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Wireless

Wi-Fi CERTIFIED EasyMesh™ Update: Added Features for Operator-Managed Home Wi-Fi® Networks

John Bahr
Principal Architect, Wireless Technologies

Feb 18, 2020

It’s been about a year since Wi-Fi Alliance released the Wi-Fi EasyMesh™ program and started certifying devices. Since then, the industry has been hard at work creating Wi-Fi EasyMesh products and working on what comes next. CableLabs is continuing its leadership work on the updated Wi-Fi EasyMesh certification program, and now we can all see the fruits of that labor.

The updated Wi-Fi EasyMesh protocol adds a number of essential features that operators and end-users need:

  • Wi-Fi EasyMesh Controller-centric collection of Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Data Elements™ diagnostic data from all connected access points (APs)
  • Enhanced backhaul security with SAE
  • Optimized use of available channels with coordinated channel scanning (including DFS channels)
  • Network traffic separation with virtual local area networks (VLANs), such as private and guest networks
  • Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Agile Multiband™ support for improved client connections

What’s the Big Deal?

Since our last blog post about Wi-Fi EasyMesh, mesh APs have become almost as well known as antibacterial soap or friendship bracelets, albeit not yet as universally deployed. Many of these products work very well, especially those that have dedicated interconnection (backhaul) radios, as Wi-Fi® remains the easiest and most cost-effective way to connect these multi-AP systems.

So, what’s the problem we’re solving with this Wi-Fi EasyMesh update? Nearly all of the products not certified for Wi-Fi EasyMesh are opaque to an operator. When problems arise, the operator has little to no information available about what’s going on behind the cable modem gateway, and the customer is left without assistance. The first version of the Wi-Fi EasyMesh protocol created the groundwork for this, whereby the Wi-Fi EasyMesh Controller (usually in the cable modem gateway) can set up and configure the other Wi-Fi EasyMesh APs. Now, the updated Wi-Fi EasyMesh protocol includes all the diagnostics information (aka, Wi-Fi Data Elements™) that an operator might need to get down to the nitty gritty and fix an issue.

Wi-Fi Data Elements, You Say…

In the blog post, “Data Elements and TR-181 – Connect to the PNM Data You Need,” my colleague Josh Redmore explained what Wi-Fi Data Elements are and exactly why operators need them:

The ultimate iteration of [remote Wi-Fi troubleshooting] is a fully automated proactive network maintenance system, where Wi-Fi issues are resolved before they impact your customer. When Wi-Fi becomes self-healing, customers enjoy seamless access to your services.”

We can safely say that this is the Holy Grail of any operator-deployed Wi-Fi system, and the updated Wi-Fi EasyMesh protocol with Wi-Fi Data Elements support makes that possible in a standardized way.

Figure 1: Example Wi-Fi EasyMesh and Wi-Fi Data Elements Network Topology

But Wait, There’s More…

Remember all the major enhancements listed above in the Wi-Fi EasyMesh protocol update? What benefits do those bring?

  • SAE support in the backhaul brings more robust authentication mechanisms, increases cryptographic strength, disallows outdated legacy protocols, and requires the use of Protected Management Frames (PMF). It adds support for Simultaneous Authentication of Equals (SAE), which is resistant to offline dictionary attacks.
  • Coordinated channel scanning is a combination of two features that essentially allow the Wi-Fi EasyMesh Controller to get a complete picture of which Wi-Fi channels are overcrowded and which are free for use. It includes the ability to ask APs to scan specific channels, including DFS channels. The result is that the Wi-Fi EasyMesh network will be able to use the best channels available for each deployment—not only as first installed, but continually.
  • Network traffic separation continues Wi-Fi EasyMesh’s support for multiple service set identifiers (SSIDs) per AP and even per radio. However, until now, all traffic for those SSIDs was intermingled. Now each SSID’s traffic can be separated into VLANs. This upgrade helps operators take a step in the right direction toward traffic security.
  • Wi-Fi Agile Multiband™ support adds a number of features, including optional support for Fast Transition roaming with WPA2-PSK, improved guidance for clients to move to another AP in the network, tunneling of certain client-sent management frames (ANQP, WNM, Assoc) back to the Wi-Fi EasyMesh Controller, and support for association-disallowed attributes in beacons and probe responses from Wi-Fi EasyMesh Agents.

