence” over someone or something.  In the case of plumbing, control could involve a new gasket, Teflon tape or simple tightening of a fitting.  In the case of Wi-Fi, CloudCheck can automate the execution of a given recommendation.  CloudCheck can tell the gateway to change the channel, switch a band, reboot the Wi-Fi Driver etc.  CloudCheck can take corrective action to improve stability, increase throughput, decrease latency, account for noise – in very-near real-time.

Many may think of control as a reactive response to insight gained from visibility.

 

T

Tuning.  As corrective actions are taken in a given system, the CloudCheck solution gains even greater insight.  Machine learning algorithms achieve deeper understanding of a given environment – and to the performance of nodes accessing that environment.  Over the course of days and weeks, the system becomes more intelligent and enable more proactive management approaches.

 

O

Optimization is achieved when a system is capable of reacting to influences in real time, but also to pro-actively adjust settings or alter parameters in order to achieve that “most fully perfect” Wi-Fi environment.

 

R

Resilience.  CloudCheck optimization allows a Wi-Fi system to proactively adapt and change to maintain efficiency.   Service providers can leverage the information in a single optimized environment with the knowledge gained across thousands of such networks in order improve resilience across their entire network, and to maximize the quality of experience (QoE) of all its subscribers.

With CloudCheck, service providers are able to validate performance and changes by measuring, monitoring and scoring QoE across an entire network.

Each element of this approach is dependent on other elements.  The foundation, of course is visibility.  Insight then allows for effective control.  Tuning enables the proactive optimization of an environment.  Optimization allows for automated remediation of issues and proactive adjustments.

 

VICTOR and Mesh

This VICTOR approach applies to all deployment types. The more complex the environment, the more beneficial this approach becomes.  Let’s look at Mesh Wi-Fi Environments as an example:

Visibility – For mesh network management, visibility of all devices and the access points to which they are connected is essential because the topology is more complex than that of non-mesh environments.  This visibility of high value to customer care agents who are addressing subscriber issues over the phone.

Insight – CloudCheck analyzes Wi-Fi Gateway environments and provides recommendations to operators on which subscribers could benefit from Mesh.  In addition, for subscribers who CloudCheck deems as strong candidates for Mesh, the subscriber can be provided with detail on placement and onboarding assistance.

Control – The CloudCheck Agent/Cloud (Layered Cloud) architecture allows operators to leverage the power of the cloud with real-time performance in order to initiate complex mesh-related changes to items such as topology management, steering and roaming across mesh nodes.

Tuning – Historical analysis and predictive recommendations using long term data and device usage patterns in the cloud allow operators to apply learned behaviors to tune mesh networks, set thresholds and establish parameters.   While this is important in a non-mesh (gateway only) network, this is vastly more complex in a mesh environment.  A mesh network with six nodes would have 41,000 possible topologies from which to choose an optimal topology.

Optimization – CloudCheck is hardware agnostic and allows optimization across multi-vendor networks, which is essential in creating a consistent user experience.  As mesh environments and standards evolve, the adoption of multi-vendor approaches will increase.  This underscores the importance of optimization across multi-vendor deployments.

Resilience – The more complex an environment, the greater the need for resilience.  Achieving resilience in a densely congested multi dwelling unit (MDU) or a multi-node mesh environment may require more aggressive steering optimization policies than a rural deployment or single gateway environment.

Service providers can leverage VICTOR which is applicable to all subscriber networks including mesh.  This approach enables service providers to assist their subscribers in achieving the most “fully perfect, functional and efficient” Wi-Fi network possible.


Managing Wi-Fi Across Legacy CPEs with Incognito

On July 31 ASSIA and Incognito issued a joint press release with the headline:  Incognito and ASSIA Announce Partnership for Proactive Wi-Fi Management.   ASSIA has a complete set of broadband and Wi-Fi management solutions for ISPs and MSOs.  This leaves one to wonder about the importance and value of such a partnership?

In order to better understand the value of such a partnership, let’s delve deeper into the technology benefits of ASSIA’s CloudCheck for Wi-Fi management, and let’s further consider what Incognito brings to the table for service providers.

Challenges of Deploying Wi-Fi Management

Today’s global service providers are faced with an ever-increasing barrage of Wi-Fi related customer care calls.  Operators throughout the world have shared with ASSIA that Wi-Fi problems account for 50% or more of their in-bound customer support inquires.  This creates a heavy resource burden and drives up OPEX for customer care.

The ever-increasing demand on home Wi-Fi networks requires sophisticated and effective solutions that provide visibility and proactively resolve issues through automated optimization across the service provider’s entire subscriber network.   The dynamic nature of Wi-Fi usage across a multitude of devices in the home requires a management solution to operate in real-time and provide intelligent proactive care.

Service providers also want to provide Wi-Fi management across a mix of CPE types, including legacy CPEs and newer models that are deployed in the network.  They are looking for a solution that can address the entire network, without requiring massive upgrades in hardware.

ASSIA has found service providers need Wi-Fi management solutions that offer:

  • Advanced, intelligent, software capabilities that incorporates deep diagnostics, analytics, and learning-base optimization
  • Upgrades and scales across all CPE types as the subscriber network evolves
  • Is simple and easy-to-use, yet flexible , for call centers, agents, and field technicians

Solving for the Impossible?

Vendors in the market today provide a variety of different approaches to address Wi-Fi management.  These approaches include gateway/hardware-based solutions or ACS/TR-069 based methodologies.  While beneficial in some ways, there are shortcomings to these approaches.

Gateway/HW based solutions lack adequate the local compute power and storage to handle sophisticated diagnostics and contextual-based optimization.   Any Wi-Fi management capability is tied to specific CPE models only.

