ASSIA

Posted by ASSIA

Marketing Team


ASSIA has published 16 blog posts.

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.


Wi-Fi Mesh Extenders: Truth or Hype?

Introduction

ASSIA recently announced support for the Wi-Fi Alliance EasyMesh™ certification program.  Wi-Fi EasyMesh™ delivers a standards-based approach to deploying multiple access points from different vendors, extending uniform Wi-Fi coverage and enhancing performance throughout a larger service area than is possible with a single access point.

Why is ASSIA endorsing Wi-Fi EasyMesh?  First of all, interoperability is good for the service provider market.  A standards-based approach means service providers can achieve more flexibility and reduce costs, while delivering a consistent Wi-Fi management experience.

The mesh and extender product category has been around for some time, which begs the question why another standard is needed for this device category.  I’d like to provide some perspective around this topic by introducing the Top 3 Myths About Mesh and Extenders

 

Myth #1.  Mesh and Extenders are Equivalent

We often interchangeably refer to repeaters and extenders as devices which will boost, repeat, or extend the Wi-Fi signals to improve coverage in the home.   Residential consumers will often place multiple extenders/repeaters in the home to improve coverage.

However, the broad presence of consumer mesh devices in the market has led to some confusion as to what truly is a mesh network versus a multi-access point or extender based network.

A mesh network is often incorrectly defined as merely a configuration consisting of two or more extenders.   Mesh was originally developed as military-based technology to provide wireless coverage across a wide area.  The IEEE defined a mesh technology called 802.11s, which defined packet routing protocols for forwarding and redirecting packets if wireless nodes were to become inactive. While this technology standard has existed, the industry lacked a true interoperability standard for such devices, and hence implementations become proprietary.

In most  residential deployments, mesh nodes typically get configured in a point-to-point or star topology.   So, in reality, “mesh” deployments are typically not even configured as a true mesh network.  Why should a service provider pay for mesh technology if mesh is not even utilized in a deployment?

Instead, service providers can provide a solution that offers maximum speed/capacity of the backhaul to gateway as well as to stations.   Wi-Fi performance is only as good as the weakest link to the end-user device.  Optimizing performance of the fronthaul and backhaul is also essential for maximizing the gains in an extender environment.

 

Myth #2. Mesh Hardware Eliminates the Need for Wi-Fi Management

We have found in our residential deployments that adding extenders often results in no improvement, and in some cases even results in a loss of coverage in the home.   This often occurs for several reasons.  First of all, extenders are often configured improperly and placed in suboptimal locations in the home.  For example, extenders are often placed where the dead coverage spot in a room is actually located, lacking an adequate backhaul connection to the main gateway or AP.  Extenders can also perform poorly because wireless mesh/extenders can lead to greater congestion in the home due to presence of stronger Wi-Fi signals (RSSI) combined with overlapping channels and bands leading to more interference.  Providing proper Wi-Fi management software tools for extender configuration and placement are essential to maximize the benefits of mesh and extenders.

 

Myth #3. Mesh Extenders are the Panacea for Improving  Wi-Fi Performance

Despite the advances in Wi-Fi technology and standards, achieving reliable and adequate performance throughout the home remains a challenge today.  Service providers lack the diagnostics and visibility into the home and often simply resort to deploying mesh/extenders throughout the house to address performance issues.

However, deploying extenders is effective only if the primary issue affecting performance is due to poor signal strength coverage.  Other factors can impact performance such as interference or noise in the environment.   Simply installing  mesh extenders to address non-coverage related performance problems will only exacerbate the subscriber’s Wi-Fi issues.  Accurate diagnostics and determination of the root causes of performance issues is critical for determining if and when a mesh extender should be deployed.

The Wi-Fi industry has come a long way with interoperability standards.  Mesh and extenders can addresses coverage problems in the home when deployed and managed properly.  With Wi-Fi Alliance EasyMesh™, operators can benefit from standards-based hardware solutions combined with the power of ASSIA’s CloudCheck solution  for network wide residential Wi-Fi management.


Copper or Fiber… is that the Question?