CableLabs’ Early and Continuing Involvement

Wi-Fi connectivity is key for CableLabs’ members, and CableLabs has been working closely on this Wi-Fi Alliance standard from the start. We were chosen to be the editor of the organization's test plan for both the first and second versions of the protocol, and we worked with Wi-Fi Alliance staff and vendors to develop the certification program. CableLabs continues to help lead and contribute essential technology to the Wi-Fi EasyMesh program.

Stay tuned for more press releases and blog posts to follow the progress of this new wireless technology.

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News

CableLabs Honored with a New Technology Emmy

Feb 13, 2020

This awards season, CableLabs won a Technology and Engineering Emmy Award for enabling development and deployment of the Hybrid Fiber Coax (HFC) Network Architecture—the suite of technologies responsible for the razor-sharp broadband video, high-speed Internet you enjoy today.

These Emmy awards aren’t easy to snag—although we previously received one in 2010 for DOCSIS 3.0 technology. They’re awarded only once per year to individuals and companies whose technologies have made an extensive and significant impact on the transmission, recording and reception of television. Essentially, the awards recognize technologies that have revolutionized the industry. That’s inarguably true of HFC and, specifically, the AM laser technology that replaced the very long and unreliable amplifiers in cable distribution plants. AM lasers substantially reduced noise and distortion and increased the plants’ bandwidth, paving the way for high-capacity digital services such as HDTV, Video on Demand, high-speed Internet connectivity and more. In just a few decades, cable operators have universally adopted HFC technology, deploying more than 500,000 miles of optical fiber worldwide.

CableLabs’ Contribution: A Little Bit of History

In many ways, what’s known today as HFC technology is a joint effort to improve the reliability of cable technologies devised in the early 1980s. Prior to 1985, cable systems had long cascades of amplifiers, the failure of which affected service to large populations. In search of a solution, Time Warner—and later, Ortel—began experimenting with using fiber deep in the system with much shorter legs of coax and only a few amplifiers in each leg. The results were very promising—much better picture, reduced noise and greater overall system reliability.

After the initial test trials, the challenge was to make this technology economically viable for larger-scale commercial deployments. This is where CableLabs has played a monumental role. In 1988–89, newly formed CableLabs (led by Dick Green) drove the effort to standardize the application of HFC technology and facilitate collaboration between cable operators and industry vendors, resulting in rapid performance improvements and reduced cost.  It is this collaboration across cable operators, industry vendors and CableLabs – and other industry partners – that remains the hallmark of CableLabs’ continued success today.

What’s Next for HFC: The Road to 10G

HFC technology has been around for over 30 years and is still going strong, providing the platform for countless gigabit data services, like Ultra HD and more. It’s also the basis for the cable industry’s 10G platform, which aims to provide faster speed, lower latencies, enhanced reliability and better security in a scalable manner. Achieving this goal will open the door to a whole new wave of innovations, such as full-immersion virtual reality (VR) gaming, artificial intelligence (AI) applications and other technologies that will revolutionize the way we live in the near future.

One of the major advantages of HFC architecture is its ubiquity, which allows the cable industry to make quick performance improvements without any major, expensive overhauls to the system. And although we at CableLabs are deeply honored to receive recognition for our contribution, our work on HFC is far from over. We’ll continue working with our members and partners to unleash HFC’s full potential, building on our existing foundation to deliver a fast, reliable and secure network of the future.

The 72st Annual Technology and Engineering Emmy Awards will take place in partnership with the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), at the NAB Show at the Wynn Encore Hotel and Spa on Sunday, April 19th, 2020 in Las Vegas, NV.

