SoftAtHome works with Qualcomm, paving way for 5G/WiFi gateway

French home WiFi vendor SoftAtHome’s has ported its software to the Qualcomm Networking Pro 1200 platform in a deal designed to lay the foundations for ISPs to pair WiFi 6 and 5G networking capabilities in a single home gateway.

Purpose-built for WiFi 6, the next-generation wireless standard which has just commenced certification, the Pro 1200 is a beast of a platform, enabling 12 WiFi 6 streams to deliver connectivity even in tricky-to-navigate environments.

SoftAtHome brings its suite of connected home software to the party, including Connect’ON (connectivity), WiFi’ON (optimization), Secure’ON (monitoring and analysis) and Eyes’ON (evaluation).

Together, these make up a smart WiFi package, adding crucial network analytics processes to prominent features of the new line of Networking Pro Series platforms. These include support for the WiFi 6 modulation 1024QAM, which enables up to 38% higher raw throughput against WiFi 5. They also include Qualcomm’s multi-use scheduling algorithms, which the company claims represents a distinctly differentiated form of traffic management for WiFi.

Relying on two technologies fundamental to WiFi 6 – Multiuser MIMO and OFDMA – Qualcomm says networks built on the new roster of platforms (of which there are four) can set a new benchmark for prioritizing network access for large numbers of connected clients.

It means Qualcomm Networking Pro Series Platforms support MU-MIMO in the uplink and downlink across all bands, ensuring up to 12 independent chains of WiFi to simultaneously connect MU-MIMO capable clients. OFDMA is supported in the uplink and downlink across all bands capable of 37 users per 5 GHz channel used.

The Pro Series Platforms portfolio includes the 1200, 800, 600 and 400, named as such to represent the number of spatial streams of WiFi 6 connectivity supported (where the 1200 supports 12 streams, 800 supports 8, etc.). All are powered by a quad-core processor ranging from 1 GHz to 2.2 GHz.

Also new at the SoftAtHome’s stand at last week’s Broadband World Forum were demos of an application store downloading specific applications in a home gateway container on-demand. This includes traffic identification, which it says is an instrumental feature in building advanced operator services such as parental control, QoS enforcement or security. Voice functionality has recently been added to the SoftAtHome gateway experience and last week the vendor was handed an upgrade at Orange for the new Livebox 5 home gateway.

“We make the home gateway the service platform of the future ready for 5G,” claimed  SoftAtHome CEO David Viret-Lange. This is a company expert in the intricacies of video delivery and WiFi connectivity within the home – not a vendor associated with the cellular market.

That appeared to have changed in September last year, when SoftAtHome acquired V3D – a telecom data analytics specialist said to collect millions of KPIs for fixed and mobile operator clients. One year on, V3D has shifted focus from mobile to monitoring in-home consumer behavior data, but the firm’s cellular roots have enabled the SoftAtHome Eyes’ON WiFi analytics software to work with 5G devices too.

At Broadband World Forum last year, we observed the V3D-equipped Eyes’ON product showing how important it is for an operator to have eyes on (hence the name) the broadband speed going into a home gateway and the WiFi speed coming out. Both were compared side-by-side in a demo to ensure that broadband problems were not mistaken with WiFi problems and vice versa. Now 5G is being thrown into the equation, so we hope to have our own eyes on a comparison demo soon.