A key trend in WiFi is to enable service providers or enterprises to manage their networks remotely, and proactively identify and even fix problems to improve quality of experience and reduce support bills. Remote View, from Turkish WiFi specialist AirTies, is an example of this kind of capability, and the company claims it is now being trialled by more than 50 operators across north America, Europe and Asia.
It has also extended its functionality, beyond just viewing what is going on in a multi-access point home network – which Remote View has done since May 2016 – to taking action to fix problems.
Remote View can monitor in-home WiFi performance from anywhere in the world, analyzing WiFi usage patterns and devices and how much bandwidth is flowing through each connection. As the world enters a multi-AP approach to improving home WiFi coverage and performance, operators are looking for the ability to manage a network of two or more APs per subscriber.
One of the most critical issues facing ISPs is the rise in calls to helpdesks about broadband performance, which often relate to temporary aberrations in WiFi behavior. Some estimates place this as high as 80% of all customer care calls, with billions of dollars wasted on sending engineers on ‘no fault foun’ truck rolls.
So Remote View was initially developed to peek into behavior in a WiFi network with multiple APs, and it relies on AirTies’ existing mesh architecture to share the data between the access points on speed of connections, spectrum band selections and choice of AP by each client, taking into account the speed capability of those devices, which 802.11 protocols they can use and their air-time consumption. It does this at the individual home level or data can be aggregated across numerous households. It is, in fact, the beginning of an entire analytics approach to WiFi performance.
What has been added now is a cloud-based Remote Manager, which can be used in a number of ways. It can allow consumers to self-manage their own WiFi usage patterns through an app, letting a helpdesk intervene remotely when WiFi appears to be down, both diagnosing the problem and fixing it; or it can feed policy tools, such as AI or machine learning systems. with data, so that these can proactively monitor and adjust the network in real time.
AirTies has had feedback from multiple Tier 1 ISPs, so it is likely that each of these strategies has been prioritized at different operators. The new cloud-based system was showcased for the first time at the SCTE Cable-Tec Expo in Denver last week and will also be at Broadband World Forum in Berlin this week.
Remote Manager sits with the AirTies’ Managed WiFi Solution, a cloud-based system which can give real time insights into both WiFi provisioning and actual performance. The system adds the ability to send remote commands to the home network, over secure APIs or feed network performance data to a suite of specialized applications for customer care, field teams, network operations, and consumers. The whole thing can be held in a cloud such as Amazon Web Services or a private enterprise cloud.
“With today’s super-connected homes, it is imperative that service providers have real time and historical insights about subscribers’ WiFi home performance, and the ability to act remotely – both proactively and reactively – to ensure a quality experience,” said Philippe Alcaras, CEO of AirTies Wireless Networks.
The system allows for device control and provisioning for the odd occasion when a customer cannot manage to self-install a router – it provides a secure transport path and APIs so that service providers can achieve remote control over subscribers’ home devices and extenders, gateways, or set-top boxes.
Service providers will be able to query or setup an AP and look into its wireless settings to enable or disable WiFi , setup parental controls, and provision guests. They can also integrate Remote Manager data to power their own support dashboards. Finally they can white label the AirTies app to grant consumers advanced WiFi controls, or use its data and SDK in their own app. Such apps can raise issues with the network in real time and have the consumer resolve the issue directly by accepting a suggested option from the app.
The market potential for systems like this is considerable. If you take the approximately 900m global broadband lines with close to 800m of them provided with at least one WiFi router, then simply upgrading home networks to each having two APs, creates overnight another 800m marketplace for APs, which would double to 1.6bn, each of which might require an instance of mesh or extender software, and lead to massive cloud based control mechanisms from every major operator, over the next 4-5 years.