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Chairman’s Vision: Transcending to the New Normal

As with many companies, ASSIA adjusts and progresses to the new normal that the global pandemic suddenly created earlier this year. ASSIA’s employees have transitioned to work-from-home, but ASSIA’s productivity has remained high; frankly, much higher than I expected. Many executives at other companies confirm this similar experience and surprise. When vaccines and/or cures are found, and it becomes feasible for all or any to return to the office, ASSIA and many other companies believe that employees will then still spend at least half their time working remotely. We transcend together to our collective new normal.

In this new normal, broadband connectivity becomes foundational to productivity. An enterprise’s survivability relies on uninterrupted interparty communication, wherever their locations. A poor connection is more than an annoyance. When multiplied across a teleconference, the productivity loss increases with the number of collaborating participants. When multiplied across a company, it is a significant loss of workhours. As such, it becomes crucial to ensure strong and stable connectivity to and from our workforce’s homes.

There is a relationship between connectivity and productivity that can be well learned with artificial intelligence. I call the learned productivity’s connectivity-related component “workput”; i.e., work throughput. By collecting Quality of Service and Quality of Experience data, ASSIA can learn and recognize a poor connection’s productivity-influencing indicators with workput. Predictions and consequent proactive adjustments and/or reactive interventions can then optimize an employee or their companies’ workput through correspondingly workput-optimized connectivity. In short, productivity consequently improves.

ASSIA’s new Equipe solution uses machine learning to measure workput and improve connectivity. Equipe software improves the work from home employee’s productivity and Equipe’s tool ecosystem helps IT administrators troubleshoot connections. Equipe also enables carriers to respond more rapidly and more effectively. As ASSIA Equipe servers learn a company’s workput-connectivity needs more accurately with time, Equipe continues to improve workput.

Work-from-home demonstrates to many globally the need for a reliable and fast internet connection. ASSIA’s Equipe will combine learned and updated knowledge to prioritize work-related flows and optimize effective and efficient fail-over to reduce current productivity loss. As such, Equipe will consequently enhance future reliable speeds for all home applications.

Today and tomorrow, ASSIA supports global partners who will help us all transcend our households to more business-enhancing network experiences. ASSIA’s solutions and expertise will continue to empower our partners and customers to the new broadband normal. All our work from home employees will then be able to improve their workput with ASSIA’s Equipe solution.

John Cioffi
Chairman & CEO, ASSIA, Inc.


It’s proven. We’re helping service providers keep people connected.

Broadband connection has taken center stage during Covid-19 as subscribers of all sorts rely on the internet for almost everything—from frequent video conferencing to distance learning. This pervasive and ongoing Wi-Fi use requires service providers to move even more quickly to address customers’ demands and needs.

Optimizing for excellent customer experience can come at a high cost unless service providers take a proactive approach to maintaining networks and detecting issues before they arise. And, further, giving consumers the ability to solve problems quickly on their own, without having to call an agent or request a visit. Doing this gives subscribers what they want, and also reduces the costs needed to serve them.

Troubleshooting across the network

As demand for high-bandwidth services increases, network operators and service providers are searching for the fastest, most reliable, and cost-effective broadband delivery. With this comes a complexity of network management issues to ensure that the customers get the bandwidth they are paying for and expecting.

ASSIA solutions are designed to manage the challenges of deploying and operating a multi-platform networks (DSL, GPON, cable) and to reduce complexity in their overall operations. When subscribers can’t resolve issues on their own, service providers risk high operating costs from lengthy support calls, unnecessary truck rolls, or replacing perfectly healthy hardware. And possibly all of this without resolving the root cause of the performance issues.

Optimization, though, is precisely what fixes many common problems. A combination of Expresse and CloudCheck gives service providers full network path visibility and diagnostics, from the exchange to Wi-Fi connected devices inside the home. And, they give providers the means to optimize and address issues before they occur.  When customers call service centers, agents are quickly able to troubleshoot where the problem exists, diagnose, and resolve them.

ASSIA Expresse environment

ROI that’s proven in the field

Recently, ASSIA has performed in-depth work with multiple customers to help them improve operations around the world. We studied detailed call data and technical measurements that our system collects to tune up our optimization and diagnostic algorithms.

Key metrics we measure include:

  • Call analysis: average handling time, first-time resolution of calls, truck rolls, and returns
  • QoS/QoE: service continuity, speed required, drop-outs, disconnections

We also do detailed analysis over a month or more to monitor any seasonal issues or other impacts on the service.

Our results with one customer showed:

  • 50,000 fewer service calls for Wi-Fi support in six weeks’ time.
  • Fewer truck rolls than would normally occur in a 60-day period.
  • Customer churn was reduced by 2% in 30 days.

Altogether, we were able to show our customers, with actual data, how our software and technology help them control costs and deliver a better experience to their customers.

Demonstrated revenue and cost savings per 1,000,000 lines with an ASSIA customer

Fixing issues IRL, but not in person

What has been a service provider’s greatest challenge can also be considered their greatest opportunity: resolving technical issues without an in-person visit. The CloudCheck mobile application helps call center agents, field technicians, and subscribers work together to solve problems and handle installation remotely.

Through this app, field technicians can use CloudCheck to optimize the Wi-Fi network environment. And, when a customer calls in, the agent can view the entire network to see whether the issue is inside a subscriber’s home or outside and fix the problem without requiring a field technician to make an in-person visit unless deemed necessary. Remote management provides access to functionalities from anywhere once user-authenticated, so users can manage their networks remotely and field techs can conclude work orders.

An end-user application offers subscribers real-time information about what’s going on with their Wi-Fi and assistance with self-installation and troubleshooting. Features include:

  • Self-installation capabilities, eliminating the need for an appointment or an in-person visit when people are sheltering in place;
  • Parental controls to manage who has access and when;
  • Where to put an extender to get better Wi-Fi coverage around the house;
  • Self-service assistance to troubleshoot password issues or reboot when something is stuck

Self-service and field technician apps

ASSIA also provides diagnostics and recommendations so users can improve service on their own. And, to improve the service down the line, subscribers can leave feedback through the app.

Unparalleled expertise you can trust

ASSIA is a strategic partner and trusted vendor to over 35 service providers worldwide with more than 125 million broadband and Wi-Fi lines under contract, in 17 countries, across 5 continents. ASSIA is a trusted name in the industry for a reason. Our products are built and maintained by experts and leverage our global experience to make internet connections run faster and more reliably by optimizing the performance of whatever infrastructure is in place—copper, fiber, various generations of Wi-Fi including Wi-Fi 6, or 5G. As a result, ASSIA has a deep understanding of the challenges services providers face—from network stability to cost controls to churn.


Testing Quality of Experience, Not Just Speed

What matters to internet subscribers is that things work when they need them to. Speed and reliability take center stage when the bandwidth they’re paying for is not what they’re getting. Imagine the frustration of not seeing or hearing participants in a sales call on Zoom, or not having them see or listen to you. When issues like this occur, providers should expect a flood of calls or possibly churn.

Quality of Experience (QoE) is more than raw speed measurement; it ensures that end-users get the internet experience they want on whatever device they use—upstream or downstream. Consumers care more about “just working” than any technical measurements. That’s why providers need to make sure there is enough bandwidth to support end-users and their services, with a little headroom or extra in reserve.

Making sure everything always works

Delivering a QoE that meets or exceeds industry standards can be complicated. ASSIA is working with regulators to define and implement better ways to measure QoE for every customer type. Here’s why that’s important.

Global telecommunications regulators are adopting stringent rules to ensure service providers deliver advertised/minimum speeds, with financial consequences such as allowing consumers to terminate contracts when commitments are not met. To increase and measure speeds, service providers must manage the loads on their networks, which means frequent testing—a challenge when the equipment to run the tests requires a lot of processing power. 

Service providers are on the front lines of customer complaints. They must diagnose lagging performance and get the issue resolved—quickly. Whether the choke point is the Wi-Fi inside the house or the broadband to the home, taking a proactive approach to monitoring, diagnosing, and fixing issues ensures better service and lowers costs. It’s not only the speed of the network to the house, but also performance inside the house and through the system. Test often, not now and then.

TruSpeed Provides Visibility and Transparency 

ASSIA TruSpeed is a CloudCheck® software module that enables service providers, communications regulators, and wholesalers to gain visibility to true broadband and Wi-Fi throughput across the entire network. TruSpeed uses cloud-based machine learning to intelligently monitor and measure broadband and Wi-Fi speeds while assessing bottlenecks across five key points. Other solutions that only measure broadband speeds (not Wi-Fi) can disrupt subscriber experience or are constrained by the limited number of measurements gathered across a subset of the network. 