Acknowledgment of Significant Individual and Corporate Contributors:

 

CableLabsDick Green
Time Warner / ATCJim Collins, Jim Chiddix, Louis Williamson, Dave Pangrac, Don Gall, John Walsh, Jim Luddington, Jay Vaughn
TCIJohn Malone (who was also Chairman of CableLabs), J.C. Sparkman, Richard Rexrote
OrtelHank Blauvelt, Larry Stark
ANTEC / AT&T Bell LaboratoriesANTEC – John Egan

AT&T Bell Laboratories – Bob Stanzione, Carl McGrath, Gerry Fenderson

Jerrold / General InstrumentDavid Grubb, Steve Frederick, Geoff Roman
Scientific AtlantaDave Fellows, Lee Thompson, Frank Little, Rezin Pigeon

 

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Virtualization

Give your Edge an Adrenaline Boost: Using Kubernetes to Orchestrate FPGAs and GPU

Randy Levensalor
Principal Architect, Future Infrastructure Group, Office of the CTO

Jan 28, 2020

Over the past year, we’ve been experimenting with field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and graphics processing units (GPUs) to improve edge compute performance and reduce the overall cost of edge deployments.

Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past 2 years, you’ve heard all the excitement about edge computing. For the uninitiated, edge computing allows for applications that previously required special hardware to be on customer premises to run on systems located near customers. These workloads require either very low latency or very high bandwidth, which means they don’t do well in the cloud. With many of these low-latency applications, microseconds matter. At CableLabs, we’ve been defining a reference architecture and adapting Kubernetes to better meet the low-latency needs of edge computing workloads.

CableLabs engineer Omkar Dharmadhikari wrote a blog post in May 2019 called Moving Beyond Cloud Computing to Edge Computing, outlining many of the opportunities for edge computing. If you aren’t familiar with the benefits of edge computing, I’d suggest reading that post before you read further.

New Features

As part of our efforts around Project Adrenaline, we’ve shared tools to ease the management of hardware accelerators in Kubernetes. These tools are available in the SNAPS-Kubernetes GitHub repository.

  • Field-programmable gate array (FPGA) accelerator integration
  • Graphics processing unit (GPU) accelerator integration

Hardware Acceleration

FPGAs and GPUs can be used as hardware accelerators. There are three advantages that we consider when moving a workload to an accelerator:

  • Time requirements
  • Power requirements
  • Space requirements

Time, space and power are all critical for edge deployments. You have limited space and power for each location. The time needed to complete the operation must fall within the desired limits, and certain operations can be much faster running on an accelerator than on a CPU.

Writing applications for accelerators can be more difficult because there are fewer language options than general-purpose CPUs have. Frameworks such as OpenCL attempt to bridge this gap and allow a single program to work on CPUs, GPUs and FPGAs. Unfortunately, this interoperability comes with a performance cost that makes these frameworks a poor choice for certain edge workloads. The good news is that several major accelerator hardware manufacturers are targeting the edge, releasing frameworks and pre-built libraries that will bridge this performance gap over time.

Although we don’t have any hard-and-fast rules today for what workloads should be accelerated and on which platform, we have some general guidelines. Integer (whole number) operations are typically faster on a general-purpose CPU. Floating point (decimal number) are typically faster on GPUs. Bitwise operations, manipulating ones and zeros, are typically faster on FPGAs.

Another thing to keep in mind when deciding where to deploy a workload is the cost of transitioning that workload from one compute platform to another. There’s a penalty for every memory copy, even within the same server. This means that running consecutive tasks within a pipeline on one platform can be faster than running each task on the platform that is best for that task.

Accelerator Installation Challenges

When you use accelerators such as FPGAs and GPUs, managing the low-level software (drivers) to run them can be a challenge. Additional hooks to install these drivers during the OS deployment have been added to SNAPS-Boot, including examples for installing drivers for some accelerators. We encourage you to share your experiences and help us add support for a broader set of accelerators.

