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O2 Czech expands smart WiFi strategy with SoftAtHome boosters

Already the incumbent video and WiFi technology supplier at Orange after a deal extension a couple of years ago, French vendor SoftAtHome has been given the nod by another household name, O2. However, despite its expanded deal with O2 Czech Republic being a significant one, it’s worth noting that O2 Czech Republic is not owned by telco behemoth Telefonica –extinguishing any assertions that O2 Czech Republic could represent a testbed for a much wider deployment.

O2 Czech Republic has in fact been running SoftAtHome’s WiFi’ON software in its Smart Booster since April, devices which the vendor says are bespoke WiFi extenders designed together with O2 Czech Republic and Korean hardware partner Kaon. SoftAtHome deployed a home gateway with O2 Czech Republic back in 2017, providing smart WiFi on a Kaon-made box running on the end of VDSL3 or V-Plus line at around 360 Mbps.

It could be said then that the SoftAtHome-O2 partnership has been a slow burner, taking two years to develop and deploy extenders. Although playing devil’s advocate we’d suggest something as critical as a comprehensive WiFi strategy, itself forming the foundations for broader ambitious smart home projects at operators, should not be rushed.

The Smart Booster comes kitted out with an integrated mesh function meaning multiple O2 Smart Boosters can mesh together creating a blanket of WiFi coverage ideal for large homes or businesses, costing a competitive $2.14 a month.

O2’s Smart Box smartphone app comes with a futuristic-sounding feature for spotting the optimum location for a Smart Booster within a property by using augmented reality. Really the AR is just providing a visual overlay for the app’s core signal strength indicator which some reviewers might see as an annoying gimmick, but we can’t wait to get a demo nonetheless, although notorious tradeshow WiFi might hinder the experience somewhat.

Although unconnected, as O2 Czech Republic is owned by PPF and simply licenses the O2 branding from Telefonica, it’s worth dropping in some extra information which shows that Telefonica runs ASSIA CloudCheck management software – a cloud-based management tool for WiFi which reaches right down into how it is performing on remote customer premises.

SoftAtHome told us the Smart Booster runs a Broadcom chipset for the main SoC and for WiFi too, differing from its Orange deployment which uses Quantenna WiFi silicon.

So, it transpires O2 Czech Republic actually rolled out the SoftAtHome-powered Smart Boosters around the same time Danish telco TDC deployed a home gateway running software from the French vendor – combining two bonded VDSL lines, high quality TV and uninterrupted communications with 4×4 WiFi. April was a good month for SoftAtHome; the next year could be even better.

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