Asus is headed to market with a gigabit router, and it's laying claim to the world's first retail device with support for Wave 2 802.11ac WiFi.
Offering speeds of up to 1.73 Gbit/s, the Asus RT-AC87 router uses a Quantenna Communications Inc. chipset designed with a 4x4 antenna configuration, Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output (MU-MIMO), and beam-forming technology. It's being marketed for high-bandwidth video streaming and file sharing, as well as low-latency gaming. The router is due on retail shelves in North America "shortly" for the hefty price of $269.99. Quantenna has made a name for itself with high-powered WiFi chipsets, supplying both AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) with silicon for their wireless set-tops. The company was also the first to introduce a Wave 2 802.11ac WiFi chipset with the launch of the Quantenna QSR1000 in May.
The QSR1000, which is now embedded in the new Asus router, can deliver multiple wireless streams simultaneously to different client devices. Quantenna also recently debuted a 10G WiFi chipset with an 8x8 antenna configuration, MU-MIMO support, and adaptive beamforming technology. (See Arris, Quantenna Snag U-verse WiFi Deal, Quantenna Quickens Intel Gateways, and Quantenna Develops 'World's First' 10G WiFi.)
There are a number of a companies looking to improve home WiFi for heavy bandwidth use. However, while Quantenna continues to raise the bar on throughput, other technology providers are taking a different tack. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) recently acquired WiFi hardware and software specialist PowerCloud Systems, which developed technology that gives consumers direct control over bandwidth allocations for different devices on their home networks. (See Comcast Sweeps Up PowerCloud.)
Chipmaker Celeno Communications offers something similar with its Wi-Fi Experience Manager and OptimizAIR 2.0 Wi-Fi Access Point technology. Celeno's new mobile app software lets users prioritize bandwidth usage by device, SSID, and application. Lior Weiss, vice president of marketing for Celeno, described the approach as "intelligent WiFi versus brute force WiFi." (See Celeno Debuts Home WiFi Software.)
Despite the competitive rhetoric, the Asus launch for Quantenna is still a major coup, and the latest in a series of significant announcements for the company.
For Asus, the retail launch is also an important achievement. In addition to speed, the consumer electronics company is touting parental controls, security, and a web-based interface for network management in the new wireless gigabit router.
— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading