CTS 122: EasyMesh – Interoperability Between Vendors

Wi-Fi Alliance EasyMesh certification is meant to bring interoperability between vendors for mesh networking.

Wi-Fi Alliance EasyMesh

Mesh networking helps bring coverage in homes where one access point can’t quite do it. The Wi-Fi Alliance EasyMesh enables interoperability across access points from different vendors.

The term given to an access point is Multi-AP.

The Multi-AP has two logical entities:

  • One Multi-AP controller
  • One or ore Multi-AP agents

The Multi-AP agents report measurements and capability data to the Multi-AP controller. A controller interface is defined between the Multi-AP agents and the controller and/or between agents.

Having a controller in the home is an interesting idea coming from the enterprise space. Essentially, this would be located in the residential gateway. The controller will manage roaming and load balancing between APs.

The method in which Multi-APs join the controller will be a mandatory method of Push Button Configuration (PBC). There is also a backhaul station on-boarding procedure via AP-Autoconfig for discovery.

Network Operations

There are various configurations managed from the Multi-AP Controller:

Capability Report

Multi-AP Agents report capabilities to the controller such as the number of radios, channel width supported, PHY protocol supported. 

Channel Selection

Channel configuration is performed by the controller. By default the maximum Tx Power is used but the controller can decide to lower it down to improve system signal conditions. The controller sends a Channel Preference Query message to each Agent. The EasyMesh specification does state DFS support so we’ll see many more channels available in the home.

Link Metric Collection

Client devices can convey link metric information related to the network. Agents also leverage 802.11k beacon report measurements to report metrics about the quality of the links between the agent and the clients.

Client Steering

The controller sends control messages to the agents to steer clients. Client supporting 802.11v BSS Transition Management will experience faster transitions.

Optimizing Connection Between Agents

Controller select the best path to connect the agents together.

Thoughts

It will be interesting to see if vendors will get together on this specification to improve home networking. Wi-Fi Alliance EasyMesh looks aimed for ISPs to provide home mesh networking for their customers. With a gateway from an ISP, they can control the other APs in the home. This helps them reduce the number of customer calls about poor Wi-Fi and reduces the number of truck rolls. We can see ISPs partnering with specific AP vendors which are EasyMesh certified to sell a solution to the customer.

But without more spectrum (6 GHz) and 802.11ax, we won’t see much improvement in home mesh network in environments where it is highly dense.

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About the Author
Rowell, CWNE #210, is a network engineer in Higher-Ed. He enjoys working with wireless networking technologies and loves to share and engage with the community. You can connect with him on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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