Co-Innovation

These features were developed in a co-innovation partnership with Altran. We jointly developed the software and collaborated on the proof of concepts. You can discover more about our co-innovation program on our website, which includes information about how to contact CableLabs with a co-innovation opportunity.

Extending Project Adrenaline

Project Adrenaline only scratches the surface of what’s possible with accelerated edge computing. The uses for edge compute are vast and rapidly evolving. As you plan your edge strategy, be sure to include the capability to manage programmable accelerators and reduce your dependence on single-purpose ASICs. Deploying redundant and flexible platforms is a great way to reduce the time and expense of managing components at thousands or even millions of edge locations.

As part of Project Adrenaline, SNAPS-Kubernetes ties together all these components to make it easy to try in your lab. With the continuing certification of SNAPS-Kubernetes, we’re staying current with releases of Kubernetes as they stabilize. SNAPS-Boot has additional features to easily prepare your servers for Kubernetes. As always, you can find the latest information about SNAPS on the CableLabs SNAPS page.

Contact Randy to get your adrenaline fix at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, February 24-27 2020.

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News

Mexican Cable Operator Joins CableLabs

Chris Lammers
Chief Operating Officer

Jan 9, 2020

Just a couple months after our new member announcement for Millicom, we’re happy to report that yet another Latin American cable company—Megacable—is joining us. The timing couldn’t be better. As we geared up for our inaugural Latin America & Caribbean Summit in December, we relied on our CALA members to bring cable’s global 10G vision of universal high-speed Internet access and continuous connectivity to the areas they serve. And now that one of Mexico’s largest cable communications companies is onboard (together with Izzi Telecom), we’re looking forward to working with them to make this vision a reality in the near future.

About Megacable

If you live in Mexico, you’re probably familiar with Megacable, a TV, phone and Internet provider operating in 26 states and more than 350 municipalities, including Guadalajara, Puebla, Toluca, León, Veracruz, Hermosillo, Culiacán, Morelia, Querétaro and Torreón. The company’s fiber network, which passes 8.8 million homes, spans more than 61,000 km (that’s more than 38,000 miles) supported by nearly 22,000 employees. As of September 30, 2019, Megacable had grown to approximately 3.2 million pay-TV subscribers, 3.1 million broadband subscribers and 2.1 million telephony subscribers. At the close of Q3 2019, unique subscribers rose to 3.6 million, and revenue-generating units (RGUs) reached 8.4 million, up 7.1 percent compared with Q3 2018. RGUs per unique subscriber reached 2.3, continuing an upward trend.

In addition to its basic triple-play services, Megacable also creates and broadcasts exclusive content related to Mexican culture, tourism, news and entertainment on its own Video Rola channel, available live in certain parts of Mexico and the United States. In August, Megacable broadcast its first original series production on the Panico and Cine Mexicano channels, as well as on Megacable’s “Xview” its interactive video and on-demand platform. The 13-episode series is called “13 Minutos Antes de Dormir” (“13 Minutes Before Sleeping”) and features a number of Mexican horror legends, plus an original score. The company also caters to its business clients with a robust portfolio of services that includes the design and development of tailored information technology and equipment solutions.

Mega-Plans for the Future

Megacable’s future ambitions include improving and expanding its fiber optics footprint, as well as offering a whole new set of mobile services to its customers. Just this May, Megacable acquired another 1,370 km of fiber optics infrastructure through a deal with Axtel, increasing its residential and business subscriber base by 50,000. In November, Megacable began its journey to becoming a quadruple-play provider by venturing into the mobile business as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) under its new service “Mega 4.5G.” As part of its launch promotion in select cities, it has distributed more than 500,000 SIM cards with access to Megacable’s MVNO network absolutely free for 3 months.

This type of entrepreneurial spirit is essential to driving progress and helping people stay more connected to everything and everyone they love. Improving high-speed connectivity, whether wired or wireless, is key to realizing the 10G future where lightning-fast super networks will serve as a springboard for a whole new wave of innovation—not just in Mexico, but all around the world.

Welcome, Megacable!

