WiFi EasyMesh Certification: What are the benefits?

What is WiFi EasyMesh?

The WiFi Alliance is taking the lead in many new initiatives around WiFi standards. A few months ago, they announced the WiFi Protected Access protocol Version 3 –  a week ago, they announced the WiFi CERTIFIED EasyMesh.

Wireless mesh networks provide connectivity by using access points (APs) that connect to each other wirelessly.

In this mesh network, the APs use a wireless network to communicate with each other for roaming, synchronization and set up as well as providing WiFi data to the end user. Contrast this with the traditional networks where each APs connects to a WiFi controller through a wired connection.

Mesh networks are very appealing since they provide flexibility and scalability in terms of installation. However, they haven’t successfully found broad adoption in the enterprise world yet. Only recently did we start seeing vendors targeting home environments and small offices that incorporate up to a hand full of APs. A few examples are Netgear’s Orbi, LinkSys’s Velop, Google’s Google WiFi and Eero.

All of these vendors implement their own version of mesh networking. The principles are the same, but all of them operate in an island: it’s not possible to get one Google WiFi APs and two Eero ones and create one mesh network with three APs. Since these systems started to become very popular the WiFi Alliance introduced the Wi-Fi EasyMesh certification that will allow consumers to combine WiFi APs from multiple vendors to create their own mesh networks.

What can WiFi EasyMesh provide?

AP that are WiFi EasyMesh certified will provide a list of services. Some of the most important are:

  • Easy set up: Ideally, the APs would be able to discover each other and set up the network with as little user intervention as possible
  • Minimum requirement: support for 802.11n and optionally 802.11ac
  • Client steering: AP coordination to steer a client to a specific AP for optimal user experience
  • Dynamic channel selection: APs may switch channels and transmit power dynamically in order to optimize the overall network performance

The Wi-Fi EasyMesh certification has just been introduced, and there aren’t any vendors complying with it already. I estimate it will take a couple of years before we see certified products in the market.

Summary

In my opinion, the value of the certification is not really on the interoperability between vendors, since in most cases consumers will buy a solution that includes APs from a single vendor. Consumers will benefit from this certification mostly because they know that a certified AP meets some minimum criteria as set by the standard.

Something that is way more interesting in the WiFi space would be enterprise mesh networks that can meet or outperform the current state of the art.