Manufacturers embracing WiFi as Celeno, Qualcomm get TV chip win

A couple of WiFi moves this week represent stepping stones towards an emerging trend in which electronics manufacturers and equipment vendors are accepting that putting a WiFi chip directly into streaming devices can offer enough connectivity that a wired connection is no longer necessary – with Wave 2 Multi-User MIMO technology at the heart of this transition.

The first, more convoluted, announcement this week came from Israeli WiFi chip firm Celeno Communications, winning a contract at German electronics manufacturer Loewe Technologies to provide silicon and software for smart home entertainment devices.

The important detail of exactly what types of devices are being installed with Celeno’s technology has been mysteriously left out of the press release, instead stating that the deal will enable Loewe to provide uninterrupted HD audio and visual experiences for users, delivering Gigabit speeds even in crowded environments. Loewe makes a range of high-end TV sets, surround sound systems, and accessories including 3D glasses and remote controls.

Celeno is supplying its CL2400 WiFi silicon with OptimizAIR WiFi virtualization software, plus ControlAIR technology which Celeno says increases throughput using multiple access points (APs), by adding dynamic Radio Resource Management (RRM), a key radio functionality element, and what it calls smart cluster connectivity.

Smart cluster connectivity seems to be a term invented by Celeno for the software behind the decision making in band steering and client steering techniques – software which maximizes the algorithms to dynamically select which antennas should be used when there is more than one AP.

We are unsure why Celeno hasn’t jumped into WiFi mesh software as its main competitor AirTies has pioneered this field. Mesh is crucial to a home environment, particularly in MDUs, because if a home does not have a mesh system, there is no way for the gateway to communicate its condition to another AP, or for one AP to collect channel state information for other devices and deliver that to the next AP.

The marketing jargon continues, talking about a “Sprinklers” architecture, which we can only guess is Celeno’s term for having lots of APs in a single home.

With IBC around the corner, we can expect WiFi announcements galore, including additional moves from smart TV and connected device makers that add to the growing consensus of not just putting clever chips from the likes of AirTies, Celeno and Qualcomm into their devices – but accepting that the future is software-driven WiFi. Only then can features such as client steering and MU-MIMO reach their full potential in supporting the connected home and delivering new viewing formats without hiccups.

Celeno claims to have a tier 1 account coming in the US, and its rival AirTies has recently secured two major chip licensing deals with Broadcom and Quantenna.

Loewe CTO Michael Pedersen said, “Loewe is above all committed to innovation and quality, and choosing Celeno was another confirmation of this commitment. Our customers are buying a top tier product and they expect that it will work great anywhere in their home on every account, from audio and visual quality, to a seamless streaming experience across multiple devices and Celeno makes this possible.”

Next up is Samsung, which has dropped a WiFi chip from Qualcomm Technologies into its new line of QLED TV sets. The QCA9379 combo chip supports dual-stream 802.11ac WiFi with the MU-MIMO specification – providing smoother viewing experiences for bandwidth-heavy content such as 4K UHD video.

It says the inclusion of Bluetooth on the chip means doing away with the limitations of legacy infrared remote controls as well as supporting advanced functionality such as voice control – as the QCA9379 interoperates with Qualcomm’s CSR102x Bluetooth Smart SoC. As well as TV remotes, Qualcomm adds that the CSR102x prolongs the life of other battery powered entertainment and gaming devices.

Qualcomm Technologies VP of product management Joseph Bousaba said, “Our QCA9379 solution was designed to support interactive and engaging media experiences in smart TV products, streaming devices, and set top/gaming boxes, thanks to the superior connectivity it delivers.”