Tag Archives: Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Data Elements


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.