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

Report from global wireless ecosystem proposes interoperable reference architecture for managed Wi-Fi deployment, operation, remote management and diagnostics of home networks

Global wireless ecosystem consortium the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) has published a technical report outlining an operator-managed Wi-Fi (OMWi) reference architecture, proposing a framework combining multiple available standards to streamline Wi-Fi data collection, Wi-Fi management, configuration and optimisation of home networks.

The free paper, Operator-managed Wi-Fi: Reference architecture and requirements, fundamentally sets out to simplify the analysis and decision-making process for Wi-Fi deployment.

Its publication is set in the context of an environment where consumers expect reliable, high-performance Wi-Fi networks that enable their Wi-Fi devices to work at home with little to no setup required. The paper discusses the various deployment challenges this presents for those who need to balance the cost of management and deployment with growing consumer requirements.

The WBA notes that there are currently several operator-managed Wi-Fi offerings in the market, each utilising different proprietary or standard methods for data collection and communication between the customer-premises equipment and the cloud, remote management and mesh formation.

In addition, as each operator-managed Wi-Fi service tries to solve the same problems in a different way, this, said the WBA, yields non-interoperable and non-reusable services, resulting in considerable resources needed to navigate the different techniques and standards available when delivering on user expectations.

The report proposes solutions to these problems, and highlights the difficulties many operators still face when negotiating with suppliers to ensure compliance with their own standards and requirements. The main problem put forth by the paper is that a holistic service 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.

The WBA noted that its members – such as 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 clients and users.

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WBA has defined 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 offerings.

This technical industry framework for operators outlines 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.

“Wi-Fi and internet have become interchangeable terms in recent years,” said Tiago Rodrigues, CEO of the Wireless Broadband Alliance. “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,” he said. “There are countless operator-managed Wi-Fi solutions currently on the market, all using different proprietary or standard methods for data collection, remote management and mesh formation, 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.”

Metin Taskin, CEO and chief technology officer of Airties and WBA board member, said: “Thanks to the cross-industry efforts of the WBA, broadband operators around the world can now benefit from a standards-based, reference architecture for residential Wi-Fi. This operator-managed Wi-Fi report specifies the industry standards end-to-end to simplify integrations and deployments, enabling operators to focus more of their efforts on the quality of experience.”

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