Look away EasyMesh, Plume OpenSync arrives on Quantenna

A significant tie up in the WiFi space was inked this week as Plume and Quantenna were demonstrating the integration of the open source framework OpenSync on Quantenna’s WiFi 6 silicon for the first time.

When key rival AirTies agreed to buy the WiFi Doctor business from Technicolor last month, we asked the question, “We wonder what Plume is plotting right now?” – and the answer all along was working with a major silicon supplier to embrace OpenSync with the aim of challenging the recently released EasyMesh standard.

The integration comes on the back of a huge OpenSync announcement from Broadband World Forum a few months back with Samsung, adding to a list including Comcast, Liberty Global and Bell Canada. While an enormous footprint, measuring success on open source installations could be considered trivial, yet Quantenna’s customer list does include some of the world’s largest operators.

OpenSync is essentially Plume’s virtualized middle layer geared towards getting operators to ditch their legacy management system based on TR069. EasyMesh, on the other hand, has seen steady uptake by vendors and adoption generally looks positive. Admittedly, EasyMesh technology has some catching up to do, although fundamentally the point is interoperability not competition, or so industry players would like us to believe. Recent EasyMesh developments include plans to build an open platform for the WiFi Alliance’s multi-AP specification, the basis of EasyMesh.

So, Quantenna’s QSR5GU-AX Plus is a 9-stream WiFi 6 solution, with integrated dual-band, dual-concurrent 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz functionality in the same chipset. It includes the SmartScan feature, offering enhanced radar detection and spectrum analyzer capabilities with wide frequency range analysis. It supports data rates up to 5.4Gbps and advanced MU-MIMO schemes, allowing for superior network capacity by transmission to multiple devices at the same time.

The release also talks about Quantenna’s Qdock software platform, which it says is fully supported by OpenSync, allowing OEMs, service providers, and software developers to deploy cloud-capable CPE devices with features like mesh-based applications, parental and access controls, and AI security on Quantenna WiFi 6 silicon.

Plume describes OpenSync as the first multi-industry, open service curation, delivery, management and support framework, but this is really just half the story. What is called OpenSync Target Layer goes up directly against EasyMesh. Since the industry has adopted EasyMesh at large scale, Target layer was of limited future use to Plume, so it has decided to simply give it away. However, at the time of the Samsun deal we questioned how much function there is in the OpenSync managers, since all decisions to control WiFi features such as client and band steering, which are supported in EasyMesh, are all taken by cloud software. And given that MQTT is a messaging protocol, this is really a way of sending messages to and from the cloud to be undertaken by EasyMesh in the future, and by OpenSync Managers right now.

Quantenna was also in action with NXP Semiconductors this week, collaborating on the development of WiFi 6 (formerly IEEE 802.11ax) platforms including hardware, software and a set of reference designs for integrated residential gateways, routers and repeaters. The plan is to combine Quantenna’s WiFi 6 QSR10GU-AX Plus and QSR5GU-AX Plus, with NXP’s Layerscape processors, including LS1043A and LS1046A multicore processors. The two companies plan to offer high levels of WiFi performance with up to 10 Gbps throughput.

Quantenna might have been active this week yet WiFi 6 was not nearly as prominent at MWC as hoped. Plume though is making a habit of saving major announcements for shows where it operates in stealth with not even a small stand – so expect some substantial follow up news from the vendor, in which Comcast is a shareholder, throughout this year.