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Best In-home Wi-Fi Product Winner: TalkTalk and ASSIA

We were very honored that the Wi-Fi Now Award judges awarded ASSIA and its customer TalkTalk the Wi-Fi Now 2019 Award for the Best In-Home Wi-Fi Product. TalkTalk’s game-changing Wi-Fi Hub uses the ASSIA CloudCheck platform to optimize internet to the home and Wi-Fi within the home. The award “honors the vendor creating the in-home Wi-Fi experience that all consumers want: Great Wi-Fi in every room of the house for all of your devices, all the time.”  The winners of the Wi-Fi Now 2019 Awards were determined by an independent board of judges and were announced at the Wi-Fi World Congress International Expo and Conference in London, UK on November 12th.

How TalkTalk Gave In-home Wi-Fi Consumers Great Wi-Fi in Every Room for All Devices and Services

TalkTalk realized that having the best, most reliable, and uncongested IP/MPLS network compared to your competitors is irrelevant to consumer perception if paired with a poor investment in Wi-Fi hardware and management. So to create the best in-home Wi-Fi product, TalkTalk developed its game-changing Wi-Fi Hub through a combination of customer feedback, academic direction, and strong partnerships to deliver to its customers their most sophisticated home gateway to date and provide the strongest connection in more corners of the home than ever before.

Despite the fantastic advantage that the Wi-Fi Hub would bring its customers, TalkTalk recognized that fantastic Wi-Fi hardware on its own would not suffice to create the best in-home Wi-Fi product or deliver the best quality of experience (QoE) to its customers. So, from the start, TalkTalk worked with its trusted connectivity partner, ASSIA, to deploy its Wi-Fi diagnostic and optimization software, ASSIA CloudCheck.

CloudCheck uses Machine Learning (ML) algorithms to predict key QoE parameters on individual Wi-Fi links between an AP and device without the need for software probes on both ends of the link. As a result, TalkTalk has real-time and historical views of millions of devices simultaneously and accurately, ensuring optimum performance and diagnostics into the home environment and empowering the end-user with its rich insight.

TalkTalk’s Use of Unique, Advanced Technology

TalkTalk selected a Broadcom based 4×4 AC2200 solution built by Sagemcom and sought leading industry expert opinion and test services from the likes of the University of Bristol Electrical Engineering team to help design, optimize, and test the best radio array. This was coupled with laboratory interoperability and environmental testing by the University of New Hampshire Interoperability Lab and Cartesian, which included running performance tests to the criteria of the latest Broadband Forum TR-398 in its development stages. This ensured the device was the best in-home Wi-Fi product, and no component lacked in appeal or magnificence.

The testing, benchmarking, and customer feedback showed that the device delivered the in-home experience customers demand from their service provider, but the evaluation and progression cycle didn’t stop at the initial development. With cooperation between TalkTalk, ASSIA, Sagemcom, UNH-IOL, and many other industry experts, the in-life experience was constantly evolved through in-depth Wi-Fi and device management learning from real-world deployments.

Collectively, this led towards the device scoring the highest in independent 3rd party performance testing, the highest customer satisfaction scores, and several independent product recommendations—such as the Which? Best Buy award for consumers and being recognized as the Best In-home Wi-Fi Product by Wi-Fi now judges.

In addition, ASSIA CloudCheck incorporates new artificial intelligence-based algorithms that relate operational network stability metrics to consumer QoE in its diagnostics and optimization methods. Using TalkTalk’s operational data (ex: customer call and dispatch rates), the AI-based algorithms run two learning loops for diagnostics and optimization, and both loops work to maintain the maximum stable data rate on a given link.

CloudCheck uses machine learning (ML) in its proactive care, proactive maintenance, churn predictor, and service-level upsell predictor features. Now, instead of waiting for a subscriber to have a poor quality of experience and contact customer support, CloudCheck will alert TalkTalk to either proactively solve the upcoming problem for the subscriber or contact the subscriber to coach them through self-help to prevent the poor quality of experience. CloudCheck is even able to automatically resolve some QoE problems, including switching devices to different access points to balance loads and switching the frequency band or channel the device is using.

CloudCheck Directly Enhances the Consumer’s Wi-Fi Experience

When considering the technical performance, TalkTalk has enjoyed the return on its investment through the highest benchmark results from independent sources.

