Adoption of the newly developed multi-AP mesh standard to drive interoperability between players in hardware and software will continue to be a key theme in the WiFi industry through 2018 and beyond. A significant step was made towards the trend this week as US equipment powerhouse Arris announced support for the newly released multi-AP EasyMesh specification, which is based on technical specs from non-profit organization the WiFi Alliance.
This means Arris will submit products from its HomeAssure whole home WiFi portfolio for WiFi Certified EasyMesh certification. However, EasyMesh is considered to be a few years behind proprietary mesh architectures from the likes of AirTies and Comcast where technologies cannot interoperate.
That said, it’s easy to assume a mesh standard could disrupt such business models, but the introduction of a multi-AP standard would enable companies like AirTies to focus on smarter elements within WiFi, such as artificial intelligence and how and when packets are sent – because a mesh standard will not solve all of the WiFi industry’s problems single handedly. In previous conversations between Faultline Online Reporter and AirTies, the Turkish WiFi expert has spoken positively about an interoperable future, despite having initial reservations, and is planning to certify EasyMesh products in the near future.
Arris says its HomeAssure framework includes intelligent features such as self-organization software – to fine-tune the network for maximum performance under a variety of conditions. It also comes with a self-help app to provide consumers with info such as SSID and password management, therefore cutting down truck roll. There is also its Eco platform which sits in the cloud, using open standards for monitoring and management of analytics to help out with call center problems.
Consumers can add APs or network extenders from any EasyMesh compatible device manufacturer and the auto-configure feature means SSIDs and passwords are transferred automatically from the gateway to APs. HomeAssure supports WiFi, coax using MoCA 2.0 or G.hn, powerline using both Homeplug and G.hn and ethernet as options to connect APs to the gateway.
Launched officially last month, the EasyMesh specification works by coordinating a multi-AP environment into a unified network which is constantly being monitored and self-adapts. It guides devices to the optimal AP when moving around a home, using methods encompassing client steering, channel selection, backhaul optimization and multi-AP control messaging.
Arris’ move to EasyMesh comes a few weeks after WiFi management software supplier ASSIA added support for multi-AP devices and forthcoming WiFi Certified EasyMesh products to its CloudCheck software platform, much to the delight of the WiFi Alliance. ASSIA claims many deployments of WiFi extenders or multi-AP hardware without a WiFi management system often results in zero improvement – and even negatively impacts WiFi performance in some extreme cases.
Upcoming wireless and video events are likely to be littered with additional announcements of device support for EasyMesh. As well as Arris, ASSIA and AirTies, companies expressing interest in the EasyMesh standard include Liberty Global, Broadcom, CableLabs, Intel, Marvell, Mediatek, Qualcomm and Quantenna.
CTO of CPE Products at Arris, Charles Cheevers, said: “Arris’ contributions to multi-AP and commitment to WiFi Certified EasyMesh are enabling a new generation of devices to communicate seamlessly with one another through multiple access points in the home. HomeAssure with WiFi EasyMesh supports plug and play installation, intelligent WiFi optimization and WiFi management capabilities across Arris’ own APs as well as those from other vendors. The platform demonstrates Arris’ standards-based strategy for home networking, and ultimately creates more retail choices for consumers and greater vendor diversity for service providers.”