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17 May 2022

Integration of EasyMesh into RDK home platform gets underway at last 

Analysts at Wireless Watch’s sister service, Faultline, have recently raised concerns that RDK Management – the open source smart home software group – is stalling on its pledge to include the WiFi Alliance’s EasyMesh standard in its framework.  

 

A year after EasyMesh was added to the RDK-B roadmap for the next generation of the connected home software platform, there were no signs of integration of the technology being in motion, even though tier 1 operators and WiFi technology vendors were indicating they were ready to embrace EasyMesh in upcoming router software stacks. 

 

However, the radio silence has now been ended by Turkish WiFi management specialist Airties, which has contributed its WiFi EasyMesh controller software module as a new component for use by the RDK community across broadband gateways. 

 

For Internet service providers, this means less time spent plugging away on laborious platform integration efforts across OEMs and chipsets – time that internal teams can instead channel into more proactive activities. In Airties’ case, it wants ISPs to spend more time developing value-added managed WiFi services for subscribers, for obvious reasons. 

 

 

The first is that most operators will eventually standardize on EasyMesh APIs anyway, so you might as well embrace it, as a translator for WiFi components and access points (APs) to create a common framework within a mesh WiFi architecture. 

In turn, this means shrinking demand for proprietary mesh architectures, like Airties’ own, and more room for controller-initiated steering, cloud-based channel management, and cloud-based diagnostics collection. 

 

As the attached graphic shows, money is to be made from the optional Airties Smart WiFi software located in the layer above its controller contribution, and a further layer above still for the optional Airties Cloud. 

 

Here, channel and band steering is handled using what Airties describes as a unique hybrid cloud-edge architecture – based on real-time network conditions, embedded intelligence in CPE, and Airties’ cloud management capabilities. The controller can support any certified WiFi EasyMesh device. 

 

Within the core functionality of the new RDK-B component, contributed by Airties, you will find support for onboarding WiFi EasyMesh agents on gateways and extenders; setting up in-home backhaul connections; propagating fronthaul configuration changes; and collecting statistics periodically. Furthermore, a pending enhancement will expose configurations and device state via the common RDK message bus (RBus). 

 

For vendors, they are now free to deploy their own products using this contributed WiFi EasyMesh controller – adopting RDK-B’s WiFi data elements and multi-AP data model for the EasyMesh controller. 

 

Looking further ahead, what is arguably more significant is the issue of fixed-mobile network convergence. Tier 1 European operators Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and BT have recently declared their support for an open source objective to provide a production grade 5G stack capable of integration with RDK-B and OpenWrt frameworks. OpenWrt is an open source project for embedded operating systems on wireless routers, based on Linux. 

 

With growing interest among operators in developing a common stack to facilitate consolidation of core and aggregation networks, this has led to the development of an open source standard called WWC Reference Implementation for 5G-RG (residential gateways), designed to allow fixed and mobile services to be consolidated over a common core. 

 

With Airties in the process of being acquired by private equity firm Providence Partners, we deliberated last week how the company’s future could hinge on appealing more to the mobile guys. Faultline is currently in the process of setting up a call with Airties leadership to extract extra details on the acquisition, RDK-B, emerging markets, and its possible mobile-influenced wardrobe change.