Ultimately, performance in the real world matters most, and again, TalkTalk has reaped the benefits on the commitment to strong partnerships by realizing the lowest PTC by device, the highest CSAT/NPS, and the lowest OPEX through better first-time fixes, a reduction in unnecessary or incorrectly assigned truck rolls, and unnecessary equipment replacements.

These real-world benefits and the recognition as the best in-home Wi-Fi product are primarily attributed to TalkTalk’s integration of ASSIA CloudCheck which performs over 20 million optimizations a day.

So far, TalkTalk has seen a:

  • 8% increase in average active throughput on 2.4GHz and 5GHz
  • 20% reduction in Wi-Fi interference
  • 23% increase in the number of stations that mainly operate in 5GHz band
  • 9dBm average RSSI gain
  • 30% of gateways with severe coverage issues had no coverage issues after optimization

Thanks to the continuous data collection and reporting to the cloud, particularly troublesome issues such as time-of-day problems, faulty CPE devices, and intermittent annoyances are automatically monitored and diagnosed without the customer having to do anything.

Growth Potential for the TalkTalk and ASSIA Best In-home Wi-Fi Product

In TalkTalk’s UK market, Wi-Fi and broadband supply and performance requirements are equally tantamount with one another. Providing a Wi-Fi access point that outperforms its rivals’ offerings, exceeds customer expectations, and can be provided to the majority of its new customers for free, entices new customers which is important to facilitate growth.

Wi-Fi Hub’s crown of ASSIA CloudCheck keeps customers’ Wi-Fi performance at its best, builds satisfaction, and reduces TalkTalk’s operating costs through lower support overhead and other costs associated with sub-optimal performance. The additional upfront investment in best-in-class hardware and Wi-Fi management capabilities pays off through a reduced total cost of ownership over a customer’s lifecycle with customer satisfaction levels that can only be achieved with such an investment.


Guide to Cloud-based Wi-Fi Management Standards and Open Source

The landscape of Wi-Fi standards that will help service providers take responsibility for managing home Wi-Fi CPE is still evolving. There are several standards and open source initiatives that are intended to help service providers manage the in-home quality of experience for their subscribers, but none are fully specified or widely adopted yet. This puts the service provider looking for a technology path for managing home Wi-Fi that will serve them today, as well as tomorrow, in a tough situation.  Do they purchase a solution or build it themselves using an open source initiative? Which Wi-Fi standards will impact the effectiveness of their solution today and tomorrow? To help service providers navigate this territory, ASSIA’s Director of Standards, Ken Kerpez, put together a “Guide to Cloud-based Wi-Fi Management Standards”.  The goal of this paper is to help organizations understand the different standards and open-source initiatives and the role each plays in cloud-based Wi-Fi management.

The Present Situation: The “Crossroads”

This section of the “Guide to Cloud-based Wi-Fi Management Standards” looks at how the widely adopted TR-069 protocol, the defacto management standard, was not built to handle the volume and complexity of communications today. The protocol was not designed to cope with factors such as the number of devices, the volume of data, mesh networking, security issues, and multiple IoT devices. As a result, some service providers have developed in-house proprietary solutions. This trend, of course, reduces interoperability and agility.

Evolution of Competition and OTT Technology

This section of the “Guide to Cloud-based Wi-Fi Management Standards” starts with the emergence of Over the Top (OTT) players such as Amazon and Google providing content, applications, e-commerce and consumer electronics creating a challenge for service providers, who were already facing increased costs. As result, many, who may have just implemented TR-069, started to move beyond TR-069 in a variety of ways. It breaks this evolution into three, somewhat overlapping phases.

  • Phase 1: Re-engineering propriety software stacks
  • Phase 2: Interoperability
  • Phase 3: Adoption of common initiatives

CPE Management Standards and Open Source Initiatives

This section of the “Guide to Cloud-based Wi-Fi Management Standards” dives deep into the three major initiatives listed in the table below.

