The Battle for the Home Wi-Fi Middleware March 19 2019
With the proliferation of devices, the home is rapidly becoming a dense environment requiring a new level of Wi-Fi performance and coverage. Service providers are now increasingly taking ownership of the home Wi-Fi experience.
But managing home Wi-Fi is more complex than it appears from an outside perspective. In fact, it involves many aspects, and the corresponding technology solutions in supply reflect this complexity. There is no one single approach to solve coverage and performance problems that would fit them all. Consequently, service providers are opting for various approaches to resolving front haul and backhaul issues.
Innovation for a more robust connected home Wi-Fi and IoT is ongoing at a furious pace. There are a number of ongoing initiatives to create a more agile CPE, one with an open-source, agnostic, middleware between the cloud and the home devices. The promise is for service providers to be able to develop, install, manipulate, and administer applications residing in the CPE stack.
In light of so much increased complexity in the CPE and fast-changing market requirements, many solution vendors have decided to pool parts of their source code. The benefits of making code available to others include faster development time, faster time to market and more cost-effective implementation.
This is the case with the release 1 features of Easy Mesh which vendors have the option to either develop themselves or, use the collaborative work or the prpl Foundation. The “secret sauce” will remain mostly in the ability of the platform to collect dynamically, huge volumes of in-home user and device statistics.
Product differentiation allows vendors to innovate algorithms to optimize performance. Capability reporting and link metric collection is relatively straightforward and “by the book.” Says David Barr from Intel who is also active with the prpl Foundation.
However, how all that information is processed into intelligent decisions is where the innovation lies. For example, one vendor could use artificial intelligence in a local controller to understand and optimize the real-time needs of the mesh configuration. Another vendor could perform such processing in the cloud for a broader perspective.
A service provider deployed in a dense MDU apartment building could jointly-optimize channel-selection amongst all their MDUs to minimize aggregate interference and congestion. One controller might do predictive roaming, while another might be more reactive.
The prplMesh open-source implementation of EasyMesh protocols provides the tools and “knobs.” . There really is no limit to the innovation that could be employed for product differentiation in the controller” Barr added.
For operators, adaptive Wi-Fi is the first step towards converting the connected home into a smart-home by delivering a modern service delivery platform that is cloud-based, highly scalable, cognitive and leverages massive machine learning.
Service providers will then be able to create new applications and services sufficiently well and fast to outpace the OTTs. Emerging home services will range from elderly care to home automation and gaming.
Standardization, open-source, and virtualization are rapidly shaking the world of home Wi-Fi and beyond.