UTStarcom pitches Wi-Fi solution to North American cable market

UTStarcom is back to take another swing at the U.S. market, this time with a new Wi-Fi solution targeting cable operators with large-scale networks.

The new solution includes the company's carrier-class Wi-Fi access controller (AC), which supports more than 120,000 access points (APs) and more than 1.3 million subscribers within a single chassis that, the company says, is unrivaled in the market.

UTStarcom has seen success in Wi-Fi with its deployment in Japan with Softbank, and it hopes to replicate some of that in North America, according to Aman Sehgal, UTStarcom's regional head of sales and business development for North America. The company believes it has the right technology to offer a single platform for managing all the Wi-Fi in homes, offices and public spaces as cable operators look to blanket more areas and monetize Wi-Fi services, Sehgal told FierceWirelessTech.

Operators know that they've got to quickly deploy APs and that the network needs to be intelligent, which is what UTStarcom brings with its IMS, or intelligent manageability software, which manages how an AP collects data and adds that to the big-data analysis, he said. This is where location-based services (LBS) play a role. Instead of just supplying the dumb pipe, operators can use LBS to add value to services, such as helping customers find what they need when they walk into a retail store.

The company's Wi-Fi data-offloading technology and its MSG10K product have been in commercial deployment with Softbank Mobile since 2013. UTStarcom's technology is used to offload the data traffic in the carrier's network, where the integration of Wi-Fi networks with Softbank Mobile's mobile network can maximize the throughput of data, and VoIP and multimedia services.

Sehgal, who previously worked at BelAir Networks, which was acquired by Ericsson in 2012, said UTStarcom has focused on Asia the past few years because that's where it saw the demand, but it has now made Wi-Fi one of its main objectives and wants to introduce its solution to the North American Market. The idea is not to displace current competitors but to fofer operators value-added services, he said.

UTStarcom opened a new San Jose, Calif., office in June 2014 to serve as its North American headquarters. The office houses R&D, sales and marketing functions and features a product lab.

UTStarcom's MSG10K Plus and MSG2000 Plus are multiservice gateways that combine routing, switching, WLAN gateway and AC functionality in a unified multicore system. MSG Plus provides a high-performance data-offloading solution to operators so they can optimize operating costs while offering higher bandwidth to subscribers.

The newly introduced solution includes new-generation, high-performance 802.11a/b/g/n/ac outdoor access devices that work with MSG Plus series gateways and provide high transit power for better coverage and data rates up to 1.3 Gbps, according to the company.

Sehgal said he thinks Wi-Fi offers the perfect networking technology to meet the needs of the Internet of Things (IoT). "It's the glue that brings all the devices together," he said. Although a lot of efforts are underway to standardize the IoT, the good news is that most of the standards are coming from an open-platform perspective and anyone can define and design their applications based on those open standards, he said.

UTStarcom's three main focus markets are India, Japan and North America. It's possible that UTStarcom's history working with Softbank in Japan will help it gain traction with Sprint in the U.S.

UTStarcom was founded in 1991, and it's been trading on Nasdaq since 2000. At one point, it was in the handset business, but it sold its Personal Communications Devices to AIG Investments in 2008. That followed a similar divestiture, also in 2008, when UTStarcom sold its mobile solutions business, which consisted primarily of CDMA products, to OpenGate Capital. 

For more:
- see this press release
- see this Multichannel News article

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