Initiatives

Description & Purpose

Supporting Organizations

USP/TR-369 Remote management of CPE which encompasses IoT. The next generation of the TR-069 standard. Broadband Forum, which has more than 100 principal members, both service providers and vendors (e.g., AT&T, SoftBank, Cisco and Qualcomm)
prplMesh An implementation of Wi-Fi Multi-AP / EasyMesh™ specification from the Wi-Fi Alliance to manage multiple access points with a single on-premise controller. Broadband Forum and prpl Foundation, an opensource, community-driven, collaborative, nonprofit foundation with more than 30 members (e.g., Broadcom, Intel and Vodafone) and more than 200 active engineers
OpenSync Open source middleware to enable common SDN control of, and data collection from, the CPE. Runs on a proprietary server. Plume

As the “Guide to Cloud-based Wi-Fi Management Standards” discusses, these new standards such as USP/TR-369 will make it easier for service providers to take ownership of the Wi-Fi environment as an essential component of their broadband service delivery. These upcoming standards will also enable service providers to offer new and incremental services, expanding their revenue base.

Download the Guide to Cloud-based Wi-Fi Management Standards

To learn more, we encourage you to download the “Guide to Cloud-based Wi-Fi Management Standards”.

Other related materials by ASSIA’s Director of Standards Ken Kerpez, that may be of interest to you are:


ASSIA Participation in Standards Organizations

ASSIA
Marketing Team

Posted on September 4, 2019

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.


7 Factors Driving Future of Home Wi-Fi

David Stevenson
ASSIA CRO. BS in Physics and Electrical Engineering from the University of Sydney.

Posted on July 18, 2019

In 2019 we are celebrating 20 years of Wi-Fi, and it is amazing how far we have come. But as Wi-Fi has become a part of our daily lives and smart devices fill our home, our demands and expectations of Wi-Fi are increasing. Looking forward, I’ve compiled seven factors that will shape the future of home Wi-Fi during its 3rd decade.

1. Managed Home Wi-Fi that Delivers Broadband to the Device will have Significant Value to Consumers and Service Providers

Wi-Fi performance matters to consumers. If consumers pay for 50Mb/s to their home, they expect to get at least that to their device wherever they are, and they choose their provider based on their experience and perception of who best delivers what they pay for. But since most consumers don’t know if their performance problems are caused by their Wi-Fi or the network, they call their service provider when their home Wi-Fi does not perform well, which means:

  • Costly customer service calls and field visits increase
  • Networks and homes need upgrades to meet customer satisfaction demands

ASSIA saw deployments of our Wi-Fi management solution, CloudCheck, triple in 1Q2019, so I predict the future of home Wi-Fi will see more and more service providers take responsibility for managing home Wi-Fi in the first part of the coming decade.

2. Standards are Needed as Industry Moves to Multiple Access Points and Mesh

Wi-Fi has changed the way we consume content in our homes. Home entertainment behavior has moved from families watching TV shows together on a television—often connected via cable—to many devices throughout the home concurrently using Wi-Fi for entertainment, each of which requires good coverage and availability. Today, family members are:

  • Streaming videos from their device anywhere they are
  • Making phone calls via Wi-Fi and messaging apps
  • Shopping online
  • Conducting business using cloud apps
  • Interactively playing multi-person/multi-location games with virtual reality

As a result, consumers care about their Wi-Fi Quality of Service (QoS) and Quality of Experience (QoE) and expect their service providers to:

  • Provide high throughput with low latency
  • Optimize the service to each device based on what they are doing
  • Manage channels and bands as a shared resource within and between homes

The resulting complexity and required interoperability are forcing the industry to move from single-vendor proprietary solutions to standards-based solutions that let consumers mix and match from multiple vendors to meet their unique needs. Standards such as the recently announced Wi-Fi Certified Data Elements™ will be critical for the future of home Wi-Fi. This is why ASSIA has committed significant resources to participating in standards bodies including the Wi-Fi Alliance, Broadband Forum, NICC, ITU, and ETSI.

3. EasyMesh Will Offer Agility and Freedom to Service Providers

EasyMesh is one such standard that defines a standard way for access points and home gateways to talk to each other, allowing devices to be mixed and matched in the home. In the future of home Wi-Fi, this will free service providers from having to bring CPE vendors together to figure out how to get their devices to interwork, which has historically meant service providers had to deploy proprietary software across the devices and take responsibility for testing and maintenance. In many ways, our dependency on the chip manufacturers has held the industry back and been a major obstacle to growth of the ecosystem. The last two decades has shown that chipset vendors don’t have a viable software business and that they should allow others to modernize the software stack.