An Environmental Perspective

As recent as last week, Alison Diana, Editor, Broadband World News wrote about the trade offs of copper vs. fiber to the home.  In this case it was mostly from an environmental perspective.  This was in response to a report done by the firm Carbon Smart titled “Our Digital Infrastructure Needn’t Cost the Earth”.

New Development….Fiber!

As ASSIA commented in the article it is not whether one installs copper vs. fiber in a new neighborhood.  Clearly most would agree that installing fiber is the best choice for long term bandwidth needs and is a cleaner alternative to mining and installing copper from an environmental perspective.  In summary….new development….go Fiber!

Existing Development….Not so fast! (no pun intended)

Here we have to consider the sunk financial and environment costs vs. incremental costs.  Digging up the street, families’ yards and walls is clearly more disruptive and expensive than continuing to leverage the copper lines already in place.  Fortunately cable and DSL technologies have continued to progress allowing service providers to keep up with the demands of their customer’s bandwidth needs.  In some cases this might be all copper and in other cases a hybrid of copper and optical.

It’s no lie, I can multiply!

It all about the math. As a consumer we want fast internet, but we are only willing to pay so much for it.  In fact, we want to pay less for it.  Look at the trend with content…. we want the content for free or close to it with over the top.  Unfortunately, as demonstrated by some of the failed initiatives for an all fiber networks, the math does not work out.  The cost of ripping up the streets to replace copper with fiber can’t be justified in most cases.

Full Toolbox

Service providers use a toolbox approach for designing the most appropriate broadband solutions for customers’ needs, Alison Diana, editor of Broadband World News told ASSIA.

“Sometimes that does mean all fiber. Sometimes it doesn’t. Tossing out the option of VDSL and G.fast solely on the basis of one pro-environmental consulting firm’s whitepaper seems foolhardy and does not put the customer’s needs first. Operators often turn to G.fast, for example, to meet the high-speed broadband needs of people who live in apartments and historic homes, which cannot have holes bored into them – in part because they’re historic, in part because they’re possibly full of hazardous materials like asbestos,” said Diana, who’s Light Reading publication is focused on fixed broadband.

So what does any of this have to do with ASSIA?

Actually, everything!  ASSIA’s suite of vendor agnostic software platform’s help bring reliable high-performance internet to our homes whether on copper or fiber.  This keeps customer satisfaction high while driving down service provider costs….and the consumers costs down.

What’s wrong with fast, reliable, low cost internet?

Answer (spelt backwards):      gnihtoN


Why are key market leaders committing to ASSIA’s vendor-agnostic Wi-Fi and Broadband Management Solutions?

On March 26th ASSIA announced that three more major operators recently selected ASSIA as  their Wi-Fi and Broadband Management supplier.

These three operators are rolling out ASSIA solutions in 2018 and beyond, providing for up to 25 Million subscriber lines/households over the next several years, with the opportunity to expand over time.  Once deployed, ASSIA’s total number of managed households will be well over 100 million worldwide.

This included a top tier cable operator in North America and two of the world’s largest Telecom companies with operations in Europe and Latin America.

So why are these well known operators selecting ASSIA over other solutions in the market?

  1. The Solution Works – Proven Technology
    1. Both the Expresse DSL/GPON Broadband and the CloudCheck Wi-Fi solutions have been deployed in volume and provide solid returns for ASSIA’s customers providing for a great experience for each of their home subcribers. Remember this is all ASSIA does.  Hardware companies tend not to be as strong at Software.
  2. Hardware Agnostic
    1. ASSIA’s software solutions can work with virtually any hardward platform. This allows operators to use multiple Gateways or DSLAM suppliers and yet be able to standardize on an single powerful agnostic software platform.  Why would an operator want to deal with having multiple interfaces and solutions for their customer care centers?   ASSIA solves that.
    2. Although some of the hardware vendors have their own solutions, ASSIA is open to working with all hardware supplier to support our customers and to form lasting partnerships.
  3. Real Comparisons Done
    1. Most of our customers have formed rigorous selection processes, including extensive and lengthy evaluation and testing. In all cases the provider ultimately determined that ASSIA’s solution was vastly superior.
  4. Growing markets looking for solutions
    1. Whether it is cleaning up Wi-Fi in the home, which everyone can relate to, or the inpractical highly costly deployment of fibre in some of the largest developed markets in the world, ASSIA solutions allow its customers to focus on growth by conintnuing to levereage its current networks.

