May
05
2015

5 Must-Have Features for Your Next Wi-Fi Solution

Wi-Fi is rapidly becoming a primary means of connectivity in nearly every commercial vertical. Enterprises are relying more on wireless connectivity to increase employee productivity, retail stores are using Wi-Fi for cutting-edge inventory management systems, and schools are utilizing wireless networks to create a high-tech classroom. As demand on existing wireless networks increases, many IT managers are considering an upgrade to their wireless network. In this article, we examine the top 5 must-haves in your next Wi-Fi solution.

Distributed Control Plane

Many Wi-Fi solutions consist of multiple access points with a centralized hardware controller. In many cases, all client traffic and management traffic is switched to a centralized controller, which executes security and quality of service policies and forwards the traffic to the wired network. As the number of users, access points, or connection speed increases, the business must upgrade the controller, as it presents a throughput bottleneck for all traffic leaving the wireless network. Newer managed Wi-Fi solutions remove the controller from the data path while still maintaining centralized management, allowing the control function to be located offsite or hosted by a third party. With current Wi-Fi speeds topping 1Gbps and multiple devices per user, it is crucial for organizations to consider a cloud/virtualized solution where the management and control function of the wireless network are independent of the data path for client traffic.

Flexible Licensing Model

Many Wi-Fi vendors now offer managed Wi-Fi solutions with cloud-based management boasting low deployment costs and state-of-the-art features. Unfortunately, many of these solutions only offer regular, recurring licensing models, which, if the license were to lapse, the Wi-Fi access points and control would no longer function and essentially be dead weight. Because many businesses and educational institutions have budgets that change from year to year, a best-in-class Wi-Fi solution will offer a flexible licensing model which frees customers from a regular, recurring payment and allows them to own the end-to-end system or outsource the hosting and support depending on their internal resources and financial needs.

802.11AC

Today’s laptops, tables, and phones all offer the latest in Wi-Fi connectivity and so should your next Wi-Fi solution. Studies show that most users have at least 2 Wi-Fi-enabled devices, and with more devices comes more bandwidth demand. In addition, The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to deliver more Wi-Fi-enabled, smart devices in the business, which will also increase network demand. 802.11ac Wave 1 offers actual throughput approaching 1Gbps, which can serve more users with higher speeds than previous technologies. Future Wi-Fi standards will increase throughput and efficiency even further. With demand on the wireless network at your business getting larger by the day, it is crucial that your next Wi-Fi solution be provided by a vendor that offers the latest, most reliable Wi-Fi technology.

Role-Based Access Control

Heightened security requirements such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and the need to ensure that mission-critical traffic receives adequate bandwidth necessitates the ability to control access based on the type of user. Modern Wi-Fi APs offer an integrated firewall, which provides the ability to block unwanted traffic before it enters the wired network, leaving more capacity for legitimate traffic. Before you purchase your next Wi-Fi solution, make sure your vendor is familiar with PCI compliance, offers a security feature-set that allows for granular access control, and allows you to control bandwidth consumed by your end-users.

Reporting and Analytics

The key to evaluating your company’s Wi-Fi budget is understanding how well your current network serves the demands of its end users. Further, comprehensive reporting can reduce trouble tickets and user downtime. Today’s best Wi-Fi solutions provide administrators with comprehensive, customizable reports including usage per user, number of users per AP, and more. Preparing a business case to upgrade your Wi-Fi network is much easier if you can export factual, relevant data about current and historical network demand, which is why your Wi-Fi solution needs quality reporting and analytics.

In closing, today’s users have more devices and demand more bandwidth than ever before. You next Wi-Fi solution should arm you with the latest speeds and feeds without the bottleneck or increased cost of upgrading a hardware controller.  In addition, the best Wi-Fi solutions are CFO and helpdesk friendly by providing a flexible licensing model and granular, customizable reporting and analytics. Lastly, security and quality of service are paramount as businesses and educational institutions depend more on wireless networks for mission critical functions such as accepting credit cards and accessing student records.

