WBA Releases Framework for Operator-managed Wi-Fi In-home Networks

The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) has published a report outlining operator-managed Wi-Fi (OMWi) reference architecture. The proposed framework combines multiple standards to streamline Wi-Fi data collection, Wi-Fi management, configuration and optimization of home networks, simplifying the analysis and decision-making process.

The paper, Operator Managed Wi-Fi: Reference Architecture and Requirements, is available as a free public download here.

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 deployment challenges this presents for operators, who need to balance the cost of management and deployment with growing consumer requirements.

Several different operator-managed Wi-Fi solutions are available in the market, each using 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 need to employ to navigate through the different techniques and standards available when delivering on end-user expectations. It also highlights the difficulties many operators face when negotiating with vendors to ensure compliance with their own standards and requirements.

The main problem identified in 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, does not exist.

WBA members led by Airties, British Telecom (BT), Deutsche Telekom and MaxLinear seek to simplify this analysis and selection process, leading to better resource optimization, while allowing them to make more accurate claims when communicating their value proposition with end clients and users.

The 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 (WFA) Wi-Fi EasyMeshT, Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Data ElementsT, and Broadband Forum (BBF) User Services Platform (USP) Data Models TR-369 and TR-181.

Wi-Fi Alliance EasyMeshT, for instance, can be used as the standard interface for Wi-Fi data collection, Wi-Fi management, configuration, and optimization on home networks with a standalone gateway.

WBA defines the building blocks for a reference in-home Wi-Fi network architecture that will cover single wireless gateway and multi-AP in-home Wi-Fi solutions. This technical industry framework for operators defines how to implement and deploy 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.