ASSIA’s CloudCheck® and Expresse® platforms include the best diagnostics and optimization solutions available on the market today.

ASSIA’s vendor- and hardware-agnostic market-leading CloudCheck® Wi-Fi management solution is becoming the de facto Wi-Fi management solution. ASSIA has already deployed this rapidly-maturing solution at multiple service providers – all of which are improving customer experience while driving down customer support costs.  The cloud-based solution manages and optimizes customer in-home Wi-Fi environments to enable improved performance and facilitate Self-Healing, Self-Help and Self-Install capabilities for the home user.  Based on demand from multiple service providers, ASSIA’s CloudCheck is now supported on over 100 different gateway models from the leading vendors.

ASSIA’s Expresse® product line brings superior diagnostics and optimization of high speed DSL and GPON networks.  Over 30 of the world’s leading telecommunications providers use ASSIA’s technology to drive service costs down and improve customer satisfaction.  A list of ASSIA’s current key customers can be found on the ASSIA web site at: https://www.assia-inc.com/customers-partners/assia-key-customers/


Significance of TELUS’s deployment of ASSIA’s CloudCheck® to Manage Residential Wi-Fi

On March 12, 2018, ASSIA announced in a press release that TELUS deployed ASSIA’s market leading CloudCheck Wi-Fi Management solution across their extensive network in Western Canada, including its advanced PureFibre network.

Why is this deployment at TELUS significant and why ASSIA? 

FIRST, TELUS has been a great customer of ASSIA’s as they deployed the company’s Expresse® “broadband to the home” management solution years ago.  TELUS is familiar with the rich history, technology, engineering talent and execution that ASSIA has demonstrated when it comes to the best diagnostic and optimization capabilities.

SECOND, the CloudCheck product allows TELUS call center agents and field technicians to proactively detect and resolve subscriber Wi-Fi issues, while optimizing Wi-Fi performance for their subscribers.  TELUS and its subscribers take advantage of a highly scalable agent-cloud based architecture that provides real-time diagnostics, self-healing, and optimization of Wi-Fi networks.

THIRD, since TELUS engaged with ASSIA in early 2017, they have already broadly deployed the CloudCheck product.  TELUS’s Director of Internet Products and Business Enablement, Mr. Ghani, spoke of ASSIA in a recent press release, in which he graciously said, “ASSIA’s CloudCheck software enables TELUS’ network operations and customer care teams to gain the visibility they need to diagnose and proactively resolve subscriber Wi-Fi issues. The CloudCheck solution allows TELUS to confidently deliver the high-performance, reliable Internet and Wi-Fi services our subscribers expect.”

So, what is ASSIA’s strategy in the Market with CloudCheck?

Many years ago – and well before others – ASSIA recognized the Wi-Fi management need that was developing.  ASSIA’s solid track record over the years with superior management tools for service providers delivering broadband and this early investment has led to a highly mature Wi-Fi management product among a field of less proven/committed products from others.

While competing solutions might be developing the basic functionality, ASSIA is adding new innovative features/improvements from its rich road map and close customer engagements. Service providers invested in the CloudCheck solution understand the challenges will increase over time with the dramatically increased demand for bandwidth and number of connections on home networks, so they want to see a solid foundation today and committed supplier for the long run.

Unlike the suppliers of many of the alternative Wi-Fi management solutions in the market today, ASSIA’s strategy is to only focus on hardware agnostic software. This enables CloudCheck to support virtually any hardware its telco and cable customers wish to deploy.  This vendor agnostic approach was a key differentiator also with the company’s broadband to the home Expresse software platform.

