Five new reasons to turn to EasyMesh™ certified products.
Last year the first release of the EasyMesh™ standard opened a new era for both consumers and Network Service Providers. By providing a standard-based approach to Wi-Fi networks, consumers were given both freedom of choice and easy setup of multiple access points and extenders from different manufacturers to create their whole home Wi-Fi coverage. In addition, EasyMesh provides effective load balancing that guides devices to roam to the best connection and avoid interference.
In addition to bringing the world’s first EasyMesh home gateway to market, Technicolor has open sourced its EasyMesh agent to the OpenWRT community. This has created a foundation for turning the gateway into an open services platform, making it easier and more cost-effective to offer value-added services to customers. Today, a second EasyMesh release (R2) allows for even better mesh Wi-Fi systems. Since the availability of its specifications early this year, Technicolor has been active in developing and testing its products with its technology partners with a focus on official EasyMesh certification for this new release.
So, what’s new with EasyMesh R2? Should you wait for new R2 gateways before adopting EasyMesh? What about the current R1 products and how do they behave with R2 devices? What are the consequences for Network Service Providers (NSPs) and end-users?
Many improvements have been brought to this new EasyMesh release, one of the most important being to Wi-Fi diagnostics. Currently each vendor has developed proprietary diagnostics solutions on top of EasyMesh R1, but R2 now makes this a standard. This important change will allow for an improved quality of service when using devices from different vendors, as they will all use the same protocol to aggregate and transmit information about their Wi-Fi environment. For NSPs, this means they won’t have to pay for extra development costs on their home gateways in order to be compatible with different vendors’ solutions. They will be free to onboard any of them as EasyMesh R2 will create a true diagnostics interoperability by enabling the delivery of network analytics and key performance indicators, improving device management for service providers.
The second improvement that this release will bring is the coordinated Channel Availability Check (CAC). In the 5Ghz band, Wi-Fi shares some frequency channels with other equipment such as nearby radar stations (e.g., weather stations). These radars operating in the same frequency range as Wi-Fi must be protected by the Dynamic Frequency Selection (DFS) mechanism , which forces Wi-Fi devices to listen to a channel before switching to it, to make sure it is not used by radar. This listening is called the CAC.
Once the Access Point operates on this DFS channel, it must continuously monitor for the presence of radar signals on that channel and, if detected, the AP must switch to another channel. With this new release, the EasyMesh controller in the home will coordinate all Access point to scan the DFS and weather bands at regular intervals – in order to have a good view of which channels to avoid during a new DFS event. In case a DFS event occurs, the controller will force all devices with backhaul functionality to a new channel that was not on the avoided list during the coordinated CAC.
Another improvement involves traffic separation, especially for guest accounts. Today, when people want to offer Wi-Fi access to their guests, they need to give access to their global home network. Even if they can do so temporarily, this still gives access to all devices connected to the network, such as a printer, audio or home automation devices. With traffic separation as a standard feature, EasyMesh R2 enables a secure split on the backhaul interface between the home gateway and the extenders; based on VLAN technology, it can separate, for example, guest traffic from home traffic.
EasyMesh R2 better manages spectrum and network resources, balances network load, increases mobility, and provides the best possible user experience. AP devices will be able to dynamically monitor the home network to provide continuous status about their wireless environment (through better metrics such as noise on the network, airtime for transmission, and airtime for reception). They will be able to roam clients to another AP, frequency band or channel in a quick and seamless way.
There is good news for those trying to decide between R1 or waiting for R2: backwards compatibility. EasyMesh R2 is backwards compatible with R1, so if you have an EasyMesh R2 gateway it will work with EasyMesh R1 extenders and APs. Of course, these products won’t allow for R2 features, but there is more good news: R1 software can be upgraded to R2 – so the whole home network can benefit step-by-step from the latest improvements.
EasyMesh R2 certified products are expected in the second half of 2020, but there is no reason to wait. You can propose EasyMesh R1 to your customers now and start reducing your Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). It will greatly improve their experience by solving a lot of current issues and reducing the number of calls to your helpdesk now – with the ability to upgrade them to R2 later.