Moving forward, service providers are likely to become more involved in customers’ home networks, as an announcement from Calix today illustrates. The company introduced a new product dubbed GigaCenter that combines the functionality of an optical network terminal, home gateway and Wi-Fi access point – and the access point supports the new 802.11ac standard.
That standard is designed to support speeds up to one gigabit per second, enabling in-home Wi-Fi networks to better match the ultra-high-speed broadband services that growing numbers of service providers have begun to offer or that are in the planning stage.
“GigaCenter allows [the service provider] to move the demarcation point into the home, establish a managed presence and build from there,” said Calix Senior Director of Corporate Marketing Geoff Burke in an interview.
The Calix product uses a chip from Quantenna which supports the 802.11ac standard and has 4×4 MIMO and beam forming. According to Burke, the chip provides excellent propagation along with high data rates. The vast majority of homes will see 100% coverage at data rates in excess of 100 Mbps from this product, he said.
The initial business case for deploying GigaCenter will be to minimize IPTV deployment costs, Burke said. Calix cites research from MRG showing that IPTV installation times currently average more than five hours. Using high-speed Wi-Fi eliminates the need to hard wire television sets to the gateway – and can eliminate the need for a service call when customers change the configuration of their system by, for example, moving a TV set to a different room. To use the high-speed Wi-Fi connection, TV sets need an appropriate set-top box or dongle.
The new Calix offering also supports the TR-69 monitoring standard, giving service providers the ability to troubleshoot individual networked devices in the home. If there is a problem, Burke said, “you can parse it out – is it the wiring, the Wi-Fi or the wired network?”
Additionally, he said, “you can measure and prioritize and constrain what’s going on in individual devices.” A customer with a home business, for example, might prioritize the data connection on which critical business functions depend.
Capabilities such as these can help prevent service providers from simply becoming a “dumb pipe” for companies such as Google and Amazon, Burke said.
GigaCenter is expected to be available internationally next month. Burke said the cost will compare favorably with purchasing separate ONTs, gateways and access points – particularly when operators take into account the potential savings on installation and troubleshooting costs, said Burke.
The 802.11ac standard is expected to be widely adopted by set-top box manufacturers. The 802.11ac set-top boxes and other 802.11ac products such as GigaCenter could help spur adoption of higher-definition video and higher-speed broadband.