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11 February 2016

MaxLinear works with Celeno towards multi-AP home gateways

An announcement this week by US RF chip specialist MaxLinear and Israeli WiFi chip make Celeno, underscores a point we at Faultline made a few weeks back regarding the Sky Q set top, namely that the next WiFi trend is to offer multiple Access Points per home, not a bigger single WiFi access point.

The announcement is simply a reference platform and we haven’t had a chance to speak to MaxLinear about it, but it was brought out at the CableLabs winter conference, and combines MoCA 2.0 silicon with 4 x 4 MIMO WiFi, to make a robust home network.

For years we have talked to MoCA (the organization) suggesting its future is as a backhaul for WiFi, and this is one such instance. It needed the addition of software from Celeno (ControlAIR) which also facilitates easy set-up, consumer control features and client steering – a term we have only previously come across from AirTies in Turkey.

Client Steering is a mesh network telling a client which of the APs it should connect to for the health of the network, which Celeno calls Connectivity Management, which also helps the AP select the most appropriate WiFi chanel as well. This means it will also push each Access Point to the right channels too, dynamically sniffing those available and picking even the radar channesl which require DFS for selection.

Now we know that AirTies has chosen in Europe to do this using HomePlug AV2 as the fall back backhaul, but Celeno, with its eyes on the US and other markets, where coaxial cable is more likely to be present, has now done the same with MoCA. We’re not sure if this is an extender technology or whether it is a true mesh as this point, and whether or not the default is to self-backhaul these devices across 5.0 GHz to begin with or in the absence of a MoCA connection. Also can part of the backhauled message go over one route and the remainder go over another? The system needs quite a lot of stored data and intelligence to achieve all this. But regardless, this is where WiFi is now heading, and 8 x 8 MIMO monsters that the pay TV WiFi market leader Quantenna is suggesting, may have already had their day.

Essentially this should lead to a dramatic fall off in what are called bad apple problems, when a single device hogs all the network bandwidth, and there will be RPQs out now from operators looking at systems which can protect 4K WiFI streams moving throughout the home, and this could be one approach

The reference design uses Celeno’s Quicksilver CL2440 802.11ac Wave 2 4×4 Multi User MIMO WiFi chip and MaxLinear’s low power EN2810 MoCA 2.0 SoC.

Sky Q is the first set top we have seen where the DTH signal is sent through WiFi to other devices in the home, rather than smartphones and Tablets reaching out over the open internet for the same content and this reference design is likely to offer the same capability but in MoCA connected regions.

There is even a co-existence standard IEEE 1905.1, to move data between MoCA and WiFi, but the AirTies systems did not use this because it has insufficient data routes to allow each AP to know enough about the entire network. There was no mention in this release of 1905.1 either.

“The proliferation of mobile devices, tablets, over-the-top Ultra-HD video, and Internet-of-Things (IoT) will only increase the burden placed on a subscriber’s home network. Service providers need solutions today that reliably distribute high levels of broadband service over the MoCA backbone and can address WiFi throughput and coverage issues,” said Will Torgerson, MaxLinear Vice President & General Manager of Broadband Group.

If this takes off we imagine that MaxLinear might feel it would be better if it had its own WiFi resource and that it might attempt to acquire Celeno, as it is cash rich and public on the US market.