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CableLabs' Kyrio unit sets sights on network convergence

Kyrio, a wholly owned subsidiary of CableLabs, aims to help cable operators, mobile network operators and even MVNOs boost the quality of the customer experience with a new software-powered platform that assists them in routing customer traffic to the best available network.

That platform, called Adaptive Route Control (ARC), is focused on both fixed and wireless networks, as well as residential and business use cases.

The general idea is to provide operators with more control of the quality of experience customers get as they connect from one type of network to another, and to make that transition as seamless as possible. That transition, Kyrio says, covers wired connections made through gateways as well as wireless connections through smartphones and other types of mobile devices.

ARC uses a client/server architecture to help fixed and mobile devices locate the best available network. 
 Click here for a larger version of this image. 
 
(Source: Kyrio)
ARC uses a client/server architecture to help fixed and mobile devices locate the best available network.
Click here for a larger version of this image.
(Source: Kyrio)

ARC "is a powerful tool for network operators to improve the reliability and quality of experience for their end customers – that's what we're really aiming for," Ike Elliott, Kyrio's president, said.

Demoed by Kyrio during this week's SCTE Cable-Tec Expo, ARC is designed to find the best available network on an application-by-application basis. "We have to understand the application that is running and what are the requirements of each application type that we're trying to optimize," Mario Di Dio, Kyrio's vice president of software and network technology, said.

ARC uses a client/server architecture that includes a lightweight software agent in the gateway or the mobile device that talks to a network-side system that can be operated on-premises by the operator or hosted in the cloud by Kyrio or with third party.

The system tries to identify the best network for the application using probes and crowd sourcing-style algorithms that gather key performance indicator (KPI) data. The system then uses that data to determine the availability and quality of nearby networks and routes the user to the best one, based on the application type. If switching to another network is deemed the right move, ARC strives to make the switch in a way that's undetectable to the user.

"Other solutions had some sort of glitch as you transitioned to one network to another. We figured out a way to do it without any glitch at all," Elliot said.

And rather than relying on a user-centric connection manager app or a link aggregation app that's downloaded from an app store to help optimize the customer experience, Di Dio says handing control to the operator is another key element of ARC.

"The challenge there was to kind of flip the equation and give back the control to the operators as an over-the-top solution that can still optimize the user experience and the reliability of the connectivity," Di Dio said.

OTT approach sidesteps need for core network integration

ARC runs "over-the-top" in the sense that it does not require integration with the mobile core network, at least in the initial release. "That makes it very easy to deploy for network operators," Elliott said, noting that integrations with the mobile core network is on the ARC roadmap.

Kyrio is in trials with three operators. They haven't been identified, but Kyrio execs stressed that ARC is flexible in that it can work with fixed and mobile operators, as well as converged operators that run both types of networks. And because ARC does not require the operator to touch the mobile core, it could also work with MVNOs that don't own or operate the mobile network.

Talks are also underway with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and original design manufacturers (ODMs) that made gateways for residential and business use. "We are having very good traction with ODMs and OEMs. There's considerable interest from the manufacturing segment in ARC," Elliott said.

ARC has linkages to Intelligent Wireless Network Steering (IWiNS), a CableLabs platform announced in January that fits into the cable industry's "10G" initiative focused on 10-Gig speeds, low latency and enhanced security across wired and wireless networks. IWiNS was designed to help mobile users seamlessly move across Wi-Fi, LTE, CBRS and, possibly, C-band-based wireless networks, and also on an application-by-application basis.

Di Dio said IWiNS and ARC have some areas in common, but noted that ARC is a broader platform that supports more use cases than those for IWiNS.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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