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Innovation

  2020 Tech Innovation Predictions

Phil McKinney
President & CEO

Jan 6, 2020

Now that 2020 has arrived, it’s time to share my tech innovation predictions for the year. Watch the video below to find out what you can expect to see this year.

What are your innovation predictions for 2020? Tell us in the comment section below. Best wishes for a great new year!

 --

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10G

The Path to 10G: 2020 Update

Mariam Sorond
Chief Research and Development Officer and Senior Vice President

Jan 3, 2020

The future of connectivity holds technical enhancements that are meant to change the way we live, work, learn and play. A fully realized connected network that enables all the different use cases and provides ubiquitous coverage through a seamless experience will need to rely on multiple access technologies and choices. Seeing this paradigm shift in the future of connectivity, the broadband industry came together to announce the 10G Platform in January 2019, led by CableLabs, SCTE•ISBE, NCTA and GIGAEurope. 10G will enable broadband connectivity with higher connection speeds, lower latency, higher reliability and increased security, and it also will enable and complement other access technologies.

Today, DOCSIS 3.1 technology enables the cable industry to offer 1 Gbps service to 80% of U.S. households. Just one year after the announcement of 10G, we have made some exciting progress towards this milestone in just 12 months.

Speed

As we march towards the frontier of 10G, new cable modems already being certified are capable of 5 Gbps capacity, with integrated standard 2.5 Gbps Ethernet ports that make it easier to distribute that capacity throughout the home. With full duplex and extended spectrum capabilities integrated into next-generation DOCSIS 4.0 technology, the industry will be able to deliver on that 10 Gbps promise over hybrid fiber coax networks.

The 10G optical network (Figure 1), is the backbone of the distributed access architecture and will provide the industry with opportunities for true service convergence that leverages the flexibility and tremendous capacity provided by fiber optics.

10G-Converged-Optical-Network

Figure 1: The 10G converged optical network

This year, CableLabs released an update to the 100 Gbps point-to-point coherent optics specification and released a new 200 Gbps specification – both intended to support the aggregation requirements of the distributed access architecture. While operators currently deploy 10G passive optical network technology (PON) where fiber to the premise is preferred, the IEEE standard for next-generation 25G-PON and 50G-PON technology remains on track for mid-2020 completion.

Latency

Lower latency is an important network characteristic that is quickly becoming a key service differentiator for connectivity, especially when considering delivering top cloud gaming or telemedicine experiences. This year, CableLabs and industry partners completed the DOCSIS specification updates to include Low Latency DOCSIS (LLD), a technique allowing traffic that requires low latency to transit the HFC network in just 1-2ms. Implementation of this technology quickly ramped up with seven vendors attending the LLD interoperability events.

Additionally, as part of the convergence of HFC networks with 5G networks, latency becomes critical when looking to use HFC as the transport layer. In 2019, we trialed two new technologies that enable mobile deployments over DOCSIS networks:

  • Low Latency Xhaul pipelines DOCSIS bandwidth requests from mobile base stations, and was trialed and showed average DOCSIS network latency below 2ms.
  • We also lead a trial of the TIP vRAN Fronthaul project, which is vRAN fronthaul designed to handle DOCSIS network latencies up to 30ms.

Security

Another key pillar of the 10G Platform is security, to which we have dedicated significant efforts over the last year, advancing four leading technologies:

  • Transparent Security uses the programmable data plane inside the access network to perform in-band telemetry and traffic processing. This increases protection against distributed denial of service attacks and provides flexibility to the network operator in active defense techniques.
  • Device Onboarding makes good on the 10G promise by requiring easy and secure onboarding and provisioning of devices connecting to the platform made possible through strong device identity credentials and lifecycle management.
  • Endpoint Identity provides unique, immutable, and attestable identities for networked devices. Strong device identity provides the trust framework to enable all other security controls, making it fundamental for securing the 10G Platform.
  • Network Independent Credentialing, an essential part of 10G security, allows for authentication and risk management across access networks. Supporting this vision, Release 2 of the CBRS-A specifications included CableLabs’ work on Extended Credentials Authentication Framework (TS-1003) which extends the possibility to authenticate to CBRS-A Networks with different types of credentials – e.g., X.509 Digital Certificates. Building on that, the work is now focused on providing a common credentials management framework that can be integrated across the 10G platform (EAP-CREDS).