 

About the author: Chris Tucker brings over 15 years of telecommunications experience to ADTRAN and currently supports several cable MSO and CLEC customers with ADTRAN’s leading business services products. Prior to joining ADTRAN, Chris served as a solutions engineer for a major DOCSIS cable modem manufacturer where he supported product qualification efforts at many of the top ten US cable MSOs. Chris has also served in several sales engineering and technical business development assignments supporting the introduction of cutting-edge service delivery solutions into the cable, telco, and satellite service provider verticals. Chris holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology from Purdue University. 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.adtran.com/5-musthave-features-for-your-next-wifi-solution/

Apr
28
2015

Is FTTH fast enough for European Operators?

2015 may prove to be a decisive year for European Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) investments. Competition within the European telecoms market is intensifying. Consolidation within the cable providers is creating pan-European multi-service giants. Liberty Global leads the charge, with mobile players like Vodafone moving in on the action. With their infrastructures upgraded to DOCSIS 3.0 for many years now, these multi-service operators are moving to compete with more sophisticated offerings, over and above the traditional headline speed positioning of old. In the cable world it is clear the game has changed. The new weapon of choice is service bundles, with exclusive TV content being the ammunition. As more operators seek to enter the TV arena, increasing demand for content rights is applying upward pressure on the cost. This is now compounded by disruptive Over the Top (OTT) providers like Netflix, Amazon and Google. Only those service providers with true scale will be able to justify the premiums required to secure exclusive access to the most popular content.

As we reflect on the European FTTH market, we continue to see steady progress, coupled with some remarkable growth spurts in the likes of Russia, Romania and Spain. Unfortunately these bursts in activities are not reflective of activities and investments throughout Europe. Recently we witnessed the celebratory news headlines which applauded the EU28 FTTH subscriptions surpassing the 15 Million mark. While this is indeed a fine milestone, and worthy of celebration, we must temper our jubilance with the reality that this reflects a mere 7 percent of households across the EU28. Closer examination of the trajectories of many EU28 markets currently focused on FTTH, will not see them reach parity with copper connections within the next 20 to 35 years.

It is widely acknowledged by most operators that some of the largest barriers they face with FTTH deployment come from the customer base they are seeking to serve. Service rejection and scheduling delays result in substantial erosion of scale economies, drive costs upward and compound delays. Until recently, technologies which shortened copper loops to deliver higher speed broadband were not deemed by the industry to be sufficient for inclusion within a formal FTTH or FTTB classification. With the bulk of Europe’s reported Fibre connections being FTTB, where copper is used for the final service delivery, recognition of the complimentary benefits that the very latest copper technologies bring to accelerating FTTH deployments is welcomed.

G.fast will permit service providers to embark on a more traditional telecoms technology deployment where the operator is in charge of their deployment schedule, and strong geographical scale economies can be achieved, accelerating deployment times and reducing service delivery costs. Offering speeds which can compete with the strongest cable offerings permits Europe’s operators to elevate themselves above the headline speed marketing campaigns and reinvigorate their campaigns with multi-service bundles enhanced with localised content.

Ironically it seems that the antidote to Europe’s FTTH woes may prove to be a sprinkling of copper.

Ronan Kelly is ADTRAN Chief Technology Officer for the EMEA and APAC regions

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.adtran.com/is-ftth-fast-enough-for-european-operators/

Apr
23
2015

Gigabit Broadband: Watching, Waiting, Wishing

With the current surge of Gigabit Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) deployments happening in the United States, and the resulting  1 Gigabit-per-second broadband services being offered, a lot of service providers are watching intently as they work through their own Gigabit plans. They are waiting for more data points regarding the tangible benefits being bestowed upon these broadband trail blazers. As they take stock of their current network capabilities, they are also wishing they could limit the inevitable network impacts and deployment costs tied to rolling out a wide-area Gigabit service to their subscriber base. FTTH Broadband, and more so Gigabit Broadband, comes with a cost. That said, not offering Gigabit Broadband comes with a cost as well.

So why Gig?

