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27 October 2020

Home WiFi shouldn’t go all-in on the cloud, warns SoftAtHome

In the home WiFi market, providers should be cautious about seeing a cloud-based model as the be-all and end-all, warned Lionel Gremeau, product marketing management director at WiFi mesh specialist SoftAtHome.

Some WiFi software vendors are heavily cloud-oriented, including AirTies and Plume. But not only can an initial cloud migration be expensive but there are often hidden operating costs associated with cloud services over time. “Storing all data in the cloud is nonsense, economically speaking,” said Gremeau.

SoftAtHome and its rivals have profited from a home WiFi market that continues to rely on a balance between cloud intelligence and local storage – making the most of WiFi management techniques in the cloud while retaining a local on-device element for rapid decision making.

SoftAtHome has somewhat reinvented itself in recent years, recently starting to sell its mesh WiFi software independently of its gateway, for smaller players like Orange Belgium for example, which is using a gateway from Proximus. SoftAtHome is also pushing into Asia-Pacific.

Algorithm adaptation is where Gremeau sees the best challenge for SoftAtHome’s WiFi intelligence capabilities going forward, particularly with WiFi 6E on the horizon. “WiFi 6 is behind us. We are preparing now for WiFi 6E with 6 GHz, which has never been used before,” said Gremeau.

The triband (2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, 6 GHz) standard will help to remove interference from legacy (non-WiFi 6) devices. This is important to the analytics area, which in the SoftAtHome suite is known as Eyes’ON. This applies machine learning to WiFi optimization, gathering user data to send actionable insights back to the service provider for proactively improving customer QoE.

Another clear and obvious technology trend to surface from pandemic behavioural trends has been growing interest in LAN security, driven by the shift to home working. This has been good news for the Secure’ON component of the SoftAtHome portfolio, which promises to precisely identify devices and the services running on them – recognizing abnormal behaviors and blocking attacks in real time.