WBA calls for action on Home Wi-Fi sprawl

14 Feb 2019

IDC predicts that by 2022 homes will have an average of 1.3 billion connected devices. Fixed network and cable network operators have long been capitalizing on this offering wired and wireless connectivity solutions for homes.

In more recent years operators have moved towards a multiple Wi-Fi Access Point (Multi-AP) strategy to tackle the home coverage problem, address congestion, and provide optimal service uniformly around the house.

The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) says there is a need to provide a uniform approach towards home connectivity as in-home Wi-Fi networks evolve.

“The in-home Wi-Fi experience has always been dictated by conditions that are specific to each home, which creates a chaotic puzzle for operators,” said Tiago Rodrigues, general manager of the WBA. He adds that the advent of the Smart Home and the explosion of streaming and IoT services is dramatically increasing demands on in-home Wi-Fi networks, further complicating matters.

“Current standards have come a long way to tackle the issues of interference, congestion, coverage and performance. But with increasingly variable network conditions on the horizon, innovation in smart Wi-Fi network optimization will be crucial to guarantee quality of service for customers,” he concluded.

The new WBA whitepaper, In-Home Wi-Fi Industry Guidelines 2019, tackles the challenges that have contributed to inconsistent performance in the home, including a lack of uniform coverage and visibility into the in-home Wi-Fi experience. The paper provides an industry go-to reference when preparing for Smart Home deployments.

“Challenges exist in the end-to-end delivery and management of Wi-Fi service in the home even with faster internet service and the latest Wi-Fi standards,” said John Bahr, principal architect at CableLabs.

The white paper provides an assessment of the current ecosystem to identify service requirements of operators, along with approaches to address key technical and deployment challenges.

The WBA is calling for vendors to join forces with the operator community to comply with its proposed common guidelines. Included within these are recommendations to address the in-home challenges of coordination of radio resource management, device onboarding and management, as well as deployment and end-to-end security. Based on this consensus from its members, the WBA also suggests the development of a set of performance test cases for industry-wide use.

The WBA has established future lines of work that will evolve the in-home Wi-Fi network, and become critical to realizing the vision of the Smart Home. Its 2025 Smart Home program proposes an aggregate approach which includes performance testing use cases for in-home networks to guarantee equipment deployed in the home can offer the best quality experience; real operating environment trials of Multi-AP / mesh networks based on standard test plan; IoT support to guarantee that quality of service is unaffected by scaling up in in-home networks; and the ability of the in-home network to enable Wi-Fi and 5G services to be interoperable within the home environment.

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