prpl Foundation and CableLabs collaborate on Mobile Wi-Fi technology

Nov. 21, 2022
The collaboration brings CableLabs’ Mobile Wi-Fi technology one step closer to full adoption as an open-source implementation in the prplMesh Wi-Fi software stack.
Prpl Cablelabs

The prpl Foundation, an open-source technology community dedicated to enabling carrier-grade software for broadband consumer premise equipment (CPE) applications, today announced that CableLabs has joined the foundation, with an aim to collaborate on the implementation of Mobile Wi-Fi technology to provide seamless Wi-Fi connectivity for mobile devices.

The collaboration brings CableLabs’ Mobile Wi-Fi technology a step closer to full adoption as an open-source implementation in the prplMesh Wi-Fi software stack.

The prplMesh software stack is a compliant open-source implementation of the Wi-Fi Alliance’s Wi-Fi CERTIFIED EasyMesh® open industry standard protocol for Wi-Fi mesh networks. prpl enables a service delivery ecosystem including innovative third-party applications that can be quickly and easily deployed across different CPE platforms.

Technology value proposition

Wi-Fi users often encounter poor performance when their smartphones and other mobile devices connect to a suboptimal Wi-Fi access point when better access points are available. As a result, users experience poor connections and often abandon their Wi-Fi connection in favor of their cellular service. To address this problem, CableLabs has developed Mobile Wi-Fi, which manages a collection of Wi-Fi access points that allows the roaming of a mobile device to the best access point available. This collection of otherwise independent access points acts as a single contiguous network, much like a cellular network, with devices being handed off seamlessly from one access point to another.

Steve Arendt of CableLabs noted:

“With the latest Mobile Wi-Fi technology, there is no longer a need for a mobile device to form a new Wi-Fi connection when it moves from one access point to another. Instead, a device will keep the same Wi-Fi connection to its own unique virtual network, which will follow the user as they move about a house, street or neighborhood.”

In a recent blog post for CableLabs, Arendt further explains Mobile Wi-Fi technology:

Instead of asking the phone to reconnect to a different AP, CableLabs Mobile Wi-Fi moves the network itself to the new AP. It does this using a virtual Basic Service Set, or VBSS. A VBSS is a network set up exclusively for use by one device and can be moved from AP to AP without the device disconnecting and reconnecting. This makes the transitions between APs seamless and transparent to the phone.

So now, as you walk around your house with your device, the CableLabs Mobile Wi-Fi controller is moving your VBSS such that it follows along with you, hopping from one AP to another as you go. If you wander too far and go outside the range of all your APs (like when you drive away in your car), the CableLabs Mobile Wi-Fi controller detects this, closes your connection and tears down your VBSS so that your phone immediately knows there is no longer a Wi-Fi connection. The phone will then immediately switch to cellular data.

The result is that your device will be consistently connected to the best available AP in your space.

The prpl Foundation brings together service providers, original equipment manufacturers, system integrators, chip vendors and application developers to harmonize home network architecture, then commonizes a reference implementation of standardized open-source infrastructure built atop open APIs and open industry standards. 

Read the CableLabs blog, "CableLabs Brings Mobile Wi-Fi’s Power to Wi-Fi Industry for a Better User Experience."

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