Although several gateway and chipset providers have included Wi-Fi and SON functionality to some degree today or in the past, our customers recognize CloudCheck’s broad feature set and solution maturity. Most also understood that having a single software management platform across an environment which leverages multiple gateway vendors avoids the complexity of multiple management solutions and interfaces in their customer care centers.   A number of these operators have requested that their hardware suppliers work with ASSIA to allow them to standardize on this one CloudCheck platform.   As a result, ASSIA today supports over 100 different gateway models from the market leading suppliers.

ASSIA values its strong relationship with TELUS as well as other operators around the world and looks forward to continuing to work closely with their teams to offer the best Wi-Fi in the industry today and tomorrow.


Enabling Wi-Fi Subscriber Care Across CPEs

ASSIA recently announced CloudCheck support for over 100 gateway/router models. Why is this important and why does it matter?

WI-FI is a Problem!
Despite the availability of high speed broadband to the home, and the adoption of high speed 5GHz Wi-Fi routers and gateways,  Wi-Fi issues in the home remain the:

  • Number one customer complaint for carriers and operators of all sizes
  • Highest cost driver for those providers

During global deployments and trials of ASSIA’s CloudCheck Wi-Fi software platform, ASSIA  found that, on average:

  • 50% of homes experience slow Wi-Fi due to broadband performance bottlenecks
  • 40% of subscriber devices never connect to the 5GHz band
  • 30% of subscribers experience coverage issues in the 5GHz band

Visibility and QoE
Service providers are committed to improving subscriber Quality-of-Experience (QoE) while reducing network operating expenses related to Wi-Fi.  Historically, operators have been unable to gain visibility and control into the home to assess the health of the subscriber Wi-Fi network, let alone trying to resolve Wi-Fi issues.  As a result, the operator care protocols often lead to costly and brute force methods such resetting the subscriber’s router and/or dispatching a field tech to address Wi-Fi related problems.

TR-069 has Limitations
Most solutions in the market for Wi-Fi management have been based on extracting CPE data via TR-069 and TR-181 based data models.  The problem with this approach starts with the inconsistent Wi-Fi and CPE data types available across various CPE vendors and models.  In addition, an effective and accurate Wi-Fi management solution based on TR-069 requires significant network infrastructure and bandwidth to support wide scale deployments across millions of subscribers

Agent-Cloud
As the market leader in Wi-Fi management, ASSIA has taken a different approach in utilizing a cloud and agent architecture to achieve visibility, control, and proactive care of subscriber Wi-Fi.    A lightweight software agent resides on the CPE and gathers extensive Wi-Fi related information from the CPE in a real-time.  This data is sent to the cloud at periodic intervals for analysis and processing in order to provide historical and predictive QoE diagnostics and optimization in order to proactively improve the performance of the Wi-Fi.

Adoption of CloudCheck
Service providers around the world have been embracing ASSIA’s market leading product, and as of today, the CloudCheck® agent is currently available for CPEs which contain Broadcom, Qualcomm, Quantenna, Mediatek, and Intel Wi-FI chipsets.  Over 100 unique platforms from gateway vendors and OEM companies such as ARRIS, ADTRAN, Askey, ASUS, Arcadyan, AirTies, HITRON, Huawei, Linksys, Mitrastar, Netgear, TP-Link, Sagemcom, Technicolor, Zyxel are supported.

Direct-to-Driver
Since integrating a software agent on the CPE has historically been a logistically challenging process, ASSIA® has incorporated a direct-to-chipset driver agent approach, which allows access to rich CPE data while simplifying integration across the same chipset vendor.

API
To facilitate agent deployment across an even broader set of  CPE platforms, ASSIA has also developed a CloudCheck agent API.  The API enables CPE manufacturers to incorporate API functions into a hardware abstraction layer in order to provide CloudCheck agent support independent of Wi-Fi chipset and platform. The agent API allows CPE vendors to ensure portability and provide consistent CloudCheck® functionality across all of their platforms.

Source Code
Agent source code licenses are also available for chipset and CPE ecosystem partners that wish to incorporate the agent into their own platforms.

As the industry embraces agent-based Wi-Fi management, ASSIA is making  agent integration fast, easy, and flexible for all ecosystem partners.

Ecosystem
Contact ASSIA to learn more about its Ecosystem Partner Program (EPP) at [email protected]