A WiFi Access Gateway, or a Wireless Access Gateway, is an element in a network that serves to route data packets from a wireless LAN to another network, be it a wired or wireless WAN. In today’s network architecture, WAGs can be implemented as hardware or software (which we call virtual WAG, or vWAG).
WAGs combine the functions of a wireless access point, a router, and often provide firewall functions. In addition, they provide network address translation (NAT) functionality and dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP), which allows multiple users to connect to the internet with a single public IP and to automatically assign IPs to devices connected to a network.
Essentially, WAGs help service providers manage traffic and apply subscriber policies.
Why is a WAG important for connectivity?
WAGs add new capabilities to the WiFi network while simplifying overall administration. WAGs assist with user authentication and can dynamically provide per-user policies for bandwidth, QoS, traffic routing, and security. A WAG can be viewed as a combination of WiFi controller, router, DHCP server, and firewall – all integrated into one solution.
Essentially, WAGs make it possible to better manage traffic and bandwidth allocation, apply subscriber policies, improve mobility, and dramatically increase security.
Who needs a WAG?
WAG can be used in a variety of deployments & uses cases including Public & Community (Hotspot) WiFi, Education, Mobile Network Offload, Smart Cities, Venue WiFi, Hospitality WiFi, Multi-Dwelling Units (MDU), and more.
Key requirements that WAGs often fill are:
Enabling disparate WiFi networks or hotspots across a large number of branches or locations to behave like one unified, managed network
Handling large volumes of guest WiFi users with fast-mobility and carrier-grade NAT
Enabling dynamic micro-segmentation of the network for better traffic control and security
Adding capabilities untenable in WiFi APs, like deep-packet inspection, content filtering, parental filtering, malware and phishing protection, firewall, and advanced hierarchical bandwidth management.
What can vWAGs do for digital transformation?
WAGs make it possible to:
Segment traffic within an access point (AP)
Offload mobile traffic
Implement subscriber services
Authentication, authorization, and accounting (AAA)
Hierarchical quality of service (HQoS)
Class of service (CoS)
From a big picture perspective, WAGs, particularly vWAGs, make it easier for teams to be more versatile and dynamic with their network management and changes/releases. vWAGs also offer incredible promise for edge computing, uCPE adoption, and more.
What value can vWAG & WAG bring to your customers?
A WAG empowers operators and service providers to be flexible and agile in expanding their product offerings, and for customers this is a huge deal. WAGs make it possible for consumers to be able to subscribe to new services like WiFi Hotspots, managed business networks, managed home networks, and so much more. Many of these services cultivate customer loyalty and build customer advocates that can help expand an organizations reach.
a WAG makes it possible to build a network that is flexible and frictionless for customers, and ultimately provides the ability to evolve with the needs of your customers.
If your team is looking to transition to a WAG or vWAG – let us know! We’d be happy to lend a hand.