Ken Kerpez

Posted by Ken Kerpez

ASSIA Ph.D., IEEE Fellow


Ken Kerpez has published 3 blog posts.

Wi-Fi Data Elements and CloudCheck

For internet service providers taking responsibility for managing their subscriber’s home Wi-Fi, or wanting to, the recent announcement by the Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) regarding Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Data Elements—a standard set of Wi-Fi diagnostics parameters—is welcome news. It defines a standard set of Wi-Fi data elements for diagnostics that will make it easier for service providers and vendors like ASSIA to gather and make sense of data from diverse CPE.

ASSIA is an active contributor to this new standard as well as upcoming Wi-Fi standards. The CloudCheck architecture, which is proven to effectively manage home Wi-Fi, is designed to take advantage of the WFA Data Elements, as well as the WFA EasyMesh standard, and the upcoming TR-369 User Services Platform standard from the Broadband Forum.

Now, let’s talk about this new standard and how it will help internet service providers.

Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Data Elements™

The Wi-Fi Alliance Data Elements give service providers better visibility into customer Wi-Fi networks for such key performance indicators (KPI) as Wi-Fi data rates, airtime, and retry rates. It establishes a standardized data model built specifically for Wi-Fi networks that encompasses 130 KPIs.

Helps Service Providers with Remote Troubleshooting

Wi-Fi Data Elements contains a carefully selected set of Wi-Fi diagnostics parameters which are important for remote Wi-Fi troubleshooting. When a customer contacts their service provider, Data Elements enables technical support personnel to review Wi-Fi performance, status, counters, and network data for remote diagnosis. Used with an automated Wi-Fi management system, Data Elements can reduce trouble calls, lower truck rolls, decrease hardware replacement, and increase customer satisfaction.

Helps Service Providers Optimize In-Home Wi-Fi Topology

A big challenge service providers have managing and assuring QoS, is not having insight into what is going within the home. Wi-Fi Data Elements can be used by a Wi-Fi management system to identify coverage issues in a home, which can then be resolved by deploying a Multi-AP network configured via Wi-Fi CERTIFIED EasyMesh™ .

wi-fi data elements

Both single-AP and multi-AP profiles are supported by Wi-Fi Data Elements. The Data Elements Collector is in the gateway or other AP for the single-AP profile. The Data Elements Collector is in the Wi-Fi device that also has the EasyMesh controller for the multi-AP profile. The Data Elements Agent records the data model. Information is gathered rapidly by the Data Elements Collector and timestamped without use of significant network resources. Upon request, the agent sends saved data models to the Data Elements Collector, as shown in the Figure. In addition, association and disassociation event notifications are sent autonomously from the Data Elements Agent.

Wi-Fi Data Elements Objects and Parameters

The objects and parameters in Wi-Fi Data elements are read only and include those in the following table.

Network device list Data rates
Device and radio IDs and capabilities Signal strengths
Utilizations (airtime) Scan results
Wi-Fi Multimedia (WMM) prioritization capabilities Neighboring APs data
Operating class Unassociated station data
Counters per AP and per associated stations Association and disassociation events

The Data Elements YANG model and JSON schema are included in the Data Elements Specification Package. There is a Data Elements test plan in addition to the specification, this test plan enables certification.

Data Elements and TR-369/User Services Platform

Data Elements is being written as a new object in the TR-181 2.13 Device.WiFi data model, which already specifies 250 parameters including write objects for remote configuration that has been commonly used by TR-069. The upcoming TR-369/USP standard from the Broadband Forum, will not only use this updated TR-181 data model, but also will be able to handle the real-time data, communication, and control requirements of today’s Wi-Fi networks. Requirements that are driven by the high number of IoT, mobile, and entertainment devices in a home, mesh networking, security concerns, and multiple OTT services connecting to CPEs in a distributed fashion.

ASSIA CloudCheck and the New Standard

Wi-Fi Data Elements uses an Agent-Cloud system for gathering data as depicted in Figure 1 above, similar to the architecture of ASSIA CloudCheck for Wi-Fi management. The CloudCheck Agent, which is embedded in APs, gathers a significant amount of data in addition to those in the Data Elements standard, at a very fine timescale. This data is pre-processed, filtered, and sent up to CloudCheck Server. Our field experience gathering this data has been instrumental in our contributions to the upcoming TR-369 standard which will help CloudCheck get the data it needs at the speed it needs.