To date, ASSIA has been a neutral player in this phase of the market with a software solution that can be deployed on any device. As EasyMesh gets implemented as a standard feature of CPE, ASSIA will be able to make our solution work from the gateway to any device. We expect to see this really take off as EasyMesh R2 gets finalized at the end of 2019. That is when we expect to see a lot of devices come to market, which will allow service providers to select a combination of vendors and even offer Wi-Fi management themselves for device users. It will take a while to get new devices through certification, but ASSIA is working to make it a simple software upgrade from our current solution to EasyMesh R2.

4. Interoperability Standards like TR369 and OpenSync Hold Promise for Cloud-Managed Wi-Fi

TR369 is an open standard which uses more modern protocols allowing more detailed and real-time information to be used by cloud-based algorithms to monitor and take action, which we think is the future of home Wi-Fi. It will take a little while to mature and the standard will need to stay up to date as chip and device vendors innovate. It will also need testing to make sure management services and devices interwork properly. That said, TR369 has the promise of doing for Wi-Fi what TR69/TR98/TR181 tried to do but missed the mark—enabling the cloud-based management of Wi-Fi to solve problems in real time. ASSIA is engaged in defining TR369 and has a lot of experience to contribute from using our high-performing protocol.

ASSIA is involved in OpenSync, PRPL, and a several service provider initiatives all aimed at solving the same problem—how to speed time to market for new services and features by reducing interworking problems between management and device as new software is deployed. To a degree, NFV is working to solve similar issues for the network, but like it, we are seeing multiple camps and we still have a way to go for things to mature.

5. Supporting Multiple Dwelling Units (MDUs) Will Become Critical in the Future of Home Wi-Fi

MDUs is a subject I’ve had quite a lot of experience with from a previous phase of my career doing management for GPON and 3GPP small cells. There is definitely huge value to coordinate management across adjacent living units which are within range to interfere with each other’s radio connections. Wi-Fi 6 helps by adding more capacity (channels and bands) and things like MIMO and low-power IoT device operation to the mix. But it will take a while to roll out and for a system to be able to optimize behavior across devices.

In current service provider trials (for 60 and 100 LU’s), ASSIA is seeing real advantage in coordinating Radio Resource Management across devices, such as the better use of the channels and frequency bands, increases in the median transmission rates, and higher availability to create a better quality of experience for users.

6. Wi-Fi 6 (802.11AX) Will Make a Difference, but Not Right Away

While devices are already available which boast Wi-Fi 6 capability, they are not cheap, and experience says it will take a few years to really have a wide impact. Tri-band radio devices and mesh are already happening, and, to a degree, they are solving the same problems—coverage and throughput. Wi-Fi 6 also needs a new generation of consumer devices (phones, tablets, computers, etc.) to take advantage of the new features, which will also take a while.

ASSIA is supporting Wi-Fi 6-capable devices now, but we think it will take another generation of chipsets and devices before the cost comes down and for Wi-Fi 6 to become a significant contributor to the future of home Wi-Fi. In addition, more work is required to implement all the new features in the standard such as MIMO and channel sharing.

7. 5G Has Value but Wi-Fi Will Continue to Have its Place

What we are seeing is that mm wave and the 5G standard promise to become part of the industry solutions for the final leg of broadband to the home. 5G still needs a lot of fiber to the distribution point. Where there are copper or cable drops in place, access technologies are keeping up to deliver bandwidth to the home (ASSIA is very involved in helping manage and optimize these services), but Wi-Fi will remain a key part of in-home distribution where we need something that can go through walls or be distributed across a home to give in-house coverage.

In anticipation of 5G as part of the future of home Wi-Fi, ASSIA is working with service providers with our combined solutions which not only optimize broadband to the home but also broadband in the home and we are now developing solutions for broadband to the device.

Future of Home Wi-Fi Summary

In summary, it’s been a great 20 years and we have made a lot of progress. But as the 7 factors demonstrate, the industry has a lot of work to do to meet the increasing consumer demands and expectations for the future of home Wi-Fi, and ASSIA is here to do our part. ASSIA looks forward to making significant contributions to the future of home Wi-Fi in the decade to come.

 

 


Wi-Fi Data Elements and CloudCheck

Ken Kerpez
ASSIA Ph.D., IEEE Fellow

Posted on July 8, 2019

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.


Wireless Broadband Alliance and Wireless Global Congress

David Stevenson
ASSIA CRO. BS in Physics and Electrical Engineering from the University of Sydney.