What are the tangible market drivers that are leading dozens of service providers to offer–and hundreds of communities to subscribe to–Gigabit Broadband? For me, there are four key drivers that push any network operator to invest in their network in order to offer new services – and Gigabit Broadband is no different. One could argue that in some ways it is a “poster child” of sorts for why innovate? Why invest? Why Gig?

  1. Economic and community development
    Broadband is as crucial to the lifeblood of a community as running water and reliable power. Dependable, ultra-fast broadband attracts new industries to town, supports higher wage jobs and underpins new educational, industrial and medical services advancements.
  1. Preparedness for future high bandwidth end-user applications
    It’s not all about supporting new, fatter UHD 4k video or unicast Over-the-Top (OTT) streaming being used by cord-cutters who are replacing their bandwidth-economizing broadcast TV. Cloud-based services architectures are highly disruptive and the bandwidth consuming innovation that will come from this will be mind-boggling.
  1. Competitive differentiation/market share capture
    Don’t wait – innovate. Avoid irrelevance by staving off the insurgence of Google, AT&T, CenturyLink, and Comcast. The last thing any service provider wants to hear is, “We already got Gig here – you’re too late. Move along.”
  1. Perceived leadership/marketing campaign to drive ‘halo effect.’ Subscribers choose progressive, leading companies even if they’re just choosing the base broadband package.

Applying Experience, Incorporating Wisdom

The pace of change in technology is accelerating faster than ever before, being driven by social change and the need for community development in a hyper-competitive, hyper-connected world. Broadband investment is shifting from service coverage to delivering super-fast broadband speeds to serve communities as they upgrade technology. It has taken our industry nearly a century to realize there is an infinite demand for bandwidth and we must stop forecasting future network needs based on today’s application requirements. Many of us believe our industry is part of something bigger than we might imagine and Gigabit Broadband will be an integral part of that something, whatever it will be.

Kurt Raaflaub 273x300 Gigabit Broadband: Watching, Waiting, Wishing

Kurt Raaflaub serves as ADTRAN’s senior manager of strategic solutions marketing, and has more than 20 years’ experience in telecom. He has global solutions marketing responsibility for SDN/NFV, Gigabit Broadband, Packet Opal, Carrier Ethernet-based Cloud Connectivity as well as managed/hosted ProCloud services delivery for residential, enterprise and backhaul markets. Prior to his current position, Raaflaub was responsible for directing ADTRAN’s Broadband, Carrier Ethernet and Packet Optical solutions marketing activities within ADTRAN’s Carrier Networks Division. In 2006, he joined ADTRAN from Nortel where for over a decade, he held various roles focused on marketing and managing new disruptive market opportunities.

 

 

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.adtran.com/gigabit-broadband-watching-waiting-wishing/

Apr
15
2015

ADTRAN Senior Design Showcase: Innovation for the Future

The future of technology is upon us. Every day something new, advanced or just slightly different is being announced. While it generally comes from enterprises with generous R&D funds, this week it will come from universities—senior engineering students to be exact—who have a drastically reduced budget.

For nearly 48 hours, our ADTRAN campus will host the next generation of innovation with soon-to-be engineering professionals. Dozens of university seniors from seven US college campuses will converge in Huntsville, Alabama to network with ADTRAN engineers, learn about the field, and share their senior design projects. Three additional colleges from India and Germany will also participate, thanks to online, multicast video conferencing technology.

The Senior Design Showcase is an opportunity for students to present their capstone project, by combining skills gained over the semester, as well as knowledge learned throughout their college careers. But perhaps more importantly, it provides a forum for our company to connect with and maintain strong relationships with engineering and computer science-based universities.

For ADTRAN, our goal is to be innovative today while simultaneously supporting future innovation. Engineering students bring a fresh perspective and see technology in a different way. They understand what needs to be created vs. simply updated. By building relationships with engineering programs, we’re not only connecting with future patent-holders, we’re able to discover new ideas. While we would certainly love to have some of these bright minds join us at ADTRAN when they graduate, it’s truly about working together for the advancement of technology.