Retrieving Wi-Fi data is an important first step; however such a torrent of raw data can overwhelm technical support personnel. Data analyses are vital to interpreting the data for presentation to personnel, or to enable automated responses. CloudCheck uses sophisticated cloud-based machine learning algorithms to identify:

  • problems related to coverage
  • interference
  • congestion
  • legacy Wi-Fi clients
  • latency
  • time-of-day usage.

To help service providers distinguish between internet QoS and user-perceived Wi-Fi QoE, CloudCheck can identify broadband access vs. Wi-Fi bottlenecks, and their impact on the user experience.

CloudCheck further automates Wi-Fi configuration optimization; to optimally allocate channels, bands, client associations, and other Wi-Fi configurations. Wi-Fi Data Elements and other data is analyzed by CloudCheck, to automatically identify Wi-Fi troubles, and in many cases to also automatically remediate these troubles before they would adversely impact customer satisfaction and increase operations costs.

The Future of the Wi-Fi Diagnostics Standard

Work has now started on Data Elements release 2, and ASSIA is very involved in moving this forward. At this time, Data Elements release 2 is envisioned to include objects for: Remote Configuration and Control, Multi-AP Release 2, Wi-Fi 6, and Agile Multiband (MBO).

As always, ASSIA is very committed to the advancement of industry standards and will support future versions of this Wi-Fi Data Elements standard so that more service providers can take responsibility for their subscribers Wi-Fi QoE and:

  1. Offer new services in the form of different levels of service, leasing or selling additional access points, etc.
  2. Reduce service and support operational expenses
  3. Improve customer satisfaction and retention
  4. Increase revenues

Read the Interview with Tuncay Cil, ASSIA Chief Strategy Officer, about Data Elements on Wi-Fi Now.


ASSIA Vision for Wi-Fi Virtualization

Virtualization is transforming the telecom landscape, by moving network functions into the cloud where operators have ready access. Virtualization enables rapid upgrades (milliseconds instead of weeks), plug-and-play interoperation with many other functions, an innovative ecosystem, essentially unlimited computed power of a datacenter, and myriad other benefits. Many equipment vendors are moving toward providing control-plane software functions which compliment data-plane hardware functions. But what about Wi-Fi virtualization?

Being at the end of the network, Wi-Fi hasn’t seen much in the way of virtualization. For example, Wi-Fi Alliance Wi-Fi CERTIFIED EasyMesh™ (aka Multi-AP) controllers are now limited to being within Wi-Fi Access Points. However, a series of recent efforts by ASSIA aim to improve this, to enable Wi-Fi virtualization by bringing the control plane of Wi-Fi into the cloud.

Cloud-based Management and Control of Wi-Fi

ASSIA CEO, Professor John Cioffi, recently presented “Wi5G: A Wireless Convergence Vision” as the Wi-Fi Now Keynote; then further expanded the subject with Wi-Fi Alliance presentation “Ergodic Spectrum Management (ESM) (a next “Wi5G” step).” These talks showed benefits of cloud-based management and control of Wi-Fi, highlighting a number of areas where advanced management and multiuser optimization can greatly benefit Wi-Fi performance and customer Quality of Experience (QoE). There was great interest in these advancements, particularly among broadband network operators and providers of “carrier-grade” Wi-Fi.

 

wifi-virtualization

Figure 1

Standards Initiatives for Wi-Fi Virtualization

As ASSIA’s Director of Standards, I am actively working to cloud-enable Wi-Fi in the Wi-Fi Alliance and in the Broadband Forum. In the near-term, I am working to strengthen the Data Elements release 2 specification so that it can be used by a cloud-based system to remotely control and manage EasyMeshTMcontrollers. I’m also proposing specification support for cloud-based EasyMeshTM controllers. EasyMeshTM communicates via Ethernet Type-Length-Value (TLV) messages in a customer premises LAN. These messages can traverse a WAN via IP encapsulation, passing through a layer-2 tunnel such as GRE or VxLAN, or being carried via a message transfer protocol. As figure 1 shows, a gateway can support such LAN-to-WAN message transfer. A promising message transfer protocol for this purpose is the User Services Platform (USP), The Broadband Forum’s successor to TR-69.

