A Look Inside the Wi-Fi Certification Process
By Zeenath Venkata
Essential for home networking, public Internet connectivity and the Internet of Things, Wi-Fi® is also indispensable for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT). For example, a leading developer of intelligent robot solutions utilizes a Lantronix Wi-Fi gateway to connect smart robots for logistics and warehousing applications. With its powerful built-in network communications engine, the Wi-Fi gateway ensures reliable and robust performance in a wide range of environmental conditions. Best of all, it reduced application development time, speeding time-to-market.
With the global economic value of Wi-Fi expected to reach nearly $3.5 trillion USD by 2023, billions of Wi-Fi-certified devices, including Lantronix’s Wi-Fi gateways, are shipped each year. This is a testament to the success of the WFA’s dedication to ensuring Wi-Fi interoperability across vendors around the globe and to the WFA’s vision of “connecting everyone and everything, everywhere.”
What does it mean to be Wi-Fi certified, and why is it a big deal?
Formed in 1999, the WFA created its Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ program in 2000. Today, it is an internationally recognized seal of approval for Wi-Fi products, indicating that they have met industry-agreed standards for interoperability, security and a range of application-specific protocols. To become Wi-Fi certified, products must undergo rigorous testing by the WFA’s independent Authorized Test Laboratories.
Attaining Wi-Fi certification means that a product has been tested in numerous configurations to validate interoperability with other Wi-Fi CERTIFIED equipment operating in the same frequency band. It also serves to improve product quality by exposing software bugs.
When a product successfully passes testing, the manufacturer or vendor (which must be a WFA member) is granted the right to use the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED logo.
What is involved in Wi-Fi Certification?
Wi-Fi certification involves three key areas of testing:
- Interoperability is the primary target of certification. Rigorous test cases are used to ensure that products from different equipment vendors can interoperate in a wide variety of configurations.
- Backward compatibility must be preserved to allow for new products to work with existing equipment. Backward compatibility protects valuable investments in legacy Wi-Fi products and enables users to gradually upgrade and expand their networks.
- Certification programs allow newer technology and specifications to come to market.
How do Lantronix products get Wi-Fi CERTIFIED?
Lantronix Wi-Fi products are tested as specified by the WFA test plans at Authorized Testing Labs. These tests include vendor chipset and product interoperability, adherence to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) specifications and an overall positive user experience.
Following the tests, logs are gathered, and any bugs are repaired. Then the tests are re-run to ensure that bugs were correctly repaired and that the Lantronix products will receive a passing result. Then, the product is submitted to a WFA for certification. Once the product aces the WFA tests, the Lantronix product is officially Wi-Fi CERTIFIED.
Advantages of Being Wi-Fi CERTIFIED
Certified Wi-Fi interoperability provides benefits to everyone in the value chain, including lower return rates, reduced support costs, higher user satisfaction and increased sales volumes. It also ensures interoperability across the more than 50,000 products that have been Wi-Fi certified since the program launched in 2000.
Among the thousands of Wi-Fi-certified products are Lantronix’s xPico 200 series of embedded Wi-Fi gateways. Some of the advantages of using a Wi-Fi-certified Lantronix gateway module in your product design include:
- Cost Savings. Saves on lab costs and certification fees.
- Time Savings. Speeds up the product development process, meaning a faster time to market.
- Improved Product Testing. Wi-Fi Certification on Lantronix IoT gateways helps companies with their own Wi-Fi testing by helping to ensure that their products can meet the WFA’s rigorous testing methods.
Bottom line, Wi-Fi certification is important because it gives you the confidence that the embedded Wi-Fi product you choose has met the WFA’s stringent testing standards, including delivering the interoperability it claims. As a result, you won’t need to test every smartphone, laptop and tablet to see if it can connect to your wireless Lantronix IoT gateway modules.
Lantronix Certified Embedded IoT Gateways
Lantronix manufactures and sells a wide range of gateways with built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, all of which are Wi-Fi certified. Our xPico 200 series, which includes the xPico 240, xPico 250 and xPico 270, are ideal for a wide variety of applications, including industrial automation, medical devices, retail and resource management.
For example, the XPico 240 is used in industrial weighing scales that deliver smart connectivity at grocery stories to communicate accurate weight and pricing information on hundreds of items to point-of-sale systems. For more, see the case study here.
As Wi-Fi capabilities expand, so will those of Lantronix’s gateway products. In fact, the WFA recently deemed that the Lantronix xPico 200 series has met the required criteria and was officially granted the Wi-Fi certificate that supports both personal and enterprise security.
With Lantronix’s dedication to Wi-Fi certification for all its products, you can rest assured that all Lantronix products will be reliably and securely interoperable for years to come.
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Benefits of Wi-Fi Certification
|Audience||Benefits of Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Equipment|
|Chipset designers, Original Design Manufacturers (ODMs)||Interoperability among Wi-Fi CERTIFIED equipment opens a large addressable market for Wi-Fi chipset designers and ODMs, where economies of scale can significantly bring costs down. Wi-Fi integration in devices with multiple wireless interfaces is an emerging and attractive market for chipset designers and ODMs and one that requires certified devices, as interoperability is an essential requirement.|
|Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) of networking equipment and consumer electronics||Certification helps ensure interoperability with other equipment vendors’ products and allows OEMs a further measure to test quality in their equipment before introducing it into the market, thus reducing overall support costs. Wi-Fi CERTIFIED branding enables worldwide recognition and facilitates entry into new markets.|
|Application developers||The global reach of Wi-Fi means that applications that support Wi-Fi can be marketed worldwide, lowering development costs and enlarging the addressable market. Wi-Fi Alliance certification programs such as WMM, WMM Power Save, and Wi-Fi Protected Setup provide additional functionality that enables application developers to bring more advanced applications to market.|
|Service providers||Certification brings interoperability to large-scale deployments. Support for Wi-Fi devices is streamlined, even in multi-vendor deployments, helping to contain costs. High awareness of the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED brand among subscribers and can increase marketing impact of new product offerings.|
|Retailers||The Wi-Fi CERTIFIED logo is conducive to higher sales and higher customer satisfaction, supporting lower return rates and customer service costs. It also helps sales representatives to direct customers to the appropriate product and to identify the functionality it supports.|
|Consumer users||Wi-Fi CERTIFIED is a trusted brand that offers interoperability, standards-based security, and easy installation. It is an assurance that an independent third party has tested the product in numerous configurations and with a diverse sampling of other devices to ensure compatibility with other Wi-Fi CERTIFIED equipment.|
|Enterprise customers||Whether deploying a new infrastructure or integrating new equipment into an existing infrastructure, using Wi-Fi CERTIFIED products ensures interoperability of Wi-Fi products from multiple vendors. Fewer network problems and support calls are often additional advantages of using Wi-Fi CERTIFIED products.|
Source: Wi-Fi Alliance: https://www.wi-fi.org/certification/benefits