ACS/TR-069 based solutions lack the real-time performance and rich diagnostics and optimization capabilities required for managing residential Wi-Fi today.  Addressing the dynamic performance requirements across millions of homes requires a system that can efficiently scale and optimize Wi-Fi networks across all use cases.

Unlike hardware and TR-069 based solutions, the CloudCheck cloud and agent-based architecture provides the real-time control and management coupled with the historical, machine-learning based optimization.  The CloudCheck software solution allows deployment across all CPEs in the service provider’s entire network.

Benefits of the Incognito Partnership

Incognito offers an ACS system which provides provisioning capability for CPEs across all CPE makes and models based on TR-069 and TR-181.    The joint ASSIA + Incognito solution integrates the ASSIA CloudCheck solution with the Incognito Digital Service Platform, extending a portion of the CloudCheck capabilities across legacy, agent-less devices.  In addition, the integration solution provides a unified customer care interface across both legacy and agent-based CPEs.

Until now, legacy devices have had very limited Wi-Fi management capability.  By extending the CloudCheck solution to the Incognito platform, an operator can have a unified customer care interface to support a subset of CloudCheck capabilities across legacy CPEs as well a comprehensive suite of diagnostics and optimization features across modern CPEs with CloudCheck agents.  This creates a more uniform and consistent care experience across all classes of devices in a service provider’s network.


Why Cloud for Wi-Fi Management?

Today’s global service providers are faced with an ever increasing barrage of Wi-Fi related customer care calls.  Operators throughout the world have shared with ASSIA that Wi-Fi problems account for 50% or more of their in-bound customer support inquires.  With an overall objective to significantly reduce the number of these costly customer care engagements while providing visibility and control over the balance, operators require a sophisticated Cloud/Agent based Wi-Fi management solution.

In recent years, operators have come to realize that Cloud/Agent Based Wi-Fi management platforms – such as ASSIA’s CloudCheck solution are required and are vastly superior to TR-069 or other and gateway-based (SON) solutions.  Below we will discuss why the market is embracing this Cloud/Agent architecture.

The Cloud and Wi-Fi Management

The ever increasing demand on Wi-Fi networks in the home today require sophisticated and capable solutions that provide visibility and resolve issues through automated optimization.  Gateway devices simply cannot offer sufficient compute power to perform analysis, nor dedicate nearly enough storage space on board to facilitate optimization.  Such a system requires an agent on the gateway working in harmony with an engine running complex algorithms in the cloud.

CloudCheck was developed as an Cloud/Agent solution from its inception.  This architecture serves as a foundational strength of CloudCheck and enables the solution to excel at Wi-Fi management to some of the world’s most progressive service providers.

Cloud Compute Power

The Cloud – where ASSIA’s CloudCheck Server resides – offers unlimited storage and unlimited compute power.  CloudCheck needs this to:

  1. Collect extensive detail on each subscriber gateways and the numerous laptops, tablets, smart phones, and other nodes connecting to those gateways
  2. Process detail from the CloudCheck agents on gateways and the nodes
  3. Develop histograms for each subscriber gateway
  4. Run numerous CloudCheck algorithms to make recommendations and create an ideal policy to manage each Wi-Fi environment
  5. Enable real-time processing of information
  6. Perform historical analysis
  7. Determine recommendations
  8. Establish optimization actions for each gateway and node in the environment
  9. Calculate Quality of Experience Score
  10. Create user, neighborhood, regional or network-wide reporting

Sophistication & Scale

CloudCheck runs a number of sophisticated algorithms to enable the Wi-Fi management platform.  These algorithms are continually enhanced and require a large amount of compute power.  Operators need the ability to manage on a single subscriber, neighborhood, city, region or a global basis.  The ability of the cloud to house significant amounts historical data for a broad number of subscribers is key – as it makes the data available for analysis.

The more information CloudCheck’s algorithm is fed – the better the result and the greater the accuracy.

Context & Machine Learning

Home Wi-Fi networks are highly dynamic.  The ability to make intelligent recommendations and effective optimization actions are essential for operators to maintain a high quality of experience (QoE) for subscribers.

CloudCheck performs complex real time analysis and compares its findings to the knowledge gained through historical analysis.  CloudCheck gathers and analyzes histogram data across every station on each band of the Wi-Fi gateway.  It juxtaposes this against real-time usage information it receives from the gateway to determines context.  This notion of context allows CloudCheck to be highly effective and extremely accurate in its optimizations.

In our previous blog series,  ASSIA’s Approach to Machine Learning, we discussed how CloudCheck exploits machine learning to improve Wi-Fi Quality of Experience.  The cloud has the scale and power to run AI and machine learning algorithms efficiently while improving the accuracy and effectiveness of optimizations over time.

In comparison, context is simply not possible in a TR-69 or gateway based SON solution.

Visibility

Although the overall intent is to minimize support calls through optimization, it is essential for operators to have visibility in to subscriber home Wi-Fi environments in order to react to the remaining problems, proactively address issues, and positively impact the Quality of Experience (QoE) of each of their subscribers.  A Cloud/Agent-Based management system is essential in giving real time visibility and historical insight in to a home Wi-Fi environment.

CloudCheck provides real-time visibility to key elements of a subscriber Wi-Fi environment, such as:

  1. Network Up/Down
  2. Device health
  3. CPU Utilization
  4. Broadband speed
  5. Wi-Fi speed for every node in the environment
  6. Deep Analytics of the Wi-Fi environment

Because CloudCheck houses its data in the cloud, it can be leveraged to provide visibility to operator call centers through an ASSIA GUI or through the operator’s existing OSS utilizing CloudCheck APIs.  In addition, a CloudCheck app (or operator enabled custom app) can provide visibility to the home Wi-Fi environment for Operator Field Technicians and Subscribers alike.