TIP Launches the OpenWifi Forum to Strengthen Standards based Wi-Fi Technology Solutions

TIP Launches the OpenWifi Forum to Strengthen Standards based Wi-Fi Technology Solutions

The Telecom Infra Project (TIP) is pleased to announce the launch of OpenWiFi Release 1.0, a community-developed, fully disaggregated Wi-Fi system, including Access Point (AP) hardware, an open-source AP network operating system (NOS), and an SDK to build Cloud-native Wi-Fi Controller software for Service Providers and Enterprises. On the heels of this announcement, our community of Service Providers and industry organizations across the world is kicking off lab and field trials of Wi-Fi connectivity solutions based on TIP OpenWiFi.

TIP OpenWiFi is a collaborative approach to build a disaggregated Wi-Fi software system, that will help the industry to accelerate the delivery of more innovative and efficient solutions for Carrier and Enterprise-grade Wi-Fi, through three key benefits:

  • Lower barriers to entry to develop Enterprise-grade Wi-Fi solutions.
  • Accelerated innovation, enabling easier adaptation to specific use cases.
  • More choice and better economics for Enterprises and Service Providers.

There is already a strong demand signal for OpenWiFi, with both Wi-Fi and Cellular Service Providers moving to test the platform for their specific use cases, and with industry organizations preparing to collaborate in trials.

A large and growing ecosystem of hardware and software suppliers is already building products based on OpenWiFi. 14 Access Point designs are already available for indoor and outdoor use cases, and the number will grow up to 30 during 2021. At the same time, various software providers within the TIP community are building innovative solutions based on TIP’s OpenWiFi. Products compliant with the OpenWiFi tech stack and APIs will be identified with the OpenWiFi logo.

OpenWiFi is managed within TIP’s Open Converged Wireless (OCW) project group, which enables industry collaboration to build, test, and validate products that deliver the requirements of valuable Service Providers’ use cases. The OpenWiFi community currently includes more than 100 participants, including Services Providers, OEMs, ODMs, Software ISVs, System Integrators, Silicon Vendors & Industry Organizations.

There are multiple ways to contribute to the progress of OpenWiFi:

  • Download the open-source software, try it out and contribute to its development.
  • Engage with commercial vendors building solutions based on OpenWiFi.
  • Actively participate in the community and contribute to the progress of the project.

Wi-Fi is now an essential technology for all connectivity stakeholders:

  • Wi-Fi is a proven and scaled technology with over 16 Billion devices in use. With the allocation in 6 GHz for unlicensed use, including a massive 1,200 MHz, in the US by the FCC, Wi-Fi is poised for further dramatic growth.
  • Wi-Fi usage is growing dramatically, it continues to carry a majority of the wireless internet traffic and is a strong driver of economic growth. The Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) is projecting nearly $5 Trillion in annual economic benefits globally from Wi-Fi by 2025.
  • Wi-Fi and cellular are complementary, and can work together to deliver ubiquitous connectivity: TIP is enabling industry collaboration to drive infrastructure solutions that transform global connectivity, and Wi-Fi is a key technology to make this vision possible. As the mainstream unlicensed counterpart to 5G, Wi-Fi 6 offers Service Providers a great set of tools to deliver high density, high bandwidth always-on connectivity.

More favorable economics and a wider choice can help Wi-Fi contribute to solving some critical connectivity challenges. Over the last decade, the Enterprise Wi-Fi market has rapidly grown to address a wide range of use cases in offices, retail spaces, public venues, outdoor facilities, and municipalities. Service Providers can benefit from additional choices and better economics in Wi-Fi infrastructure solutions, that could open the door to the next era of growth for the industry.

TIP OpenWiFi makes this possible through a collaborative approach, where Enterprises, Service Providers, and Technology Suppliers work together to break the barriers and innovate to address advanced Wi-Fi use cases

OpenWiFi is a natural next step, building on the momentum created by TIP’s OpenRAN and OOPT initiatives. OpenWiFi’s cost-effective communication infrastructure options will help Service Providers close the business case for ubiquitous connectivity, using both 5G and Wi-Fi,” said Attilio Zani, Executive Director, TIP.

“Wi-Fi is delivering high-quality connectivity that the world so desperately needs, and provides critical telecom infrastructure necessary for daily activities, telework, and other important services in rural and underserved areas,” said Susan Silveira, Director of Business Development at Wi-Fi Alliance. “The vision of Wi-Fi Alliance to connect everyone and everything everywhere complements the mission of the Telecom Infra Project (TIP), and Wi-Fi Alliance is proud to deliver foundational technologies and programs to ensure Wi-Fi provides an interoperable and secure experience so that initiatives like TIP OpenWiFi can continue to innovate for years to come.”

