Quantenna adds ViSiON WiFi management to speed chip launches

Cloud-based analytics software for broadband and WiFi management is all the rage – slashing call center costs for ISPs and introducing features such as remote debugging. WiFi silicon supplier Quantenna Communications has now come out with such a product called ViSiON, which initially looks very similar to ASSIA’s CloudCheck which launched a few weeks ago.

The essential difference between the two pieces of network analytics software is that Quantenna claims ViSiON is not positioned as a direct rival to network management software for monitoring long term deployments, such as CloudCheck – but to accelerate deployment times from the lab and soothe the teething process for a WiFi device’s first year in the field.

Quantenna’s Head of Marketing Ambroise Popper told Faultline Online Reporter how the company has experienced demand from service providers and OEMs for a tool like ViSiON, and Quantenna has in fact been testing the software at undisclosed operators for several years. ViSiON has been in test mode at 10 million nodes across the US and Europe.

This is a handy tool for new WiFi device deployments, but reducing churn is at the forefront of operator roadmaps, which is where the likes of ASSIA and AirTies, with its Remote Manager software, come in and have thrived. Quantenna has decided not to step on too many toes in the software space, but the fact ViSiON only supports Quantenna WiFi chipsets, the company may want to increase its customer options by expanding to monitoring the long term life of a spread of WiFi devices.

Quantenna already has a mesh licensing deal in place with AirTies, but would the potential for a tie up of their respective network management software toolkits be a stretch too far? More importantly, will operators and hardware vendors trust a network management system directly from a chip maker? It is this sort of collaboration the WiFi sector is crying out for, which was a glaring observation from this year’s Mobile World Congress.

Essentially, ViSiON handles WiFi device monitoring from lab introduction all the way to mass deployment, but this feature is superfluous in that no operator runs a pure Quantenna silicon environment in WiFi routers, home gateways, repeaters and access points. Popper did not disagree with this statement, stressing that ViSiON is an ideal tool for new WiFi devices, making it easier to monitor parameters from the design stage, such as radio quality and dropped packets, to get the network and the various devices running on it up to speed. It is also allows for quicker debugging and fine tuning capabilities right from the get go, which we are told will improve the WiFi experience and therefore the end delivery of OTT video over WiFi.

It seems the idea is not necessarily to win over new customers, as the market for multi-AP has been pretty much won by AirTies, and ASSIA is making inroads in legacy WiFi, but to allow existing customers to gain an extra layer of insight. Operators are mainly interested in tracking KPIs in the field, not the lab. Yet in a hyper competitive market, this is not something operators will turn their noses up at. While the advantage to Quantenna in launching network management software is more obvious – is that it can initiate the monitoring process the moment a WiFi chipset is released.

Despite not supporting rival WiFi chips from the likes of Qualcomm and Broadcom, Popper highlighted ViSiON can support multi-AP architectures, where a network has multiple nodes.

Popper said: “Primarily ViSiON is a tool intended to support our customers during the initial development, whereas ASSIA CloudCheck is a service intended to support ongoing deployments.”

Quantenna also claims proprietary machine learning and deep analytics algorithms will be intertwined in ViSiON’s analytics reports, produced by Quantenna’s human WiFi experts, with its Web UI providing insights into key WiFi parameters of an individual device or all devices within a network. Popper explained how these machine learning features are a work in progress but could not open up on specifics, except that we can expect some roll outs from these evolving tools some time within the next year.

On the other hand, CloudCheck plugs directly into a call center or to field technicians, rather than simply being managed by a piece of policy software, and it proactively detects and resolves subscriber WiFi issues. AirTies Remote Manager works differently, serving as an extension to a multi-AP installation and operating as a mesh.