A Common Goal
An optimized Wi-Fi network is one ubiquitous desire of every Internet service subscriber around the globe. The goal of each subscriber – and their service provider – is to enable an optimized home Wi-Fi environment which is (to use the definition of Optimization from Webster’s Dictionary) as “fully perfect, functional and efficient as possible.”
Wi-Fi is essential to communication, yet remains difficult for subscribers to understand – let alone to manage. In a recent deployment of ASSIA’s CloudCheck® Wi-Fi management solution by a global operator, it was discovered that over 40% of subscribers with dual band gateways had never once utilized the 5GHz band. The operator, which was dealing with large volumes of customer support calls related to home Wi-Fi, was shocked to discover that 4 out of 10 subscribers – who likely could have benefited from the increased throughput offered by the 5Ghz band – were unaware they had an alternative to the slower 2.4GHz band.
In addition to the fact that Wi-Fi band, channel and other settings remain elusive to most Wi-Fi users, there is also the reality that Wi-Fi environments undergo a great deal of change over the course of a few minutes or hours. Factors which impact Wi-Fi performance such as interference and noise are often fluid. ASSIA has found that a home Wi-Fi network requires multiple changes per day to properly react to the influences which impact the network. This need for change and complexity increases as the number of Wi-Fi devices in the home grows.
Addressing Complexity with VICTOR
Visibility. The first step to optimizing anything is visibility. Whether one is a plumber in one’s kitchen, a mechanic under the hood of a car, or a general facing a battlefield… each person’s first step would be to gain visibility to the situation. Where is the leak? What is broken? Where is the enemy approaching?
In the case of Wi-Fi, it is essential to receive as much information on the environment as possible. ASSIA’s CloudCheck places an agent in home user gateways which pulls extensive diagnostics from the Wi-Fi driver to gain visibility. The agent sends that information to ASSIA’s Cloud – providing CloudCheck with real-time data into a given home’s Wi-Fi environment.
Insight is achieved when information is evaluated. For example, CloudCheck compares a Wi-Fi network’s current (real-time) information against collected historical data. The ASSIA cloud collects and stores information and creates a histogram for devices. Insight is gained, and recommendations are created by the CloudCheck system.
These recommendations can be seen by the operator and subscriber alike. Examples include:
Change Channel, Switch Band, Enable Optimization, Update Aging Gateway, or Reboot Router.
It is worth noting that the cloud has limitless storage and can maintain extensive amounts of historical data. The comparison of real-time and historical data offers deeper insights than might be achieved by a heuristic on-gateway optimization.
Control is the act of “directing influence” over someone or something. In the case of plumbing, control could involve a new gasket, Teflon tape or simple tightening of a fitting. In the case of Wi-Fi, CloudCheck can automate the execution of a given recommendation. CloudCheck can tell the gateway to change the channel, switch a band, reboot the Wi-Fi Driver etc. CloudCheck can take corrective action to improve stability, increase throughput, decrease latency, account for noise – in very-near real-time.
Many may think of control as a reactive response to insight gained from visibility.
Tuning. As corrective actions are taken in a given system, the CloudCheck solution gains even greater insight. Machine learning algorithms achieve deeper understanding of a given environment – and to the performance of nodes accessing that environment. Over the course of days and weeks, the system becomes more intelligent and enable more proactive management approaches.
Optimization is achieved when a system is capable of reacting to influences in real time, but also to pro-actively adjust settings or alter parameters in order to achieve that “most fully perfect” Wi-Fi environment.
Resilience. CloudCheck optimization allows a Wi-Fi system to proactively adapt and change to maintain efficiency. Service providers can leverage the information in a single optimized environment with the knowledge gained across thousands of such networks in order improve resilience across their entire network, and to maximize the quality of experience (QoE) of all its subscribers.
With CloudCheck, service providers are able to validate performance and changes by measuring, monitoring and scoring QoE across an entire network.
Each element of this approach is dependent on other elements. The foundation, of course is visibility. Insight then allows for effective control. Tuning enables the proactive optimization of an environment. Optimization allows for automated remediation of issues and proactive adjustments.
VICTOR and Mesh
This VICTOR approach applies to all deployment types. The more complex the environment, the more beneficial this approach becomes. Let’s look at Mesh Wi-Fi Environments as an example:
Visibility – For mesh network management, visibility of all devices and the access points to which they are connected is essential because the topology is more complex than that of non-mesh environments. This visibility of high value to customer care agents who are addressing subscriber issues over the phone.
Insight – CloudCheck analyzes Wi-Fi Gateway environments and provides recommendations to operators on which subscribers could benefit from Mesh. In addition, for subscribers who CloudCheck deems as strong candidates for Mesh, the subscriber can be provided with detail on placement and onboarding assistance.
Control – The CloudCheck Agent/Cloud (Layered Cloud) architecture allows operators to leverage the power of the cloud with real-time performance in order to initiate complex mesh-related changes to items such as topology management, steering and roaming across mesh nodes.
Tuning – Historical analysis and predictive recommendations using long term data and device usage patterns in the cloud allow operators to apply learned behaviors to tune mesh networks, set thresholds and establish parameters. While this is important in a non-mesh (gateway only) network, this is vastly more complex in a mesh environment. A mesh network with six nodes would have 41,000 possible topologies from which to choose an optimal topology.
Optimization – CloudCheck is hardware agnostic and allows optimization across multi-vendor networks, which is essential in creating a consistent user experience. As mesh environments and standards evolve, the adoption of multi-vendor approaches will increase. This underscores the importance of optimization across multi-vendor deployments.
Resilience – The more complex an environment, the greater the need for resilience. Achieving resilience in a densely congested multi dwelling unit (MDU) or a multi-node mesh environment may require more aggressive steering optimization policies than a rural deployment or single gateway environment.
Service providers can leverage VICTOR which is applicable to all subscriber networks including mesh. This approach enables service providers to assist their subscribers in achieving the most “fully perfect, functional and efficient” Wi-Fi network possible.