With the home WiFi market heating up, Australian operator Telstra and equipment supplier Netgear have partnered to deliver what they claim is the world's first commercial deployment of an 802.11ac DOCSIS 3.0 gateway by a service provider.
Telstra Corp. Ltd. (ASX: TLS; NZK: TLS) has started installing the new customer premises equipment in conjunction with its high-speed Telstra Gateway Max service. The dual-band gateway from Netgear Inc. (Nasdaq: NTGR) includes beamforming technology for focusing wireless signals and has the potential to offer WiFi speeds of up to 1.9 Gbit/s.
The race to deploy more advanced wireless technology is happening for several reasons. For one thing, consumers are connecting more devices over WiFi and running higher-bandwidth applications on in-home networks. For another, cable operators are increasingly using subscriber access points as nodes in larger public WiFi networks. In the US, for example, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has been aggressive with this approach, and is working to use home-based access points to extend its public WiFi network to 8 million hotspots across the country. (See Comcast Whips Up More WiFi.)
Telstra also appears to be planning to use subscriber home gateways for a larger WiFi network. In a statement, Telstra Director Alan Crouch said that the new Netgear gateways are "the first in a range that will be compatible with the Telstra WiFi Network. If you have one of these new gateways, you'll be able to update the software next year to join the Telstra WiFi community.”
Telstra is scheduled to launch its nationwide network in early 2015. The company is also partnering with Fon to offer subscribers access to additional WiFi hotspots around the globe.
Greater WiFi capacity is also important to cable operators for the growing business services market and in-home TV networking. The Netgear gateway doesn't support traditional TV, but several other vendors have announced gateways that do, including Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS), which has a wireless video gateway planned for deployment with Comcast. In a new Heavy Reading Cable Insider report, analyst Craig Leddy concludes that these gateways will help cable companies retain subscribers, upsell higher-speed Internet services, and introduce more cloud-based applications. (See Cable's WiFi Video Attack.)
On the silicon front, there are a number of companies competing to deliver advanced chipsets for wireless gateways, including Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM), Quantenna Communications Inc. and Celeno Communications . Quantenna announced integration with the Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) Puma video gateway platform earlier this year. The Netgear box includes an Intel Puma processor. (See Asus, Quantenna Bring Gigabit WiFi Home and Quantenna Quickens Intel Gateways.)
Other features in the Netgear gateway include four gigabit Ethernet ports, in addition to a gigabit WAN port, a USB port, DLNA support, numerous security features, the Netgear genie application for home network management, Push 'N' Connect one-step installation and parental controls.
— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading