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Wi-Fi news from Spirent Communications

Acquisition of octoScope, Inc.

Combination that firmly establishes Spirent as the Wi-Fi test leader

London, UK – 5 March 2021 – Spirent Communications plc (LSE:SPT), the leading provider of test, assurance, and analytics solutions for next-generation devices and networks, today announces that it has acquired octoScope, Inc (octoScope) from the founder Fanny Mlinarsky, management and other investors, for an initial cash consideration of $55 million on a debt and cash free basis, with an additional consideration capped at $18 million based on annual revenue growth targets for 2021 and 2022 and retention of key staff. The acquisition will be funded from existing cash resources.

Founded in 2006, octoScope is a US-based technology company that provides market-leading accurate, repeatable and automated wireless test solutions and methodologies to the wireless industry. Its test solutions leverage patented technology to provide automated Wi-Fi and 5G testing in emulated real-world environments, including the latest Wi-Fi 6 and 6E technologies. octoScope’s products are used by a blue-chip roster of leading global communication service providers, chipset, device, network infrastructure and Wi-Fi equipment vendors including: Google, Facebook, Verizon, Qualcomm, Nokia, Amazon, Philips and Sony.

This complementary acquisition is in line with Spirent’s targeted investment and M&A plans outlined at its Capital Markets Day in October 2020, securing a broader assurance opportunity and expanding our diversified customer base. octoScope will be incorporated into our Lifecycle Service Assurance operating segment along with our emerging Wi-Fi revenue stream currently residing in our high-speed Ethernet business within the Networks & Security operating segment.

The gross assets of octoScope at 31 December 2019 were $11.6 million. Revenue in the year to 31 December 2019 was $17.4 million and profit before tax was $4.5 million. Revenue grew to around $20 million for 2020, subject to audit. The business has a history of delivering robust growth and we expect that to continue.

Wi-Fi sits alongside 5G as a critical next-generation wireless access technology. With the explosive growth in the Internet of Things, the emergence of new mission-critical use cases in sectors such as healthcare and industry, and expansion of applications including fixed wireless access and Wi-Fi offload, the importance of reliable and secure Wi-Fi is greater than ever. Wi-Fi applications continue to grow on the back of a robust technology roadmap (Wi-Fi 6/6E/7), the rise in remote working and expansion into new frequency bands around the world.

Spirent already has a strong position in the Wi-Fi and 5G test markets and the combination of octoScope with our existing portfolio firmly establishes Spirent as the Wi-Fi test leader. It also provides opportunities to extend the capabilities of our 5G solutions and offer new and differentiated services to our customers through our global channels.

Commenting on the acquisition, Eric Updyke, Chief Executive Officer, said: “Having firmly outlined our M&A intentions at our Capital Markets Day in October, I am delighted to welcome octoScope to the Spirent family. The need for reliable and secure Wi-Fi is greater than ever and our teams look forward to working together to address an increasing range of complex Wi-Fi challenges for our customers.”

“This acquisition supports our strategy of sustainable, profitable growth by establishing Spirent as the firm market leader in the expanding Wi-Fi space, adding to our 5G solution portfolio. octoScope brings to us an impressive and well-known customer base, providing us with the opportunity to further leverage our established global routes to market and trusted relationships with our key accounts.

By:Abu Islam

November 23, 2020 · 3 min read

Wi-Fi coverage and cybersecurity becomes mission critical for patient care and workflows. Read how rigorous testing ensures reliable Healthcare provider networks and secure Wi-Fi connectivity to prevent services interruptions.

In a previous blog, we discussed the various benefits Wi-Fi 6 is offering healthcare providers. In this sequel, get a closer look at Wi-Fi device and network testing considerations for this sector.

Testing Healthcare Provider Networks and Devices

Compliance to local regulations, such as FDA 510k certification and IEEE/ANSI Wi-Fi C63.27 standard in the US, require medical device manufacturers to ensure the functionality and safety of their devices through rigorous testing. In addition, healthcare facilities must test their Wi-Fi network regularly to:

  • Ensure ubiquitous Wi-Fi coverage and performance for the entire facility:
    Physicians and clinical staff require access to Electronic Medical Records (EMR) and medical images via handheld devices or computer on wheels (COW). Pharmaceutical orders and clinical procedures are also carried out wirelessly to help make workflows more efficient, all of which requires reliable Wi-Fi networking.
  • On-board a wide range of wireless devices:
    Hospital beds, infusion pumps, ventilators and many other devices send life-saving alarms to patient monitoring stations over the Wi-Fi network. Their continuous operation is essential regardless of Wi-Fi network congestion or unwanted RF interference.
  • Reproduce field conditions and modeling “what if” scenarios:
    Healthcare facilities are built with inhomogeneous wall structures for operating rooms, X-ray rooms, patient wards and visitor lobbies. Using advanced tools in a laboratory, RF characteristics of a hospital along with potential interference sources can be modeled to test out range and roaming functionality under varying conditions, prior to installation of Access Points.
  • Assure service performance and QoE for end-users:
    The Wi-Fi network of healthcare facilities serves a wide range of use cases for physicians, clinical staffs, patients, and visitors. While physicians need access to critical healthcare applications that require high bandwidth, patients and visitors require convenient access to Wi-Fi network using BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices) without compromising the network security.
  • Test network security and vulnerability:
    To ensure a safe wireless and wired network throughout the entire facility.

A joint cybersecurity advisory, coauthored by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was issued on Oct 28, 2020, and shared the following findings:

  • Malicious cyber actors are targeting the Healthcare and Public Health (HPH) Sector with TrickBot and BazarLoader malware, often leading to ransomware attacks, data theft, and the disruption of healthcare services.
  • These issues will be particularly challenging for organizations within the COVID-19 pandemic; therefore, administrators will need to balance this risk when determining their cybersecurity investments.

Similar concerns were echoed by the INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock in early 2020:

“As hospitals and medical organizations around the world are working non-stop to preserve the well-being of individuals stricken with coronavirus, they have become targets for ruthless cybercriminals looking to make a profit at the expense of sick patients.”

Unfortunately, there has been an increased number of cases, which resulted in various forms of services interruptions at hospitals and clinics, even to an extent that critically ill patients had to be re-routed to other facilities, globally. With this backdrop, it is more vital than ever that healthcare providers assess their network’s vulnerability, perform network penetration testing, including compliance testing of Wi-Fi security protocols (e.g. WPA3, WPA2) and web authentication like secured use of Captive Portals.

Assuring Reliable and Secure Connectivity for Healthcare Providers

As Wi-Fi coverage becomes mission critical for patient care and workflows, it is important to ensure healthcare provider Wi-Fi networks are up to the tasks. Yet improving and optimizing Wi-Fi network and device performance for unique healthcare provider deployment scenarios can be complex.

Learn about the latest test solutions for Wi-Fi turn up services and solutions specifically designed with healthcare providers in mind, including emulating hospital environments in a lab.

By:Abu Islam

November 17, 2020 · 4 min read

Benefits-of-Wi-Fi-6-for-Healthcare
An increasing number of medical devices enabled with Wi-Fi technology are entering the healthcare industry, ranging from simple applications to mission critical real-time applications. Blog outlines the market drivers for healthcare Wi-Fi networks.

Learn about market drivers for Healthcare Wi-Fi networks

A recently published Spirent eBook on the impact of COVID-19 on the Wi-Fi ecosystem discussed the effect of underlying factors such as the economy, business, government and consumer-behavior on Wi-Fi deployments and testing. While certain Wi-Fi market segments such as large public venues (LPV) and hospitality are still struggling to recover, the healthcare industry is facing altogether different challenges.

