Defining the next Wi-Fi-Revolution

Since 2000, I refrain from using the word “revolution” because a “tech-revolution” is a morning routine where I live, in Silicon Valley. However, for Wi-Fi, the word “revolution” seems to be just right to describe the dual nature of the change this technology is experiencing. Over a series of blogs my colleagues and I will try to present ASSIA perspective on this revolution in detail.

Merriam-Webster lists two main definitions for the word revolution. One is about a rotation or completing of a course, the other is about sudden radical change. The type of revolution we are bound to experience in Wi-Fi in the next couple of years fits both definitions of the word “revolution”.

Completing and restarting another course of Wi-Fi technology cycle

Over 20 years ago Wi-Fi’s main promise was about providing connectivity to masses without the restrictions imposed by the carriers or the government.  Wi-Fi has since fulfilled this promise and became the de facto connectivity standard for connected devices.  Over the years, we have observed significant improvements in speed, and capabilities of Wi-Fi over multiple “courses” around the technology cycles.

Carriers have spent the last 10 years improving broadband performance and reliability.   Now a 100Mbps connection to the home is not uncommon.   But, that’s not satisfying if you are then limited by your WiFi connection.    The improvements in broadband have exposed weaknesses in WiFi.   WiFi related issues are the biggest driver of customer technical complaints.

Similarly, the number of WiFi devices in the home has exploded over the last 10 years.  Even if the data rates for each device only modestly increases, the number of new devices puts a much greater load on the home network. Widespread adoption of video services have made consumers much more aware of data drops.   Where lower data rates and higher error rates were acceptable for data applications, video applications are much less forgiving and inspire swifter consumer reaction.

The upcoming advances in Wi-Fi are being fueled by the actions of the government, the industry alliances, and the continuous improvement in the price/performance of Wi-Fi chipsets.  This includes a new unlicensed band at 6GHz, faster and better reach/coverage with different flavors of 802.11 (Example: 11ax/ad/ah/af..), and better interoperability across multiple access points. The net effect of this technology cycle/rotation is going to be observed as 10GBps connectivity between your laptop and your TV screen, 1GBps connection speed between your phone and your home network when you are out in your garden, uninterrupted video streaming where it is not possible today without wires.

Radical change in industry focus

While the rate of adoption of Wi-Fi has been fast, the quality of experience (QoE) has been poor and the management of the network has been labor intensive and costly.

The fundamental drawback of Wi-Fi has always been the lack of guarantee for any level of QoE.  This was interpreted as “carte blanche” for not incorporating QoE as a key input to the Wi-Fi network.

Over the last couple of years Carriers, CPE vendors, and chipset vendors finally accepted the need for self-management and end-user QoE driven decision making in Wi-Fi management systems. For carriers, the ever increasing cost of customer complaints and service calls was one of the key driving factors.  Also, recently the adoption of multi-path TCP and Wi-Fi-LTE bonding technologies by the handset manufacturers provided another path to guarantee certain level of QoE to end-user devices over Wi-Fi on unlicensed spectrum. 

ASSIA’s mission in the Wi-Fi-Revolution

For the average home Wi-Fi user, intelligence of network and technical advances are not comprehensible. The complexity of the issue reflects mainly on the OPEX of service providers and CPE vendors who must bear the cost of supporting the consumers.

Consumers mostly relate to fast and reliable connectivity as they just expect it to work.  The rest of the technical discussions regarding Wi-Fi is reserved for the enthusiasts and professionals. ASSIA believes proper management of connectivity is the only solution to a fast and reliable connection no matter what technology improvements become available in networks.

By proper management, we mean managing the performance issues as they relate to the end-user QoE and taking actions to improve the QoE.  ASSIA’s QoE based Wi-Fi management approach has been enabled by its patented technologies that utilize different forms of Artificial Intelligence to detect patterns of problems that affect the end-user QoE in a dynamic/ever changing network environment. After a long period of field testing and more recenty full deployments by service providers, many carriers chose ASSIA’s CloudCheck® Wi-Fi Management solution among a large set of alternatives mainly because of real world impact on OPEX costs and end-user QoE scores.

ASSIA’s mission is to deliver fast and reliable Wi-Fi connectivity to consumer and help service providers address OPEX and complexity associated with delivering reliable service in an ever-changing world of wireless connectivity.  We look forward to improving Wi-Fi Quality of Experience as the complexity of the technologies increase.