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15 August 2019

AirTies invades SoftAtHome patch with Swiss Quickline win

Quickline, one of Switzerland’s lesser known operators, has deployed a suite of technologies from one of the industry’s better known WiFi aficionados AirTies – across a footprint of 400,000 households. Considering there are some 3.7 million households in Switzerland, Quickline has a respectable market share in the region of 11% so is not to be scoffed at – particularly in a country famed for its advanced broadband infrastructure.

AirTies is supplying all the usual suspects including its coveted cloud-based Remote Manager optimization tool and Mesh Extenders powered by the AirTies Smart WiFi Software. It’s worth pointing out that the Remote Manager product is significantly smarter than it was earlier this year. Having completed the acquisition of Technicolor’s WiFi Doctor division in April, the Turkish vendor has been busy pre-integrating the software into Remote Manager, meaning its intelligent WiFi tentacles will reach into an installed base of millions of gateways. AirTies also inherited some 30 employees from Technicolor and we know all too well how tricky it can be to find proficient people in the WiFi sector.

AirTies may well be boasting a reach of 30 million homes via 50 service providers across 4 continents, yet the vendor still has a point to prove in certain territories. Its Swiss win is therefore a statement to rival WiFi software supplier SoftAtHome which, being a French company, has naturally found favor across the border in Switzerland with a major account at Swisscom. SoftAtHome supports WiFi for the IPTV platform Swisscom TV, a 3-in-1 video bridge, repeater and extender.

Swisscom has been a breath of fresh air among tier 1 internet service providers, going beyond just discussing advanced network technologies without following through, but investing significantly in R&D and deploying network upgrades at a steady rate.

Liberty Global meanwhile is a fan of whole home mesh WiFi from Plume, which is now installed on almost all Virgin Media home gateways in the UK, but there is no evidence of Plume in play at Liberty’s Swiss arm UPC Switzerland, which sources WiFi chips from Celeno for its Horizon gateway, silicon AirTies software is compatible with.

We should be careful not to confuse Quickline with the UK-based service provider of the same name. Despite offering almost identical services under the same brand, these are entirely separate companies, quashing our initial enthusiasm that the AirTies deployment deal covered both countries.

Quickline clearly isn’t the first name on everyone’s lips when discussing Swiss operators, and in fact the only vendor supplier case we have come across before is with local Swiss technology supplier Zattoo, which powers the TV Everywhere service Quickline Mobile TV. Zattoo says it encodes and transcodes live TV signals into around 30 streaming profiles for multiple screens, supporting HDS, HLS, Smooth Streaming and DASH. The Swiss firm has built its end-to-end platform over 8 years, replacing CDN distribution with direct network peering that allows for a managed quality distribution of the video streams – which it calls unicast IPTV.

Salt is another notable Zattoo customer, for which it powers the 4K UHD platform, handling ongoing development and apps. Zattoo said this deployment was the first case of using operator login on Apple TV outside the US, meaning Salt TV apps are installed automatically on the device.

Evidently then, like SoftAtHome, Zattoo has proven a compelling option for Swiss service providers, once again highlighting the need for multi-AP architectures and intelligent WiFi software features around the home to support the mushrooming video streaming market. By all accounts, it appears Quickline is the first Swiss ISP to embrace AirTies and that could prove a concern for SoftAtHome. The two vendors have collaborated on past projects but there is no room for niceties when gunning for operator accounts.

Switzerland is projected to have approximately 2.2 million multi-AP installations by 2023, which as a percentage of population is particularly high in Europe. More impressive still is the evidence that cloud-managed WiFi in Switzerland is forecast to grow to around 4 million homes by this time, according to data from our research arm Rethink TV.