TruSpeed throughput measurements

In a growing number of countries, regulatory agencies require service providers to directly or indirectly provide speed data to the public. Traditional approaches rely on crowdsourced data or expensive hardware or one-off testing. These methods lack accuracy and reliability because of a limited sample size across the network. With TruSpeed, all network lines are tested regularly (including during peak hours). All data collected can be aggregated for regulatory compliant reporting. Transparency of this data shows end users that they are getting the experience they are paying for and regulators that service is being delivered as advertised. 

ASSIA has a deep understanding of customer requirements and the expectations of service providers and regulators. We maintain the highest standards of measurement and are working on technologies to improve internet connectivity worldwide. To that end, we will be conducting a study to obtain a complete picture of how testing and how quality assurances can be enhanced end to end. We aim to provide consumers with the confidence that they are getting the service they need and deserve.


GPON Expresse®: A Software-Defined Solution for Delivering Next-Generation Broadband

Network operators are migrating from legacy copper networks to fiber-based passive optical networks (PONs) for many reasons. Fiber networks are more reliable and less vulnerable to weather conditions, which means lower costs. Also, the speed and strength of a fiber network provide an overall better experience for all types of customers.

As providers start to implement fiber, access networks become a mixture of multiple deployment models, which may include fiber-to-the-node (FTTN), fiber-to-the-distribution-point (FTTdp), fiber-to-the-basement (FTTB) and fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) architectures. Over time, access networks become increasingly challenging to manage. Providers need to remain competitive while keeping costs and resources under control.

GPON Expresse is a management software designed to address the challenges of deploying and operating a multi-platform FTTx network that any service provider can use to reduce complexity in their operations.

 

 

A Changing Industry Requires a Modern Solution

The multi-billion-dollar fiber optics industry is growing as service providers search for the fastest, most reliable, and cost-effective broadband delivery. Subscribers want more from their internet service providers (ISPs) and that will not change anytime soon. Demand for video, video conferencing, entertainment, and smart home/smart business services is only growing.

Traditional DSL providers have been rapidly shifting to fiber to meet customer demands for better bandwidth. Cable companies are combining fiber to upgrade their existing coaxial networks while telecom providers are upgrading their copper DSL networks. Emerging technologies such as 5G and CBRS are beginning to take hold, offering alternatives to those delivered by legacy providers that have failed to modernize.

With all these shifts come a complexity of network management issues to ensure that the customers get the bandwidth that they are paying for and expecting. GPON Expresse simplifies the complexity of managing the network with a unified, software-defined solution to monitor, diagnose, and address network issues. More visibility, less complexity.

The Importance of Meeting Customer Expectations

Providing premium high-speed services comes with increased customer expectations of performance and reliability, including support for in-home Wi-Fi networks.

To cost-effectively provide the level of service that premium customers demand, carriers are challenged to manage the network to the home and inside the home. Congestion, weak system configurations, or faulty lines, network performance issues can have multiple causes. In the past, solutions often required complex combinations of software and troubleshooting. Without a way to manage services remotely, providers incur higher operating costs such as extra service calls, truck dispatches, and unnecessary hardware replacement.

DSL service providers transitioning to optical are often lulled into a false sense of confidence that those networks “just work,” unlike their copper ones. Generally, this is true initially, but even optical networks age and technical problems start to arise.

Taking a proactive approach to technology management helps service providers establish trust with customers and a track record of reliability. ASSIA systems automatically detect issues that need repair, so the provider can send out field technicians—often well ahead of the time that customers notice and start calling. Having the tools to monitor, diagnose, and fix the inevitable problems before they occur is mission-critical.

It’s 2020. A good internet connection should not only be fast but reliable. Customers who pay for high-speed internet service expect nothing less, and they shouldn’t. Using GPON Expresse is taking a proactive approach to maintaining your access networks and detecting issues before they arise.

CloudCheck™: More Network Visibility, Lower Service Costs

CloudCheck™ product is a software-only solution to monitor, manage, and optimize home Wi-Fi networks for service providers and operators. When customers call service centers, agents can assess and troubleshoot whether the problem is inside a subscriber’s home network or outside. GPON Expresse, combined with CloudCheck™ software, provides full network path visibility and diagnostics, from the exchange to Wi-Fi connected devices, without the extra costs.