Reliability

Proactive network maintenance (PNM) has long been a key element to increasing the reliability of the HFC network and providing an excellent quality of experience for cable service subscribers, and it is no different with 10G. This year CableLabs has a more robust portfolio of PNM activities than ever before. By measuring key “health” parameters from millions of cable modems, operators are able to create solutions on the Pro Ops platform to solve problems before customers experience any degradation in service.

Our PNM accomplishments extend to Wi-Fi where CableLabs led the pursuit of establishing a standard set of health metrics and their reporting format for Wi-Fi networks – now officially called Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Data Elements– to optimize residential Wi-Fi networks. Soon, PNM for cable industry optical networks will integrate seamlessly with traditional industry network health solutions.

In addition to PNM, we have delivered Dual Channel Wi-Fi™, which enables a 10G reliable Wi-Fi connection by ensuring optimized delivery of data services used in video, gaming, large file downloads, and time-sensitive services like video conferencing. A Dual Channel Wi-Fi reference implementation is currently available to the operators and vendors.

Looking into 2020

The connectivity catalyst of the future needs to occur across many spaces, including cyberspace, geospace, and electromagnetic space and it will all be coming to you in a virtualized cloud-native form. Technologies need to evolve to meet the vision through cost-effective solutions; wired, wireless, fixed, mobile, terrestrial, satellite, HAPS, unlicensed, licensed, low-band, high band, low-speed, high-speed, will all play a role to meet the demand of humans and things.

Over the past year, the industry has worked to create and introduce technologies that bring us one step closer to the promise of a 10G network, and are excited by the progress we have made. At CableLabs, we are excited about 10G and are actively involved with 5G, IEEE, and many other industry forums which are also working on advancing the future of connectivity.


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Energy

Canada Launches a Small Network Equipment Voluntary Agreement

Debbie Fitzgerald
Technology Policy Director

Dec 19, 2019

CableLabs is pleased to announce that an energy efficiency voluntary agreement for Small Network Equipment (SNE) was launched today in Canada. This is the second category of equipment in the Canadian Energy Efficiency Voluntary Agreement (CEEVA) program, which was initiated in 2017 to improve the energy efficiency of Set-Top Boxes (STB).

The new CEEVA SNE, which was developed in partnership with Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), provincial governments and utilities, commits leading service providers and manufacturers to improving the energy efficiency of devices like Internet modems and routers by 2021. It is based on the highly successful SNE Voluntary Agreement in the US that was established in 2015 and has achieved an average 66 percent improvement in energy efficiency of the SNE purchased and deployed by its signatories since its launch.

The CEEVA SNE signatories to date are:

  • Bell Canada
  • COGECO Connexion Inc.
  • CommScope, Inc. of North Carolina
  • Rogers Communications Canada Inc.
  • Shaw Communications Inc.
  • Vidéotron LTD
  • Technicolor Connected Home USA LLC

In CEEVA SNE, the service providers commit that 90 percent of their new SNE purchased will meet the energy efficiency levels beginning in 2021. The levels will align with the more rigorous Tier 2 levels that were established in the US SNE VA when it was extended last year, so Canada is skipping Tier 1 and going right to Tier 2. (In the US, Tier 2 will go into effect in 2020.) As with CEEVA STB, compliance is determined through independent testing and auditing, and the service providers will also publicly post the power consumption of all models purchased after January 1, 2020.

Programs such as CEEVA and the US Voluntary Agreements are very important to keep energy efficiency a design priority, yet provide the agility required to rapidly innovate on these platforms.  A voluntary approach to improve energy efficiency has been proven to be an effective alternative to regulation. This is even more important as we head into a 10G world.

