I have lost count of how many times I have stated the majority of home networks are just not robust enough to cope with all the video being transmitted in the connected home. That includes pay-TV along with OTT video services, as operators seek to push their services around the home to the full smorgasbord of devices users will own – connected TVs, games consoles, tablets or smartphones.
The question of who will pay for the necessary upgrade to the home network looms large. But it is much more likely that it will be the service provider – be that a CE manufacturer or a pay-TV operator – who foots the bill rather than the user. The cheapest way to improve home networks is if the necessary technology is embedded in the router and devices themselves, rather than requiring a separate dongle for every connection. In this regard Wi-Fi is years ahead of its rival technologies. Unlike its wireline rivals Wi-Fi can connect to portable and stationary devices.
But the problem with Wi-Fi – and I doubt there is a single reader of this blog that has not experienced this – is that it is unreliable and liable to drop out at the most unwanted of times. And despite the advances with the N standard it still cannot handle multiple HD video streams.
It is into this landscape that several silicon manufacturers have developed QoS Wi-Fi. Not least among them is start-up Quantenna. It offers a 4×4 MiMo Wi-Fi chip that boasts 600Mbps throughput and a range far in excess of standard Wi-Fi. Having witnessed the technology first hand at IP&TV World Forum much of my skepticism about their claims evaporated. In the past few months it has made substantial inroads into the market.
In October Quantenna partnered with Samsung - a deal that says just as much about Samsung’s multiscreen ambitions and its desire to establish itself as a player in the home as it does the quality of Quantenna’s product. It is likely that Samsung see this as the solving the problem of connecting the TV and ensuring the service quality it offers is equal to linear and pay-TV.
[On Monday] Telefonica joined fellow operator Swisscom in taking a stake in Quantenna. Unlike Swisscom, Telefonica has operations scattered across the globe and, as no two houses present the same home networking challenges even in the same country, if it wants to deliver a multi room of similar quality across these regions it is going to need to have a flexible approach.
Quantenna’s Wi-Fi solution is most definitely one half of the solution to this problem, and the Telefonica backed G.hn would seem to be the other half.
With operators and CE manufacturers vying for dominance in the multi room, multiscreen, future and recognizing that a good network is essential, it is unlikely that this will be the last we will hear from Quantenna and its QoS Wi-Fi rivals.
Andrew Ladbrook is a research analyst with Informa Telecoms & Media, specializing in home network technology and smart connected devices.