Wi-Fi issues can be diagnosed and resolved entirely remotely with CloudCheck™, helping service providers deliver a better experience. Operators also can access quality of experience (QoE) data to optimize network performance as needed or assess service. CloudCheck™ reduces costs for network operators and service providers and provides the visibility and control to ensure a world-class Wi-Fi subscriber experience.

Why ASSIA Internet Software Is Trusted Worldwide by ISPs

ASSIA is a trusted name in the industry for a reason as the company has been providing internet software for service providers since the first fiber-optic systems have been in place. ASSIA has a deep understanding of customer requirements and the purpose that ISPs are expected to serve.

GPON Expresse is only the latest offering of an extensive family of products and services that have been the industry’s backbone for more than 17 years. ASSIA is a strategic partner and trusted solutions vendor to over 35 service providers worldwide with over 125 million broadband and Wi-Fi lines under contract, in 17 countries, across five continents.

ASSIA can streamline your operations and help you deliver a more stable, hassle-free, and cost-effective internet service to your customers whatever infrastructure is in place. Contact us today to learn more.


Impact of MAC Randomization on Wi-Fi Management

MAC Randomization and CloudCheck: What ASSIA Customers Need to Know

Apple released a beta version of iOS 14 at WWDC 2020 in June, and with it, came a new feature intended to protect consumer privacy: changing the default state of the iOS device’s media access control (MAC) device address from static to dynamic. Google Android 10 also released a similar function in 2019, however, the default state is static. In both operating systems, the user has the ability to manually change the MAC address setting from dynamic to static.

What is a MAC address, and why hide it?

A MAC address is a unique identifier assigned to every device that connects to a network—smartphones, watches, tablets, computers. Because a MAC address is usually hard-coded into the device’s network card, the information is permanently there and accessible to third parties to collect data from network-enabled devices.

When users connect to public Wi-Fi in an airport, advertisers or stores can collect data on users’ locations, visits to stores, and engagement. With the release of Android 10 and iOS14, users can now mask their MAC addresses through a process called randomization.

What is MAC randomization, and what does it do?

Randomization creates a different, anonymized MAC address, instead of the real address, every time the same device connects to the internet. By hiding the exact address, users protect their privacy and prevent tracking when they connect to a network. MAC randomization has been present in most operating systems in some form over the last few years, but now the industry is moving to put tighter controls in place for consumer privacy and network security reasons.

What’s the impact on Wi-Fi management systems like CloudCheck?

Wi-Fi management systems, like CloudCheck, use MAC addresses as station identifiers. Station identifiers help CloudCheck know how many devices are on the network and optimize the Wi-Fi accordingly.

When subscribers connect to a Wi-Fi network and surf the internet, there will be no impact on CloudCheck’s capabilities without randomization. When randomization is enabled, some of the tracking features will not work as designed because the same device will use multiple MAC Addresses and appear as multiple devices in the system.

Impacted functions include:

  • Parental controls
  • Tracking daily Wi-Fi stats for a station – RSSI, throughput and data consumption
  • Station list in the user interface—some of the stations will appear twice or more
  • Optimization actions using historical network and operation data of a station
  • Blocking list of stations

Further random algorithms and impact will vary depending on the operating systems:
Android 10: As long as the user connects to an existing SSID, the MAC address would remain constant

  • iOS 14: Addresses change daily.
  • Android 10: Both options above are available for the user to select.

How is ASSIA addressing the impact of randomization?

ASSIA’s patent-pending device identification methods allow ASSIA to recognize the non-privacy-related devices for management and thus preserve the consumer’s good connectivity.

For more details, please contact your ASSIA representative or visit our contact us page.


Survive & Thrive in the Smart Home Revolution | Download Free Paper

Computers. Tablets. Voice assistants. Video players. Smartphones. TVs. Gaming consoles. Appliances. The average number of Wi-Fi connected devices in the home continues to grow, as does the demand this puts on internet service providers (ISPs).

Carriers are called upon to deliver fast reliable connections and help manage the performance of the growing number of devices on a network. Rapid changes taking place with work-from-home workforces have further complicated things for ISPs with an increased demand for steady high-bandwidth connections. Internet providers need a solution that makes it easy for customers and ISPs to identify, troubleshoot, and fix problems in the home Wi-Fi network.

