Wi-Fi Alliance Takes Aim at Whole-Home Networking

Looking to drive interoperability standards into whole-home setups that lean on multiple access points, the Wi-Fi Alliance has launched a new program called Wi-Fi Certified EasyMesh.

The new program, targeted to homes and small business environments that use mesh-style, multi-access point setups, is designed to enable service providers to create those networks using a wide range of interoperable devices from different suppliers/brands.

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The Wi-Fi Alliance is taking aim at interoperability standards as whole-home WiFi systems sold at retail and offered by service providers start to take significant hold in the market. However, much of that action has centered on one-supplier systems.

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Mesh WiFi systems are taking off as consumers adopt a growing number of smart home devices and video streaming devices and require solid connectivity to all corners of the home, Kevin Robinson, VP of marketing at the Wi-Fi Alliance, said, citing NPD data from 2017 showing that mesh networks already account for roughly 40% of the U.S. retail home WiFi market.

Though several whole-home WiFi products have emerged that support multiple access points and software and analysis systems that tie them together, the push with the EasyMesh program is to establish baseline, multi-vendor interoperable standards that can drive scale into this growing segment of the WiFi market while still giving individual vendors room to innovate, Robinson said

The focus of the EasyMesh program is to standardize protocols that direct the management of the network and help to guide clients, such as smartphones or streaming players, to access points and specific bands that provide the best experience at any given time.

Key components of the standardized program include both the network controller (with one device on the network, such as a gateway or an access point serving as that control point) that coordinates activity with agents, including satellite access points, that are connected to the network.

There are no EasyMesh-certified products available yet as certification testing has yet to start. However, a mix of product and chip suppliers, industry organizations and service providers voiced their support in today’s announcement, including AirTies, Arris, Assia, Broadcom, Marvell, MediaTek, Intel, Qualcomm Atheros, Quantenna, CableLabs, and Liberty Global.