Four of the five CEEVA service provider signatories are cable operators and CableLabs members, and CableLabs provides significant leadership in the CEEVA program. In addition, Kyrio is ISO-17025 accredited to conduct the energy testing for set-top boxes and small network equipment, and supports the CEEVA signatories with their testing expertise.

Internet services provided by the CEEVA signatories also help to save energy by enabling e-commerce, telecommuting, smart thermostats and lighting. By standing up this new voluntary agreement, these companies are further advancing their commitments to Canada’s shared energy efficiency and climate change objectives.

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Wireless

RadSec, Securing RADIUS Message Exchange

Luther Smith
Director, Wireless Technology

Dec 17, 2019

With the ever-increasing use of mobile devices for data-rich activities, mobile networks have felt the burden of handling larger amounts of data. To gain relief, mobile operators have turned to offloading data onto Wi-Fi networks that are locally available—not only their own networks but Wi-Fi networks owned by their roaming partners. If the roaming partner’s Wi-Fi network is secured, then the subscriber’s credentials are exchanged between the roaming partner and the home operator, typically over the Internet. These credentials need to be secured while traversing the Internet, and the most common method is to use IPSec secure tunnels. Although IPSec secures and encrypts this critical information over the Internet, IPSec is not without issues and risks.

One issue is that the information is encrypted only from firewall to firewall, leaving the data unencrypted within both operator networks. In addition, setting up IPSec can be cumbersome because of the amount of work typically involved and the number of individuals, which can include the server administrator, network administrator, firewall administrator and security individuals. There’s also the issue of performing key exchanges and testing the connections; the entire process is repeated if either end of the connection needs to be altered, resulting in downtime.

A Solution to These Issues Is RADIUS Security (RadSec)

Although RadSec is still a draft specification within the IEEE (RadSec profile for RADIUS), it’s based on TLS RFC 6614 “Transport Layer Security (TLS) Encryption for RADIUS,” which enables the securing and encrypting of RADIUS messages between the RADIUS client and server. RadSec ensures that all RADIUS messages are secured and encrypted not only when they’re sent over the Internet but also when they’re deeper within each operator’s network, starting with the client and server. Because RadSec is based on TLS, the client and server are mutually authenticated at connection time, ensuring a trusted connection by chaining the certificates to a trusted Root Certificate. By using certificates, the revocation of certificates can be used to eliminate unauthorized connections. In addition, TLS offers encryption of the RADIUS exchange. Encrypting the exchange prevents the exposure of sensitive subscriber information at all points between client and server—within the roaming partner’s network, over the Internet and within the mobile operator’s network—making the entire path secure.

RadSec is flexible and scalable. With RadSec, the client or server IP addresses can be altered without having to reconfigure the secure tunnel settings, as is the case with IPSec. The number of peering clients and servers can also be increased as needed based on operational requirements—without requiring additional work to establish new secure tunnels. This flexibility contributes to RadSec’s scalability. With traditional secure tunnels, if additional roaming partnerships formed, firewalls need to be set up to support the new tunnels. With RadSec, at the most, firewall access control lists (ACLs) would need to be updated to allow traffic from and to the new partner; the same certificate can be used for all roaming partnership connections.

Based on the benefits of RadSec, CableLabs has led the work in Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) to introduce RadSec to the WBA Wireless Roaming intermediary eXchange (WRiX).

For more information about RadSec, please contact Luther Smith (l.smith@cablelabs.com).

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Reliability

Data Elements and TR-181 – Connect to the PNM Data You Need

Josh Redmore
Principal Architect, Wireless Research & Development

Dec 11, 2019

Remote Wi-Fi troubleshooting is the keystone of good customer experience and reduced support costs. The ultimate iteration of this is a fully automated proactive network maintenance system, where Wi-Fi issues are resolved before they impact your customer. When Wi-Fi becomes self-healing, customers enjoy seamless access to your services. The first steps to enable this bright future have already been taken.

Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Data Elements™ Extends TR-181

Earlier this year, CableLabs led the effort in the Wi-Fi Alliance to build and launch Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Data Elements, which established a standardized data model to capture those key performance indicators necessary for remote Wi-Fi troubleshooting. Certifications are now available through Wi-Fi Alliance authorized test labs, and we anticipate the first Data Elements capable customer presence equipment in early 2020. But capturing this data is meaningless without a way to transport it out of the home. In September, the Broadband Forum helped us take the next major step by adopting Data Elements into TR-181.

TR-181 is a device data model that encompasses a variety of CPE configuration and monitoring parameters and has been very successful in the remote configuration of cable modems. Data Elements extends TR-181 to the Wi-Fi domain with meaningful, actionable information that is specifically targeted at remote troubleshooting. This includes layer 1 & 2 information from attached client devices and neighboring networks, giving you an unprecedented view deep into your customer’s network and beyond. Normally, we think of remote troubleshooting data as covering only the gateway’s perspective. By capturing and analyzing the behavior of the attached clients, you can identify and resolve long distance issues such as hidden nodes or external interference sources.

TR-181 with Data Elements is now available for both the widely-deployed TR-069 and USP – the next-generation advanced remote management utility.

Please contact Josh Redmore (j.redmore@cablelabs.com) for more information on how to get involved with Data Elements and TR-181.

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Innovation

ChirpStack: The New Open Source LoRa Server

Daryl Malas
Principal Architect, Advanced Technology Group

Dec 5, 2019

Over the past couple of years, CableLabs and Orne Brocaar have introduced multiple major releases of the LoRa® Server, a community led open source LoRaWAN® network server. The goal of this effort is to provide a powerful tool for enabling LPWAN services using unlicensed bands worldwide. The server is licensed under the MIT license, so it can be used freely for any use from testing to production. Our objective continues to focus on enabling growth and creativity in the LPWAN ecosystem using the LoRaWAN protocol.

We are excited to announce that LoRa Server has been renamed ChirpStack™. What does this rebranding mean for our community of users? Well, nothing really, with exception of assuming a new name. The server continues to provide the functions, capability, LoRa Alliance® compliance and MIT licensing it always has. However, the name and URL location of the resources has changed.

The ChirpStack software, source-code and documentation are now available here: https://www.chirpstack.io. The discussion forum is now available here: https://forum.chirpstack.io

LoRa Server renamed ChirpStack

Since its debut in 2016, the LoRa Server project has gained a lot of traction and is now being used by thousands of users from (currently) 144 countries around the world. And, we fully expect the ChirpStack project will continue to serve this user base with valuable tools, software, and discussion.

“Solutions built on Semtech’s LoRa devices offer the real potential to change the world by delivering analytical insight into how we live and work today. To create a smarter tomorrow, developers working with LoRa devices and the LoRaWAN protocol need access to easy-to-use accelerators that help drive applications to market more quickly,” said Alistair Fulton, Vice President and General Manager of Semtech’s Wireless and Sensing Products Group. “CableLabs and its ChirpStack software have contributed to the growth of LoRaWAN, creating value to the ecosystem by helping to simplify the IoT development process and enable the creation of new, innovative products for the next generation of use cases.”

We have automated the renaming process in the lastest version as much as possible, and we hope this migration will only be a nominal inconvenience. A full list of considerations and changes have been provided on the forum. If you experience any challenges with this migration, please communicate issues and feedback on the forum.

In the latest release(s) you will find a lot of interesting new features. Using NetID filters it is possible to reduce the bandwidth usage of your gateways. This is useful when you are using a cellular backhaul. We have also made it easier to correlate log messages across the different components, which will help when troubleshooting issues as they occur. To increase the geolocation accuracy, we have added support to perform geolocation on multiple uplink frames. We will continue to improve and add new features and we are looking forward to your feedback and contributions to the ChirpStack project.

Note: LoRa is a registered trademark or service mark of Semtech Corporation or its affiliates.

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