Mixed Signal/Analog

WBA releases standardised technical framework for operator-managed Wi-Fi

26th May 2023
Kristian McCann

The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) has announced the publication of a technical report outlining a new operator-managed Wi-Fi reference architecture. 

The proposed framework will combine multiple available standards to streamline Wi-Fi data collection, Wi-Fi management, configuration, and optimisation of home networks, simplifying the analysis and decision-making process for carriers.

Consumers expect reliable, high-performance Wi-Fi networks that enable their Wi-Fi devices to work at home with little to no set-up required. The paper discusses the various deployment challenges this presents for operators, who need to balance the cost of management and deployment with growing consumer requirements.

Currently, there exist several different operator-managed Wi-Fi solutions in the market, each utilising different proprietary or standard methods for data collection, communication between the Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) and the cloud, remote management, mesh formation, etc. Furthermore, each operator-managed Wi-Fi solution tries to solve the same problems in a different way, which yields non-interoperable and non-reusable solutions.

This results in considerable resources operators currently need to employ in order to navigate through the different techniques and standards available when delivering on end-user expectations. It also highlights the difficulties many operators still face when negotiating with vendors to ensure compliance with their own standards and requirements. The main problem put forth by the paper is that a holistic solution for an operator-managed Wi-Fi network, which incorporates the necessary standards into a reference architecture for the operators to use in their deployments, still does not exist.

WBA members led by Airties, BT, Deutsche Telekom and MaxLinear are seeking to simplify this analysis and selection process, leading to better resource optimisation, while also allowing them to make more accurate claims when communicating their value proposition with end clients and users.

This paper represents the first phase of that journey, presenting an operator-managed Wi-Fi reference architecture that combines the benefits of all available standards, including Wi-Fi Alliance, Wi-Fi EasyMesh, Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Data Elements, and Broadband Forum, User Services Platform, Data Models TR-369 and TR-181. Wi-Fi Alliance EasyMesh, for instance, can be utilised as the standard interface for Wi-Fi data collection, Wi-Fi management, configuration, and optimisation on home networks with a standalone gateway.

WBA defines the building blocks for a reference in-home Wi-Fi network architecture that will cover both single wireless gateway and multi-AP in-home Wi-Fi solutions. This technical industry framework for operators defines how to implement and deploy a managed residential Wi-Fi technology, along with highlighting the reference architecture and explaining its advantages. This first stage will be enhanced downstream with an expansion of the scope of requirements.

Tiago Rodrigues, CEO of the Wireless Broadband Alliance, said: “Wi-Fi and Internet have become interchangeable terms in recent years. A user’s perceived quality of experience is therefore tied to the performance of their in-home Wi-Fi network. This is putting pressure on operators to better manage their residential Wi-Fi services. There are countless operator-managed Wi-Fi solutions currently on the market, all using different proprietary or standard methods for data collection, remote management, mesh formation, etc., making it extremely difficult for operators to provide a consistent level of service for their users. WBA and its members are seeking to change that with a new reference architecture that combines the best standards into one, holistic, cost-effective solution.”

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