Cambium expands Facebook Express Wi-Fi technology alliance to include self-organizing mesh access technology

Cambium Networks announced that it is expanding its collaboration with Facebook by integrating Facebook’s self-organizing mesh access technology into their cnPilot portfolio of indoor and outdoor of Wi-Fi Solutions.

Express Wi-Fi is a platform that enables service providers and mobile network operators to build, operate, grow, and monetize their Wi-Fi business in a sustainable and scalable way. Facebook is partnering with service providers and operators to provide people with fast, affordable, and reliable access to the internet over Wi-Fi. Through this program, service providers partner with local communities and local entrepreneurs to extend Wi-Fi coverage.

Facebook’s Express Wi-Fi has been helping operators and local entrepreneurs provide fast and affordable Wi-Fi to their communities. Wi-Fi networks tend to be hard to set up and expensive to deploy, especially when trying to cover an entire town, neighborhood, or village. For example, two major pain points for larger Wi-Fi networks are managing the many network devices and ensuring the network has adequate and reliable backhaul capacity to the broader internet.

In early 2017, Facebook started developing and testing some possible solutions to these problems by allowing multiple Wi-Fi access points to mesh with each other, exchange information and carry backhaul traffic — without requiring a separate physical backhaul connection at each place an operator might want to provide access.

The technology we are developing is pushing the boundaries of what’s possible for Wi-Fi networks. We’re excited to continue improving the technology with the goal of sharing it with more partners around the world, wrote Vish Ponnampalam, the social media giant’s wireless systems engineer in a Facebook post.

Facebook’s self-organizing, self-healing mesh Wi-Fi technology reduces the need for operators to spend time manually configuring their networks. In the event that an access point (AP) goes offline, this Wi-Fi mesh technology uses its self-healing functionality to automatically reconfigure the mesh to work around the Wi-Fi AP that is down and reconfigures the mesh to operate via the remaining meshed APs or gateway APs. The self-organizing mesh access technology is designed to scale to more than 50 Wi-Fi APs.

“As an operator, we are excited to see two technology companies coming together to make mesh-based Wi-Fi networks a reality,” said a spokesperson from CellC, a Facebook Express Wi-Fi partner in South Africa. “Facebook brings new technologies, tools and business models that help bring people online to a faster internet, and Cambium Networks brings its cost effective and proven wireless innovation.”

“cnPilot indoor and outdoor networks were designed for fast setup and rapid deployment, without the need for significant upfront investment,” said Rad Sethuraman, Cambium’s vice president for enterprise product management. “Facebook’s self-organizing mesh access technology with its smart mesh routing algorithm and ability to optimize Layer 3 connectivity, is a natural fit. This capability enables network operators to have multiple wireless options for Wi-Fi backhaul connectivity, including standards-based WDS mesh, point-to-point (PTP), point-to-multipoint (PMP) and now an enhanced self-organizing mesh network.”

“Enabling a mesh enhancement feature, on cnPilot Wi-Fi APs builds on our successful partnership with Facebook to bring Express Wi-Fi solutions to service providers and mobile network operators around the world,” said Chetan Hebbalae, senior director of Business Development. “A self-organizing mesh enabled cnPilot Wi-Fi network can speed up network expansion and increase overall network availability by sidestepping the need for individually backhauling Wi-Fi APs, significantly reducing capital and operational costs.”

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