Related Virtualization Standards Initiatives

There are multiple related nascent efforts in the industry. The concept of virtualizing CPE is already established, already being specified by Broadband Forum TR -317, Network Enhanced Residential Gateway (NERG). Virtual CPE network functions are already being sold, such as enhanced firewall and parental controls. Edge computing can enable a low-latency, therefore high-performance, cloud controller; and the Broadband Forum Cloud CO project is establishing edge computing for broadband networks. Remote EasyMeshTMcontrollers are also being considered by the joint Broadband Forum – Prpl Foundation Open Broadband-Multi-AP (OB-MAP) project, which has an opensource implementation of EasyMeshTM.

Time to Move to Wi-Fi Virtualization

ASSIA Cloudcheck has advantageously implemented cloud-based Wi-Fi management and control for some time now. ASSIA is pleased about, and actively encourages, the industry move toward Wi-Fi virtualization.


G.fast, MGfast, and Beyond

G.fast is now being rolled out by several operators to provide ultra-fast broadband. G.fast can deliver nearly one Gigabit per second (Gbps) on telephone lines and over one Gbps on coax. G.fast provides an economical alternative to Fiber to the Home (FTTH), eliminating the high cost of fibering the last few hundred meters, while still pulling fiber deeper to provide ultra-fast service.

G.fast management

G.fast has many capabilities which enable robust high-speed service over existing and in-home telephone wiring; including:

  • Vectoring to cancel crosstalk
  • Retransmission and coding to correct errors
  • Low-power modes and reverse-power feed (RPF)
  • Many on-line reconfiguration capabilities, including:
    • Seamless Rate Adaptation (SRA)
    • Fast Rate Adaptation (FRA)
    • Robust Management Channel Parameter Adjustment (RPA)
    • RMC recovery (RMCR).

ASSIA works throughout the standards communities to ensure that equipment vendors provide open interfaces for operators to manage such capabilities. Each of these capabilities can be configured in many ways via many operator-configurable parameters. And, these are in addition to the margin, data rate, re-initialization and many other configurations common to DSLs. Further, the downstream:upstream asymmetry ratio of G.fast is configurable and can vary with real-time traffic loads. The G.fast environment is highly variable line-by-line, and to configure each G.fast line for best performance is impossible (unless perhaps an operator recruits an army of Ph.Ds in communication theory). But there is a solution: ASSIA DSL Expresse® is now adapted to automatically configure G.fast for the highest customer satisfaction and fewest trouble calls.

Multi-Gigabit fast (MGfast)

After G.fast, the ITU-T is now defining multi-gigabit fast (MGfast) for applications such as fiber-to-the building, fiber-to-the curb, and feeding small cells. MGfast is expected to have all the capabilities of G.fast and more, while running at multi-gigabit speeds. New duplexing and frame structures are being defined to provide wireline and 5G applications on a single backhaul or fronthaul MGfast line, including ultra-reliable and low-latency communications, and ultra-fast broadband. These traffic types should be supported on separate virtual network slices with the operator-configured boundaries. MGfast management will be even more challenging than that of G.fast.

Waveguide over copper

Beyond MGfast lies a new concept now being studied by a group of ASSIA® researchers: Waveguide over copper, which enables the Terabit DSL (TDSL). This exploits waveguide transmission modes, in particular transmission modes that are efficiently transported on the surface of a conductor such as copper wire. Waveguide over copper runs at millimeter frequencies (about 30 GHz to 1 THz) and is synergistic with 5G/6G wireless. A type of vectoring is applied to effective separate the many modes that can propagate within a telephone cable. Preliminary analyses project that waveguide over copper should support about the following per-home data rates:

100 meters 300 meters 500 meters
1 Tbps (=1000 Gbps) 100 Gbps 10 Gbps