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22 March 2018

ASSIA makes contact after almost 3 years in wilderness – signs Telus

ASSIA, the company founded by ADSL inventor John Cioffi, has remerged from what it describes as stealth, and entered the market for WiFi management, with its first deal to sell its cloud-based CloudCheck platform to Telus of Canada. And it added the fact that 25 million more ADSL lines are under management since we last spoke to them. Back in 2015 it was 100 million lines, so the rate of adding DSL management lines has fallen off a cliff if it has only added 25 million since then.

Cioffi and his team brought the vectoring standards to market for broadband, laying the basis for, and then moved into products which cancelled out crosstalk in bundles of DSL lines, but also pushed a DSL management system which could dynamically alter broadband configurations to get the best out of broadband lines. It went on to offer an expert system for repairing broadband lines to shorten the workload for broadband engineers. With AT&T as a first client, it managed to push Alcatel (now part of Nokia) in the sales of management systems on vectored DSL lines.

Using Dynamic Spectrum Management ASSIA processed entire bundles of broadband lines as if they were a huge MIMO single service for the entire bundle. It now looks like it ran out of road to grow that market as many ADSL lines have been shut off although lines have been added, although somewhat slower than most people expected.

And we have to once again go back to 2012 to find ASSIA’s first forays into WiFi management with what at the time was called Expresse WiFi, which seems similar to a Qualcomm systems called Streamboost, which came and went in the 2013 time frame – importing policy decisions from the cloud to fix bottlenecks in WiFi.

This market has been pretty much ceded now to Turkish company AirTies which positions its AirTies Remote Manager as an extension to a multiple AP installation, which operates as a mesh. It has also won favor at Sky and Deutsche Telekom in Europe. The ASSIA system works in a very different way, and at its heart was the correct apportioning of blame – if slow broadband was a WiFi problem – ASSIA did not want it being blamed on its broadband management – and so it was a natural extension for its DSL management system.

By changing its name to CloudCheck, ASSIA seems to have relaunched it and now it has a solid tier 1 installation at Telus in Canada which has about 1.7 millon broadband lines. It works with both DSL and also fiber systems and the Telus system is mostly fiber.

CloudCheck plugs directly into a call center or to field technicians, rather than simply being managed by a piece of policy software, and it proactively detects
and resolves subscriber WiFi issues. We assume this works in a similar way to AirTies, but around a single home gateway, moving links from one band to another 2.4 GHz to 5 GH for instance, and individual channels within that spectrum or by simply cutting off devices for a second, when they are hogging resources.

ASSIA says it provides real-time diagnostics, self-healing, and optimization of WiFi and like AirTies Remote View it allows operator staff to take a look at all the connections in real time in a house. ASSIA says that CloudCheck is now supported on over 100 different home gateway models and works with high speed DSL and GPON networks on chips from Broadcom, Qualcomm, Quantenna and Intel chips and devices from Arris, Adtran, Askey, ASUS, Arcadyan, AirTies, HITRON, Huawei, Linksys, Mitrastar, Netgear, TP-Link, Sagemcom, Technicolor and Zyxel. We presume this is because it relies on standard connections and instructions using the TR-069 remote management standard.

One of the problems for a management tool which supports a single WiFi device in the home is that most major operators already have a multi-AP strategy in their roadmap, where one or two extra Access Points work in conjunction in a mesh or extender configuration and this requires a more complex set of decisions in in-network information sharing, and allows the further dimension of fixing bad apples and sticky clients by forcing a device to connect to a different, closer AP. Comcast in the US has settled on a device from Plume Networks and AT&T and others have opted for Airties.