Download our free whitepaper, “How to Survive & Thrive in the Smart Home Revolution”, to learn statistics about today’s connected home and how internet software solutions from ASSIA can help ISPs:

  • Increase revenue by offering higher-tiered services that range from bandwidth upgrades to priority settings; and
  • Decrease costs by taking control of the home Wi-Fi with hardware that connects back to the carrier and offers shared performance monitoring and updates.

Learn how your company can provide optimal performance and save money during the smart home revolution.

  • Please complete the form below to receive your download via email.

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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. Uses the TR-181 data model, also used by TR-069, with objects for managing Wi-Fi including Data Elements, multi-AP and single-AP 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. 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. Also defining common interfaces for managing Wi-Fi the Broadband Forum.
Data Elements Defines select parameters for monitoring and diagnostics of Wi-Fi, particularly for Multi-AP. Now being extended to cover new Multi-AP features, Wi-Fi 6, and remote configuration. The Wi-Fi Alliance, with hundreds of members, and defines certification of Wi-Fi devices for conformance and interoperability/
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 our complete Guide to Cloud-based Wi-Fi Management Standards and Open Source White Paper

A complete overview of the CPE Management Standards and open-source initiatives, and what they intend to accomplish:

  • From TR-069 to USP/TR-369
  • prplMesh
  • OpenSync

 

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


Participation in Standards Organizations

ASSIA
Marketing Team

Posted on June 29, 2020

We want our 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 we actively participate 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, mesh networks, cloud-management, DSL, PON (fiber), and G.fast, and future technologies such as G.mgfast and Wi-Fi 6E.

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

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


ASSIA Is Your EasyMesh Partner

ASSIA
Marketing Team

Posted on June 28, 2020

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 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, taking control and visibility away from the service providers making it hard to manage them or requiring them to lock themselves into a single mesh solution, which is far from ideal from customer acquisition and satisfaction standpoints. 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 allow Wi-Fi CERTIFIED EasyMesh™ devices to interoperate and be centrally controlled. EasyMesh R2 is now available with a richer set of features than the original version, and R3 will soon add even more features. About 75 devices are now Wi-Fi CERTIFIED EasyMesh™. So, should service providers 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 onboarding, 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 is 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 the 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 an 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 the controller

Set reporting policies for steering and metrics reporting

EasyMesh R2

EasyMesh R2, which is now finalized, contains four key categories of features; traffic separation, 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.

EasyMesh R3

EasyMesh R3 is still in development, and is to contain the following new features:

  • Services prioritization
  • Wi-Fi 6 capabilities reporting1905
  • Layer Security
  • Wi-Fi EasyConnectTM DPP onboarding
  • Multicast loop prevention

ASSIA CloudCheck and EasyMesh

The CloudCheck architecture and roadmap are well aligned with the EasyMesh specification. We are actively contributing to prplMesh with the prpl foundation to define a standard and interoperable network with all of our expertise in the field. CloudCheck currently has many proprietary algorithms and features for supporting multi-AP networks, and we are now working to implement EasyMesh and 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.

 


Wi-Fi Data Elements™ and CloudCheck

Ken Kerpez
ASSIA Ph.D., IEEE Fellow

Posted on June 19, 2020

For internet service providers taking responsibility for managing their subscriber’s home Wi-Fi, or wanting to, the Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Data Elements™ is a standard set of Wi-Fi diagnostics parameters. 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 and Ken Kerpez of ASSIA serves as Editor for this standard. 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 (USP) 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.

Data Elements™

R2Data Elements™ R2 specification is now progressing in the Wi-Fi Alliance. This will include Data Elements for Multi-AP R2 and R3 features, including inventory parameters, metrics and steering profiles, prioritization, traffic separation, DFS CAC, backhaul status, client capabilities, security capabilities, failed connection notification, and Wi-Fi 6 parameters.

Further, Data Elements R2 is now defining parameters for remote configuration. These are writeable and can be used to control and configure an EasyMesh controller.

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 (USP)

Data Elements is now the Device.WiFi.DataElements. object in the TR-181 2.13 Device.WiFi data model. TR-181 had already specified 250 parameters for Wi-Fi single-AP and Wi-Fi station management, including write objects for remote configuration that has been commonly used by TR-069. The TR-369/USP standard from the Broadband Forum, not only uses this updated TR-181 data model, but can also 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. Tim Spets, ASSIA, is USP project leader.

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 is also a member of prpl, and has been contributing to the prplMesh project.