Posted on June 13, 2019

ASSIA CRO, David Stevenson, on far right of panel at the Wireless Broadband Alliance’s Atlanta Congress

Earlier this year ASSIA was invited to join the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) and to participate in the WBA Working Group sessions at the Wireless Global Congress on May 20 -23 in Atlanta. The WBA is a complimentary organization to the Wi-Fi Alliance:

  • The WBA specifies roaming between operators’ Wi-Fi networks (hotspots) and the use cases for operators to manage Wi-Fi services.
  • The Wi-Fi Alliance defines the 801.11 specifications which are the basis for how devices connect over Wi-Fi.

The Wireless Broadband Alliance has over 100 members—most of the world’s leading service providers—and has reached out to key vendors as they work to develop in-home Wi-Fi industry guidelines and test cases for the next generation Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), which is coming out in 2019. Of course, this also involves the coming together of LTE/5G and Wi-Fi/LAN technologies in which the WBA 5G Working Group is active. In addition, the WBA IoT Working Group is involved in the many use cases that involve the movement from fixed to mobile (in vehicle scenarios), vehicle to vehicle, and Wi-Fi sensing.

Panel: Future of In-Home Wi-Fi—From IoT to Next-generation In-home Wi-Fi Experience

The Wireless Broadband Alliance asked ASSIA to participate in the industry panel “Future of In-Home Wi-Fi— from IoT to next-generation in-home Wi-Fi experience” at the Wireless Global Conference Atlanta with representatives from AirTies and Cognitive. During the panel, I had the chance to share some of the work ASSIA has been doing that leverages our years of experience managing and optimizing broadband to the home. As the industry transitions to broadband to the device across a mix of technologies, and as Wi-Fi expands from a single access point in the home to multiple access points and mesh topologies, I focused on how ASSIA is:

  • Supporting multiple services in the home spanning voice, video, AR and IoT
  • Participating in the early rollout of Wi-Fi 6-capable access points
  • Building an intelligent cloud-based system that can take real-time action to ensure an excellent quality of experience for the end user

Wireless Broadband Alliance

The Wireless Broadband Alliance is certainly an interesting organization to be part of.  They are helping us understand and anticipate real world problems so we can build and test solutions that make a real difference to service providers including:

  • Helping to reduce operations costs by reducing the number of service call and field visits
  • Maximizing the return on investment by minimizing CapEx to only target the things that make a difference
  • Improving customer satisfaction, reducing churn, and encouraging purchase of additional services

I look forward to ongoing engagement and continuing to form partnerships to help push the industry forward.

If you are interested in learning more about the Wireless Broadband Alliance and their events:

 


Marconi Society 2019 Awards Dinner

David Stevenson
ASSIA CRO. BS in Physics and Electrical Engineering from the University of Sydney.

Posted on May 28, 2019

It was privilege to attend the Marconi Society Awards Dinner on May 17th which honored the 2019 Marconi Prize Winners Taher Elgamal and Paul Kocher for their development of SSL/TLS as well as other contributions to the security of communications. The event was well attended by many well-known people who have made huge contributions to the advancement of communications technologies.

Attendees included Vint Cerf who is known for the design of TCP/IP and is one of the “fathers of the internet”, James H. Clark who was a founder of several Silicon Valley companies including Netscape Communications Company where the 2019 prize winners developed the security to enable on-line purchases, Robert Lucky who led Telcordia Technologies’ building of the Automatic Adaptive Equalizer, and of course John Cioffi who founded ASSIA after his pioneering research that helped create Digital Subscriber Line circuits that bring broadband Internet access to hundreds of millions of people.

It was extraordinary to be in a room with so many of the people who built the modern communications technologies we use every day and to see them not only honoring their peers, but also encouraging the next generation of innovators from all over the world who are working on MIMO (Multiple-Input-Multiple-Output) transceiver architectures, networks to support IoT applications, and NOMA (Non-Orthogonal Multiple Access) technologies with the Paul Baran Young Scholars Awards.

The Marconi Society is a great organization and the Marconi Society Awards very worthwhile.


ASSIA Is Your EasyMesh Partner

ASSIA
Marketing Team

Posted on April 22, 2019

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

ASSIA
Marketing Team

Posted on March 25, 2019

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.


ASSIA Vision for Wi-Fi Virtualization

Ken Kerpez
ASSIA Ph.D., IEEE Fellow

Posted on March 14, 2019

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.