Swedish start-up Anyfi takes 'a different approach' to carrier Wi-Fi system

Swedish start-up Anyfi Networks says its Wi-Fi architecture is very much inspired by software-defined networking (SDN) principles. The company announced this week the general availability of its Carrier Wi-Fi System.

In fact, the company says its system was developed in close cooperation with several of the world's Tier 1 operators over the last four years.

At first glance the feature set looks much like that available from several competing vendors in the carrier Wi-Fi space: radio link-level admission control, airtime fairness, optimized handovers, advanced traffic prioritization and an analytics platform for near real-time quality of experience monitoring, the company said in a press release.

However, what sets Anyfi's product apart is its scalability and support for a wide range of access points. "Carrier Wi-Fi is typically about expensive access points coupled with be-all, end-all management systems," said Björn Smedman, CEO of Anyfi Networks, in the release.

"We've taken a very different approach: Our customers typically already have thousands if not millions of access points installed in consumer homes and small businesses, and that equipment is already remotely managed e.g. with TR-069," he said. "What they want is to deploy a carrier Wi-Fi service across that infrastructure, and extending it with lower cost access points where needed. Our system lets them do that."

If pressed to name its most direct competitor, Smedman told FierceWirelessTech that popular perception often points to FON, but the company's founders don't think that's a real good comparison. Anyfi manages the radio more akin to what you'd find in a carrier-class access point, providing admission controls and other features, he said.

Before founding Anyfi, Smedman and Anyfi Networks CTO Johan Almbladh shared a background in physics and attended the same university before working independently for a couple of years. They then came back together, having recognized early on that capacity was going to be a problem in cellular networks.

It was apparent to them that the Wi-Fi systems that already were deployed in consumer homes and businesses would serve an important part of the solution to the capacity problem, and they started working on how to leverage residential and corporate Wi-Fi for mobile offload, Smedman said. Anyfi was founded in 2009.

Anyfi says it offers greater security by tunneling the raw encrypted Wi-Fi traffic. (Image source: Anyfi Networks)

Smedman said Anyfi's solution solves the security aspects better than some other solutions that are being deployed by cable companies. Anyfi keeps the encryption all the way from the device to a trusted location; it doesn't terminate at the access point, which could be in the hands of an untrusted source.

The company employs fewer than 10 people, but because it's a pure software company, it can get a lot done without a large staff, he said.

Anyfi isn't naming names when it comes to potential or existing customers due to non-disclosure agreements, but it is working "quite actively" with some operators in Canada. U.S. operators are, of course, "more than welcome," he said.

The company says that Broadcom, Qualcomm Atheros, Ralink or Realtek platform and on-site integration assistance is provided worldwide as part of agreements with operators. 

For more:
- see this press release

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