According to a recent report from Frost and Sullivan (April 2020), “Telehealth market in the US is estimated to display a staggering seven-fold growth by 2025, resulting in a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 38.2%. In 2020, the telehealth market is likely to experience a tsunami of growth, resulting in a year-over-year increase of 64.3%.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines Telehealth as the “delivery of health care services, where patients and providers are separated by distance. Telehealth uses ICT for the exchange of information for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and injuries, research and evaluation, and for the continuing education of health professionals.”

“Wi-Fi 6 helps solve the different challenges the healthcare industry is facing.”

Wi-Fi has been the preferred wireless technology of choice for decades in hospitals and clinics, globally. This is primarily because Wi-Fi offers technical advantages in indoor environments, and often, it’s the most cost-effective option for healthcare providers. As a result, an increasing number of medical devices enabled with Wi-Fi technology are entering the healthcare industry each year, ranging from simple applications to mission critical real-time applications (e.g. ubiquitous access to patient medical records).

With stringent regulatory requirements such as FDA 510k certification for product introduction in the U.S., patient safety and privacy concerns (e.g. HIPAA in the U.S., GDPR in Europe), and the need to provide patient care around the clock (24/7/365), it is understandable that new technology adoption takes longer for the healthcare industry. However, the various new features and promises offered by Wi-Fi 6, are providing a great motivation for healthcare providers to think seriously about upgrading their devices and networks.

Benefits of Wi-Fi 6 for Healthcare Providers

Wi-Fi 6 offers several benefits over legacy standards such as Wi-Fi 5/4. Key features include Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) for Downlink and Uplink (DL/UL), Multi-user Multiple Input and Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) for DL/UL, Target Wake Time (TWT) among others.

Coupled with the latest security standard by the Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) Wi-Fi Protected Access 3 (WPA3) for Enterprise, Wi-Fi 6 enables healthcare providers to benefit from a reliable, efficient, and secured Wi-Fi connection for patient care and clinical workflows.

Advanced-Wi-Fi-6-Feature-Testing-Spirent

Key Wi-Fi 6 features

  • OFDMA: enables higher aggregated throughput and lower latency in dense environments like in hospitals (over previous generations of products). However, the key benefit of OFDMA is the scheduling-based resource allocation capability in the frequency domain, which enables organizations to prioritize their Wi-Fi traffic. For instance, life-saving traffic data such as patient monitoring and paging can now be prioritized over less sensitive traffic such as Internet-of-Medical Things (IoMT).
  • MU-MIMO: Particularly suitable for higher bandwidth applications and larger data packets, MU-MIMO (capable of up to 8×8) enables access points (APs) to transmit more data at a given time and serves a larger number of concurrent clients. Healthcare applications, ranging from full-body MRI images accessible by handheld devices to HD video for physician and patient consultation, require a higher bandwidth, that is supported by this feature.
  • Target Wake Time (TWT): Large number of IoMT devices run on battery power. With TWT, APs and IoMT devices can “wake up” at negotiated times. In multiple WLANs deployment scenarios in congested environment like hospitals and clinics, this allows for reduced power consumption and longer battery life for IoMT devices, as well as less congestion for the Wi-Fi network.
  • WPA3: Healthcare industry is tasked with protecting critical medical information and patient records by regulatory requirements, especially when such information is transmitted over the air. The latest WPA3 standard offers enhanced security protection and is available in two forms:
    • WPA3-Enterprise: Unlike WPA2, WPA3-Enterprise provides a 192-bit security suite, making for a more robust security system for enterprise environments, making critical networks harder for hackers to penetrate.
    • WPA3-Personal: WPA3-Personal uses Simultaneous Authentication of Equals (SAE) (RFC 7664) to replace Pre-shared Key (PSK) in WPA2-Personal, to offer forward secrecy, that helps protect data traffic by making it resistant to offline dictionary attacks.

In addition, Wi-Fi 6 is backward compatible, enabling legacy clients to co-exist with the latest Wi-Fi 6 devices. This is particularly important in healthcare facilities, where thousands of devices from various Wi-Fi generations are served by the same network at any given time.

In the sequel to this blog, we will take a closer look at Wi-Fi device and network testing considerations for healthcare providers.