Designed to be a collaborative effort and not a competition, the ADTRAN Senior Design Showcase focuses on the creativity of each team rather than providing rules. The event will bring together Engineering and Computer Science teams from Auburn University, Tennessee Tech, University of Alabama-Huntsville, and University of Alabama as well as KMIT University and BITS-Piliani Hyderabad in India. Additionally, our ADTRAN-Germany team is hosting the University of Rostock in at the ADTRAN-Greifswald campus. Some examples of projects to be explored include:

  • A drone that automatically and autonomously cleans solar panels on top of buildings.
  • A fiber-optic switch that is integrated into automatic test suites to ensure high-speed Internet is always online for Gig-cities
  • An autonomous robot playing games that are generally played during car rides—including card games and Etch-A-Sketch
  • A rover mounted with a Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) system able to scan through the interior walls of a building to help fire rescue teams
  • New, novel approaches to data mining that help predict bug fix times via software engineering analytics.

Having students back on campus for the event reminds us that the next-generation of innovation can be anywhere. We are pleased to welcome them to ADTRAN and are excited to see how the week unfolds.

Kent Darzi is Engineering Director, Strategic and Global Development for ADTRAN

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.adtran.com/adtran-senior-design-showcase-innovation-for-the-future/

Mar
10
2015

Should I outsource my school’s Wi-Fi network?

Picking up from our last discussion around cloud wireless, let’s take a look at the specifics around when a school district should move forward with either an on-premises or managed Wi-Fi solution.

The Wi-Fi market is continuing to see incredible growth, with it projected to reach $6.7B by 2018, per Dell’Oro Group.  Nowhere is this growth more profound than in the education market. School systems are continuing to roll out new BYOD and 1:1 Computing programs, resulting in more mobile devices on the network, putting an incredible strain on both infrastructure and IT staff.

Schools need a top performing wired and wireless network for high bandwidth applications like YouTube in classrooms and cloud applications such as Moodle or Blackboard.  They also require centralized user and security policy administration to support learning initiatives from online testing to flipped classrooms and beyond.  Finally, there needs to be quick resolution to connectivity issues for staff and students.  Any downtime can result in lost productivity and frustrated students and teachers.

With all this in mind, when does it make sense for a school district to make the switch from an in-house Wi-Fi solution to a managed offering?  Key to this decision is to ask the following questions:

  • Single-site, Multi-site, and Multi-tenant Facilities – does the district have difficulty managing multiple buildings?
  • Wireless network expansion driven by BYOD – is the district able to keep pace with the number of new devices coming onto the network?
  • Limited IT resources – does the district have enough resources to manage the network?
  • Day-to-day maintenance/management – if the staff is limited, would districts benefit from offloading IT burdens and augment their existing resources to focus on what they do best—serve their students and faculty?
  • Wi-Fi Security – does the IT staff have real-time and historical reports and trends into network health, users, connected devices, capacity and usage? Can they make informed decisions on network investments to improve the user experience?

Critical to all of these questions is making sure the district also has the flexibility to go from an outsourced model to bringing management back in-house – especially, knowing that E-rate funding has no guarantee year after year. Also, most school districts do not want to get locked into a long term subscription model.

Schools that receive E-rate funding this year and choose ADTRAN ProCloud Wi-Fi need not worry about leveraging their Wi-Fi investment in the future, since they have the ability to bring the solution in-house via Bluesocket vWLAN and manage it themselves – when and if they are ready.

A school system’s first priority is students. Giving them an education that facilitates long term academic success while instilling confidence and critical thinking skills requires a modern curriculum and a dependable network. That’s why the network solution needs to be one that enriches this experience and puts learning above all.

Be sure to visit ADTRAN at the upcoming CoSN 2015 conference in Atlanta from March 16-19 to gain a better understanding of managed Wi-Fi and its benefits to advancing K-12 goals and initiatives.

Jason King is the director of marketing for the Bluesocket Business Group at ADTRAN. With over 15 years’ experience in the industry, he is responsible for the overall promotion and positioning of the company’s Wi-Fi solutions. Find him on Twitter <em>@jjking24

 

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.adtran.com/should-i-outsource-my-schools-wifi-network/

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