SoftAtHome adds O2 Czech, new Orange deal and Quantenna WiFi

French TV software player SoftAtHome launched the O2 Czech Republic smart box at IBC this week, built by KaonMedia on a Broadcom chip. It also showed off “voice” capabilities, cut an extended deal with Orange and extended its Smart WiFi to include Quantenna chips.

SoftAtHome is also behind the O2 Czech upgrade to the WiFi system which is needed as the home gateway was upgraded to 250 Mbps using what some call VDSL3, but which most call V-Plus or simple VDSL 35b, which uses 35 MHz of spectrum in the baseband, over twisted pair rather than 17 MHz and has to be used with vectoring to get the best outcome. Performances can go up to 360 Mbps, but it is dependent upon the distance the device is from the home. O2 Czech Republic was acquired from Telefonica in 2013 by local interests, but still uses the O2 brand.

The key SoftAtHome part to the equation is how it manages the WiFi as well as home security, remote controls for home appliances and lights, fire alarm, with other services to be announced soon.

David Souhami, ‎Director of Innovation & Product Marketing at SoftAtHome, described the system as “voice” ready and showed a surveillance system driven by voice which he triggered using the name “Maestro,” his version of Alexa, He did a TV program search and played a movie all with voice commands and also switched it to surveillance. He told us “It was not supplied by us, but at Korea Telecom, the voice system there was supposed to sell just 100,000 last year, instead it sold 1 million. People love the use of voice.”

He also told us that WiFi quality and performance issues generated 120,000 customer service requests last year at O2 Czech Republic and SoftAtHome will be using the WiFi management built into its CloudAtHome platform to control which devices connect to a Z-Wave hub built into the home gateway. It looks like O2 will also be using advanced WiFi management features such as band steering and client steering which were announced as part of the SOP platform back in March, which should have a beneficial effect on those O2 call rates.

The Home Gateway is based on the Broadcom BCM63138 chipset, and as a home network router offers 4 Gbps Ethernet connectors and Dual-Band WiFi with a theoretical throughput of 2.2 Gbps, 1.74 Gbps of which is from 5GHz. To maximize coverage, it has 4 x 4 antennas and uses MU-MIMO and beamforming.

Meanwhile, SofAtHome mentioned another design win of an electricity smart meter, using the established KNX technology for Direct Énergie, a French electric utility, serving 2.1 million consumers in France and Belgium.

KNX is a standardized OSI-based network protocol which works over powerline and twisted pair, and is well established as primarily a meter reading technology across Europe.

While we were there, Souhami demonstrated a set top integrated with YouTube and Netflix, geared up for music services as well with headset connectors, which allow for multiple headsets connected which will eventually allow for two audio streams – either someone listening to the TV and another listening to music, or two different languages for the same TV program. On the same roadmap he promised to add video surveillance, and voice activation with both Nuance and Alexa, which he says has been a request from lots of operators.

SoftAtHome also said it had extended its contract with Orange, to the countries outside France and to 4K devices. The new box, that has just been released in Spain last month, upgrades performance to 4K for premium live content, and added a Videoclub catalog. Viewers in Spain can also access Netflix content in 4K quality or Wuaki 4K content.

Finally it uncovered the deal it has with Quantenna saying that its SoftAtHome Smart WiFi runs on the QV860 chipset. In the past it has operated an any chipset policy on what it calls Smart WiFi and by adding one of the most popular SoCs at present it should make for a better WiFi experience for its operators.