In the last couple of years the WiFi industry has been going through a supply chain disruption. While the pandemic has been a rare event, it showed how fragile the ecosystem is and how hard it is to adapt quickly to increase or decrease in demand. System vendors have experienced very long lead times – 1 year was not uncommon for the key components.
Service providers were faced with increased demand from work at home, but uncertain demand from office buildings. On a vertical by vertical market it was not easy to project the demand. When the traditional vendor was not able to supply the right product what can the service provider do? They were faced with several unattractive choices:
- Wait for the supply, forego business and “manage” customer expectations. Who wants to do that?
- Try to get a new Access Point supplier but that is very hard, because traditional vendors tie their software and management to their own hardware and to replace the software it takes many months of testing, validation and learning and after that end up with multiple different unconnected platforms
- Order far beyond the time horizon where the service provider has new revenue visibility with the associated financial risks
With OpenWiFi the situation is much improved:
- There will be 6-10 different Access Point providers active in 2023, each with their own product portfolio
- OpenWiFi allows for interchangeable Access Points in the same network, one vendor’s Access Point in one room and another vendor’s Access Point in next room and the management and controller will treat these as coming from the same vendor
- OpenWiFi Access Points use chipsets from multiple vendors, also ensuring diversity at the chipset level
With the fresh memories of the consequences and challenges from the last supply chain disruption, we think many connectivity providers will take a look at OpenWiFi and when the next supply chain disruption occurs they will be better prepared.