OpenWiFi has been making waves as a community-developed, open, disaggregated Wi-Fi platform that offers a wealth of benefits to Service Providers and end-users alike. In this blog, we discuss the evolution of open networking into Wi-Fi technologies with key stakeholders Jack Raynor of the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) and Andrew Westerman of IO by HFCL. We dive into the transformative nature of OpenWiFi, its role in promoting diversity and avoiding vendor lock-in, and the future opportunities it presents for businesses.
Dispelling Myths About OpenWiFi
Contrary to popular belief, OpenWiFi is not an open and non-secure network. Instead, it is an open, disaggregated Wi-Fi platform consisting of an Access Point Network Operating System (AP NOS) firmware based on OpenWRT and a cloud SDK management and control plane. It offers industry-standard security, ensuring that users can connect without compromising their data.
The Transformative Nature of OpenWiFi
While the software itself may not be transformative, the community-driven model behind OpenWiFi is revolutionary for the Service Provider industry. It provides two key advantages:
- Choice: OpenWiFi allows for complete disaggregation at both the access point and management layers, preventing vendor lock-in and enabling operators to choose their hardware and software control plane makers.
- Direct participation: The open community enables operators to communicate their requirements, provide feedback, and influence features they need to market quickly.
The Role of OpenWiFi in TIP's Mission
The Telecom Infra Project's mission is to deploy open, disaggregated, and standards-based solutions that deliver high-quality connectivity. OpenWiFi contributes to this mission by promoting openness, diversity, and disaggregation, ensuring that all community members have an equal opportunity to participate. This approach enables the deployment of communications capabilities in underserved areas and encourages innovation in hardware, deployments, and infrastructure.
Creating Geographic Supplier Diversity with OpenWiFi and HFCL
OpenWiFi and IO by HFCL offer geographic supplier diversity by providing alternatives to traditional manufacturing locations. HFCL, an Indian company, manufactures Wi-Fi access points and controllers in India, offering an alternative to Chinese-oriented products. This diversity helps to address issues caused by national lockdowns, tariffs, and political uncertainties.
Success and Challenges with OpenWiFi
OpenWiFi has seen initial success in the hospitality and Multi Dwelling Unit (MDU) verticals due to their nimbleness and ease of upgrading. Future success is anticipated in areas like venues, Wi-Fi 7, convergence technologies, and AI on the management plane (AI Ops). However, challenges persist in growing the community, enhancing the software, and ensuring satisfaction among community members.
Long-Term Perspectives on OpenWiFi
HFCL and other community members are committed to supporting the OpenWiFi initiative long-term, with plans to launch Wi-Fi 7 and continue offering open access points and controllers. The flexibility, cost savings, and supplier diversity offered by OpenWiFi make it an attractive option for Service Providers and enterprises looking to embrace open networking.
OpenWiFi is a transformative approach to wireless networking that offers significant benefits to Service Providers and end-users. With a strong community-driven model, it enables choice, flexibility, and innovation while avoiding vendor lock-in and promoting geographic supplier diversity. As the industry continues to evolve, OpenWiFi is poised to play a significant role in shaping the future of wireless networking.