LAS VEGAS -- The CES show here is all about gadgets, for sure. But because most gadgets now connect to WiFi -- roughly 4.5 billion devices in use today, according to ABI Research -- the big consumer electronics show is also a good launching pad for some of the latest innovations in wireless networking.
Along those lines, two WiFi chipmakers, Celeno Communications and Quantenna Communications Inc. , both have big announcements at this year's show. Celeno is debuting its Quicksilver 802.ac Wave 2 4x4 product line, while Quantenna plans to demonstrate the 10-gigabit WiFi platform that it introduced last April. The Quantenna solution is based on 802.11ac Wave 2 with an 8x8 antenna configuration. Both companies will also showcase technologies designed to optimize WiFi performance, using a mix of data analysis and provisioning techniques. (See Quantenna Develops 'World's First' 10G WiFi.)
Chipsets supporting 802.11ac Wave 2 represent an important step forward for WiFi because they enable Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output (MU-MIMO). Besides being a mouthful, MU-MIMO technology allows wireless gateways to deliver multiple wireless streams simultaneously to different devices. In a 4x4 configuration, for example, a gateway could send two wireless streams to one client and two streams apiece to two other devices. In an 8x8 configuration, the options multiply.
New Wave 2 802.11ac chipsets are being marketed specifically for high-bandwidth applications like streaming video. They also offer a convenient boost for in-home gateways pulling double duty as WiFi hotspots. (See Quantenna Quickens Intel Gateways and Comcast Whips Up More WiFi.)
WiFi performance isn't only about horsepower, however. For instance, Quantenna has announced a new cloud-based WiFi analytics platform called Maui. According to Quantenna, Maui analyzes network conditions, diagnoses problems and issues real-time fixes automatically without requiring customer involvement. Maui's analytics specifically deal with issues around broad traffic congestion, peak-time bottlenecks, router placement and interference from client devices. Quantenna says the platform is immediately available and currently in trials with select service providers.
Celeno has taken a different tack with WiFi optimization. Included in the company's new Quicksilver product line is its OptimizAIR 2.0 quality-of-service management technology. OptimizeAIR lets users configure their WiFi routers to prioritize bandwidth delivery to different network IDs (SSIDs), services or applications, and client devices. Celeno points out that this is particularly valuable for targeting bandwidth to high-demand applications like 4K video streaming. (See Celeno Debuts Home WiFi Software.)
WiFi is a blessing and a curse at CES. While heavily in demand on the exhibit floor, delivery is often spotty. Faster, smarter WiFi solutions, like those promised by Celeno and Quantenna can't come fast enough.
— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading