In a new generation of wireless technology, the management of Wi-Fi network environments has become a focal point in the industry. In this Technology Brief, we examine how Wi-Fi Certified Agile Multiband™ improves the use of Wi-Fi network resources and responds to changing network conditions. Wi-Fi Agile Multiband is a new certification from the Wi-Fi Alliance that allows devices to make smarter choices and respond faster to home and enterprise network environments. These certified devices are able to dynamically exchange information in a network environment. While some vendors and manufacturers offer similar capabilities, the incorporation of Wi-Fi Agile Multiband makes this an industry standard, ensuring interoperability between infrastructure and client devices.
Better Resource Management, Better Wi-Fi Networks
We are in the golden age of connectivity with Wi-Fi enabled devices being manufactured in the millions. With the multitudes of Wi-Fi enabled client devices, such as mobile phones, tablets, and smart TVs, every device is competing for available resources. The increasing popularity of video streaming services and Wi-Fi calling adds to static and mobile network loads, therefore capacity and reliability becomes progressively vital to end users. To better manage these resources, access points certified under Wi-Fi Agile Multiband allow devices to make intelligent access point, band, and channel selection. When resources are managed efficiently, it leads to the improvement of congested bands and access points, minimizing service interruption and providing the best possible service even in a dynamic Wi-Fi setting. With these advancements, the Wi-Fi industry is able to deliver better technology in an efficient, consistent, and cost effective manner.
Fast, Dynamic, and Intelligent
By applying global standards, including IEEE 802.11 k, v, u, r, Wi-Fi Agile Multiband is a certification that combines, regulates, and improves network management across a range of manufacturers through a single definition. The following standards are key elements of Wi-Fi Agile Multiband:
- IEEE 802.11k –Provides information on neighbor APs to determine the best available access point when roaming. As a client is about to roam from its associated AP, it sends a request for a “Neighbor Report” that provides a list of available APs and associated information. The client can then identify the best AP to which it can roam without having to scan all channels. This standard aids clients to roam quickly and efficiently, as well as avoiding the situation where a client might roam to a close AP with excessive traffic and reduced throughput.
- IEEE 802.11v – Enables APs and client devices to exchange information about the current state of the network, with considerations for load balancing, client signal levels, and data rates. In addition, the standard provides various methods for network-assisted power saving to improve client battery life.
- IEEE 802.11u – Provides additional information about a Wi-Fi network including interworking between connected networks and roaming across a consortium of partner networks. This protocol allows clients to make a more-informed decision before joining a network, based more on the management of the network behind the access AP. The basic information is made available to clients through “information elements” contained in AP beacon frames, with additional information sent to clients upon request. For example, a network can advertise whether it is a private network, a free public network, or a for-fee public network, as well as venue type information and access options.
- IEEE 802.11r – An optional feature of Wi-Fi Agile Multiband that provides a method for fast transition roaming between APs, an important feature for delay-sensitive data such as voice and video streams. Before clients roam to a new AP, the initial handshake and encryptions calculations are performed in advance, which results in a fast hand off without the need for re-authentication.
With faster network transitions and authentication, users will be able to achieve improved mobility and a better experience with latency-sensitive applications. Dynamic network monitoring allows certified devices to identify the best access point, band, and channel in a constant parallel network information exchange. The introduction of the concept of intelligent steering allows access points to guide clients to actively seek out less congested networks, frequency bands, and channels to balance network traffic load and better meet each client’s management requests.
The Wi-Fi Agile Multiband certification is a standard that promises better connectivity between infrastructure and client devices. Activated devices will be able to rapidly seek out and maintain best connection whether the device is moving through a Wi-Fi network or in within a static location. Smart appliances and devices will be able to move seamlessly from 2.4GHz to 5.0 GHz and choose between the least congested networks. Wi-Fi Agile Multiband successfully establishes the Wi-Fi industry standard of smart network management and fuels further growth of internet and wireless technology.