Open Garden to enable channel bonding over Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G

San Francisco-based startup Open Garden is preparing the next version of its software application, which will enable customers to use channel bonding over multiple networks to increase bandwidth as well as leverage multi-hop Wi-Fi offloading to crowdsource bandwidth.

However, the company will not be implementing the Low Extra Delay Background Transport (LEDBAT) protocol in its software, even though it was created by Stanislav Shalunov, Open Garden CTO, and Greg Hazel, the company's chief architect. The men were employed by BitTorrent when they worked on standarizing LEDBAT, which was originally developed to transport data across the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, in Switzerland.

Open Garden announced that the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) recently standardized LEDBAT, which can be used with any application that seeks to minimize its impact on the network and on other interactive delay- and/or bandwidth-sensitive network applications.

"PC software already has implemented LEDBAT, and now it is time that mobile app developers start to embrace it," said Shalunov, who noted LEDBAT can be used to enable mobile devices to send background traffic such as photo or video uploads without delaying real-time communications, such as email checking or Web browsing.

But Micha Benoliel, Open Garden's co-founder and CEO, told FierceBroadbandWireless that Open Garden's scope and vision does not currently include LEDBAT, though the company is proud of its executives' work on the standard.

"The reason why we decided to push the work that Stas and Greg made in the past and is now standardized is [that] we believe it's a big contribution to the Internet. And the scope of Open Garden is to provide better mobile access to the Internet," said Benoliel.

LEDBAT "may end up being helpful in the future" to Open Garden's vision because it can be useful in prioritizing certain data traffic, said Shalunov. For now, however, he and his technical team at Open Garden, which has seven employees, are focused on creating an app that users can install on each of their mobile devices to create large crowdsourced mesh networks for mobile broadband.

Open Garden launched a beta of its initial tethering solution in May at the TechCrunch Disrupt event, where it won accolades as the Most Innovative Startup. The app is available for Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows, Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) Mac OS X and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android OS.

Source: Open Garden

A tablet loaded with Open Garden's software can link via Wi-Fi to a smartphone that also has the software, enabling the tablet to access the Internet over the smartphone's cellular network connection, said Benoliel about the initial app. "Compared to other tethering solutions, everything happens in the background. It is completely seamless. There is no user intervention."

Version 2 of Open Garden's app, slated for release likely in early 2013, will include channel bonding, which connects multiple devices together locally, enabling a user to pull data through multiple channels at once, whether they are Wi-Fi, 3G or 4G, said Shalunov.

Channel bonding appears conceptually similar to carrier aggregation enabled by LTE-Advanced technology, which enables two or more carriers to be combined into a single channel for more bandwidth. For example, AT&T (NYSE:T) has indicated it is interested in combining its 700 MHz spectrum and AWS spectrum via carrier aggregation.

The upcoming version of Open Garden's app will leverage the concept of crowdsourcing. For instance, if a user with an Open Garden-enabled smartphone walks past a café where another user with an Open Garden-enabled laptop is connected to the café's Wi-Fi network, the first user's smartphone will automatically connect to the other user's laptop and pull more data through the café's Wi-Fi connection. This will effectively improve the smartphone's coverage, reliability and data speed over that provided by the 3G or 4G mobile network serving the handset, said Shalunov.

Version 2 will also enable multi-hop Wi-Fi offloading, via which a smartphone can offload traffic from the mobile network to a Wi-Fi network indirectly by connecting through another device on a mesh network created using Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections across a range of mobile devices, which can include smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops.

In September, Open Garden raised a $2 million seed round from a group of technology industry angel investors and venture capitalists. The company "has a list of several ways to monetize" its products, said Benoliel, noting Open Garden might opt to charge for premium services, enlist advertising support or license the software the handset manufacturers.

"For now we haven't decided. We are really focused building the technology," he said.

For more:
- see this Open Garden release
- see this IETF Web page

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