South Korean startup AirPlug is gaining traction for its multi-network channel bonding technology, having won a deal with KT Media Hub that is aimed at reducing data traffic generated by mobile TV viewing.
Based on multiple access optimization (MAO) technology, AirPlug's ABC (always best connect) platform was in development for two years and relies upon a smartphone application to automatically find the best Wi-Fi or other wireless network. It also can combine 3G or LTE signals with Wi-Fi to create a single, fat data pipe.
According to AirPlug, its MAO technology combines network status, user information and service conditions to find the optimal network for data offloading and improved service quality. In addition to the client software, optional servers can enhance the service quality and maximize network utilization efficiency, AirPlug said.
"Our software agent runs at application level without changing the terminal platform and makes applications recognize multiple time-varying networks as a single virtual one. Also, because servers do not exist on a data plane, there is no need to alter or extend the existing mobile network infrastructure," the company added.
Diagram: Multiple Access Optimization (MAO) technology. (Source: AirPlug)
Since the first half of this year, KT and AirPlug have been conducting field trials, applying the ABC platform to KT's Olleh mobile TV service.
Test results revealed that AirPlug's technology can slash wireless data consumption by 50 percent on average and up to 80 percent compared to cellular-only service. The platform also promises to enhance the quality of mobile multimedia service while cutting users' cellular data charges.
Initially, KT will use ABC with real-time channels before extending it to its video on demand (VoD) service.
AirPlug's technology is rules-based as directed by the operator. According to Light Reading, KT has opted for Wi-Fi to be the default network, so ABC seeks out usable unlicensed spectrum initially. When it comes to combining channels, AirPlug's platform can let a user opt to blend signals or that can be made to happen automatically. Currently, KT notifies users regarding which network they are on and also lets them choose which network to be on, which can help them rein in their cellular data charges.
AirPlug, which is funded by Storm Ventures as well as TransLink Capital, is far from alone in its efforts to develop channel bonding across networks.
Open Garden and Mushroom Networks are among companies involved in similar initiatives. Further, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) implemented multipath TCP in iOS 7 to combine cellular and Wi-Fi for use by its voice-query Siri technology. However, it is only allowing Siri to switch back and forth between cellular and Wi-Fi as needed, rather than combining the channels for greater bandwidth.
- see this Air Plug webpage
- see this Light Reading article
Apple's use of multipath TCP is only the beginning
Mushroom Networks plants wireless bonding in Georgia
Open Garden to enable channel bonding over Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G