Kevin Mukai

Posted by Kevin Mukai

Director Product Marketing, Wi-Fi Solutions


Kevin Mukai has published 4 blog posts.

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.


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.


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]


CloudCheck® Management Software Delivers Quality Residential Wi-Fi

Fixed-line broadband is most often no longer the bottleneck in delivering content and services to the home. Instead, Wi-Fi is frequently the problem as customers access more services, content, and streaming over-the-top (OTT) video across more Wi-Fi devices.  Global operators report that half of inbound technical related service calls today are due to problems in the subscriber Wi-Fi network.

The CloudCheck®  software platform by ASSIA manages and optimizes residential home Wi-Fi networks. It is the cost-effective solution that accurately addresses the underlying Wi-Fi network issues affecting subscriber Quality-of-Experience (QoE). It scales to the entire subscriber network, and seamlessly integrates with existing operator care workflows. The CloudCheck platform dramatically reduces customer-care costs.

The CloudCheck cloud-based architecture uses ASSIA’s Real-Q™ technology for accurate, real-time throughput, connectivity, and latency measurements for each device on the subscriber’s network.

With CloudCheck software and Real-Q technology, true self-healing and optimization for each Wi-Fi device in the network is now possible.

CloudCheck software provides:

  • Accurate Wi-Fi throughput, connectivity, and latency measurements without any software required on the end-user device
  • Powerful server APIs for integrating into the operator OSS/BSS systems
  • Mobile APP for field techs and subscriber self-care

 

KEY CLOUDCHECK PLATFORM FEATURES AND BENEFITS

  • “Real-Q” Technology. Accurate, real-time, historical, predictive Wi-Fi QoE analysis based on user context and measured performance of the Wi-Fi network. Ensures the subscriber’s Wi-Fi experience is always optimal.
  • Real-time speed test capability measures true broadband AND Wi-Fi throughput without any additional software required on the user devices.
  • “Beyond–the-Box” visibility and control. Extends operator QoE beyond the RG to the end-user device. Other solutions cannot heal Wi-Fi issues on a per device level.
  • Self-healing of the Wi-Fi network for optimizing QoE.
  • Self-care and assisted-care for subscribers, field techs and agents via a simple-to-use mobile app so that users can avoid making unnecessary service calls.
  • Software-only solution ensures compatibility with existing and future back-end systems and vendor CPEs.
  • Highly scalable cloud architecture accommodates subscriber networks of any size.
  • Flexible APIs offer capabilities and benefits to ISP operations in a highly adaptable and configurable manner. It ties to existing OSS/BSS, portals, and business intelligence systems.
  • Customizable report generation capabilities. Analytics data is accessible with a set of essential built-in reports for the operator to view, analyze, and correlate data.

The CloudCheck platform is the only solution that supports accurate, real-time, historical and user context based QoE optimization.

Users no longer have to experience gaps in service.  CloudCheck software ensures the Wi-Fi and broadband networks to the home work as advertised.