Big operators work with WBA on standards for in-home Wi-Fi

The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) is proposing a new operator-managed Wi-Fi reference architecture that would simplify and standardize operator-managed Wi-Fi.

The initiative is being led by WBA operator members British Telecom and Deutsche Telekom, along with vendor members Airties and MaxLinear.

But some big American Wi-Fi operators have also taken part in the process, including AT&T, Charter, Comcast and Cox along with other major vendors including CommScope, Cisco, Nokia and Intel.

“There was a strong representation from across the globe for this white paper,” stated a WBA spokesperson. “In fact, this project had one of the highest participant rates – clearly an important topic for operators, globally.” 

The proposed framework would combine multiple available standards to streamline Wi-Fi data collection, Wi-Fi management, configuration, and optimization of home networks.

WBA’s paper, Operator Managed Wi-Fi: Reference Architecture and Requirements, notes that several different operator-managed Wi-Fi solutions exist in the market today. And they each use different methods for data collection and communication between the customer premises equipment and the cloud. 

Some of the current standards in the market are the Wi-Fi Alliance’s Wi-Fi EasyMesh and Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Data Elements and the Broadband Forum’s User Services Platform Data Models TR-369 and TR-181.

“Each operator-managed Wi-Fi solution tries to solve the same problems in a different way, which yields non-interoperable and non-reusable solutions,” stated WBA. “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’s reference architecture suggestions cover both single wireless gateway and multi-access-point in-home Wi-Fi situations. The framework for operators defines how to deploy a managed residential Wi-Fi technology.

Tiago Rodrigues, CEO of WBA, stated: “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.”