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Cable Tech

CableLabs' Kyrio unit tackles mobile hotspot automation

When the home broadband service goes down, using the mobile hotspot capability in a smartphone as a connectivity backup is a commonplace remedy.

But the process is typically manual and clunky and tends to limit the backup connection to a person's PC or laptop. Plus, the user has to realize that an outage has occurred in the first place before setting upon that process.

Kyrio, a for-profit unit spun out of CableLabs, intends to take that basic backup idea to the next level by automating mobile hotspot connections when the need arises and, further, to extend that backup link to a wider range of devices in the home that are usually connected to the home's Wi-Fi network. In an additional step, Kyrio says its new approach is also capable of detecting when an outage of the primary broadband connection occurs.

Kyrio reasons that its latest offering, an expansion to its Adaptive Route Control (ARC) product called ARC Hotspot, offers a new way to boost the reliability of broadband service for both residential and business users.

This diagram shows how the ARC Hotspot architecture provides a backup connection if and when a home's primary fixed connection goes down.  

Click here for a larger version of this image. 
(Source: Kyrio)
This diagram shows how the ARC Hotspot architecture provides a backup connection if and when a home's primary fixed connection goes down.
Click here for a larger version of this image.
(Source: Kyrio)

For deployment, ARC Hotspot requires an app on the phone (which can be built into an operator's own customer care app) and software in the home gateway. From there, the system is designed to detect when an Internet outage occurs and automatically turn on the mobile hotspot. After that, all of the devices connected to the home's Wi-Fi access point are automatically routed to the mobile hotspot to retain their connectivity.

"You don't need to reconfigure your laptop, your wife's laptop, your kid's tablet or your husband's laptop," Mario DiDio, Kyrio's VP of software and network technology, explained. "For them it's completely seamless. It doesn't matter where the traffic gets rerouted ... All of the Wi-Fi devices are still connected to the same Wi-Fi access point. But at that point, the traffic goes from the device through the gateway to the mobile device and then out to the Internet."

Exploring additional use cases

Internet connection failover is the initial use case for ARC Hotspot, which can be used in tandem with multiple types of access networks, not just hybrid fiber/coax (HFC).

Kyrio is also exploring other use cases such as aggregation and something called "smart queuing." The aggregation example would support a mobile device accessing multiple access networks, such as the cellular network and the home Wi-Fi network, simultaneously. Or, the smarts in the platform could be used potentially to decide which path a packet takes depending on the application type, such as using the fixed network for a service or app that requires low latency.

"The moment we put the software agent in the phone and the gateway, we can basically make use of all the connections available," DiDio said.

Work is underway with multiple operators and device makers about integrating ARC Hotspot software into their various gateway devices, whether they run platforms such as the RDK-B, OpenWrt, prpl or a platform that's proprietary to a gateway maker.

"They're all targets for our release," he said.

But the general plan is to bring the failover use case into the market in the second or third quarter of 2023, DiDio said, noting that Kyrio is seeing interest among operators in South America, Europe and, to a degree, in North America. Notably, Liberty Latin America is quoted in Kyrio's ARC Hotspot announcement.

ARC advances

ARC Hotspot emerges nearly a year after Kyrio introduced the original software-based ARC platform, which assists in the routing of customer traffic to the best available network.

The first product for that platform, ARC Mobile, optimizes the way traffic is steered on a mobile device between Wi-Fi and cellular networks. Trials of ARC Mobile are underway with a small set of operators in North America and Europe, according to DiDio.

ARC Mobile "takes on a slightly different problem" [than ARC Hotspot], but the overarching strategy, overarching objective is the same, which is to try to make use of multiple access networks when available to improve the user experience," DiDio said.

And both ARC-based products fit in with Kyrio's and CableLabs' efforts focused on network and service convergence, which have become more prominent as cable operators deploy multiple types of fixed networks – HFC and fiber – and continue to launch or explore mobile and wireless services.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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