OpenWiFi within TIP

TIP’s Open Converged Wireless project group

OpenWiFi design, development, and validation are managed within TIP’s Open Converged Wireless (OCW) project group. As in other project groups, the OCW project group enables industry collaboration to build, test, and validate products that deliver the requirements of valuable Service Providers’ use cases. This is beneficial for both Service Providers and Technology Suppliers:

  • Service Providers save time, engineering resources, and cash when they can deploy products that have been validated against the technical requirements of their Wi-Fi use cases, that they contribute to the project group
  • OpenWiFi technology suppliers benefit from a focus on delivering solutions to Service Providers’ actual requirements, responding to commercial needs, In addition, they also get a neutral validation of their compliance with these requirements, including their adherence to TIP OpenWiFi and their ability to operate in a multi-vendor ecosystem.

What is OpenWiFi

OpenWiFi is a disaggregated Wi-Fi software system, offered as free open-source software, that includes both a cloud controller SDK and an Enterprise-grade Access Point (AP) firmware, designed and validated to work seamlessly together.

The OpenWiFi platform enables the ecosystem to more quickly and efficiently develop and commercialize connectivity solutions for advanced Enterprise and Service Provider use cases. In the OpenWiFi model:

  • Multiple ODMs build a diversity of OpenWiFi-compatible Whitebox Access Points, addressing different potential use cases. These devices incorporate OpenWiFi’s firmware that integrates seamlessly with the OpenWiFi cloud controllers.
  • Multiple Wi-Fi OEMs build and commercialize solutions using the OpenWiFi stack, running on top of Whitebox Access Points. The open APIs of the OpenWiFi cloud controller make it possible for OEMs to add value-added services (e.g. WLANaaS, Security, UX, etc.) to these commercial solutions
  • Enterprises and Service Providers adopt these competitive Wi-Fi solutions to efficiently target critical use cases, like Wireless Internet, HotSpot, Roaming/Offload, etc.

OpenWiFi’s unique capabilities include:

I. Community-Driven Development

All aspects of TIP’s OpenWiFi project are community-driven, with customer needs as the primary input for what gets built. The TIP OpenWiFi community empowers all stakeholders to participate and contribute. Everyone can see everything, including source code and nightly test results. This open collaboration model enables rapid development and release of customer-defined features, with no need to wait months/years for new releases from traditional vendors.

II. Fully Disaggregated Open Tech Stack, with an advanced feature set

The OpenWiFi software tech stack incorporates advanced Enterprise and Carrier-grade features, including open, standardized APIs and data models (AP & Controller); scalable mobility & Wi-Fi meshing; extensible Radio Resource Management (RRM); Passpoint (802.11u) and OpenRoaming; configuration, telemetry & analytics, and much more.

“The decision for TIP OpenWiFi to be based on and extend OpenWRT was a great move by the TIP community. The combination of the OpenWiFi cloud with an OpenWRT firmware is win-win for open-source, operators and the Enterprise,” said Peter Steinhäuser, CEO, EmbeDD GmbH.

III. Commercial-Grade Automated Testing

The TIP OpenWiFi project has applied the best practices of web-scale software development and the Wi-Fi OEM industry to deliver commercial-grade quality. E.g. CI/CD software builds for all hardware platforms; DevOps managed release engineering; and community-developed automated testing.

IV. A Signal of Product Compliance: The OpenWiFi Logo

The OpenWiFi logo is TIP’s way of signaling that vendor products are compliant with the OpenWiFi tech stack and APIs, in several different ways:

  • OpenWiFi-based Access Point hardware passing community-defined software capability testing.
  • OpenWiFi-based software products properly using the OpenWiFi cloud controller SDK northbound API.
  • Multi-vendor OpenWiFi networks interoperating as expected (meshing, RRM, etc.).
  • Any OpenWiFi-compliant cloud solution interworking with and managing any OpenWiFi compliant Access Point.

V. Globally Secure Zero Touch Provisioning

OpenWiFi includes Zero Touch Provisioning (ZTP) based on Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) over the public internet, a key requirement for securely deploying disaggregated network systems.

“OpenWiFi’s plug-and-play architecture creates new opportunities for advanced Wi-Fi functionality with a decrease in overall network costs,” said Dr. Derek Peterson, CTO of Boingo Wireless. “At Boingo, we are long-time advocates of a converged wireless strategy, unified standards, and industry collaboration. We’re looking forward to leveraging the TIP OpenWiFi platform to deploy next-generation networks including 5G opportunities that power innovation at airports, stadiums, universities, hospitals, and more.”

Click here to learn more about TIP's OpenWifi.

Publisher: everything RF