Calix unveiled new smart home focused products at their ConneXions event this week, taking place in Las Vegas. The new GigaSpire platform aims to arm broadband carriers with services that help them better compete in the newest battleground for subscriber loyalty, the smart home.
The premise behind GigaSpire suggests that service providers should pursue a smart home-as-a-service approach and offer an alternative to the patchwork of smart home applications that consumers must now manage on their own. It’s an interesting, yet challenging premise.
To do so, broadband providers will need to go to battle with a wide variety of companies who are now aiming to capture growing smart home revenue as their own, including blue chip technology companies like Google and Amazon. Those two are joined by a growing number of device manufacturers from well known brands like Netgear and Linksys to emerging smart home ecosystem enablers like Ring and Iris.
Patching all of these platforms together can be challenging and frustrating to end customers, and service providers often get the brunt of this frustration in the form of tech support inquiries, whether it’s the provider’s fault or not. Many providers have ventured into managed Wi-Fi services to help curtail this issue, while hoping to generate additional revenue in the process. GigaSpire takes this strategy much further.
It’s a smart home platform that combines a Wi-Fi gateway with a smart home IoT management ecosystem. In an analyst briefing, Calix EVP of Field Operations Michael Weening says GigaSpire far surpasses any Wi-Fi gateway platform that end customers can buy from any retail or online environment.
GigaSpire runs Calix’s EXOS operating system, which was introduced last year and extends their AXOS access operating system platform into the customer premises. Other GigaSpire features include:
- Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) capable, with up to 12 Wi-Fi streams
- Intelligent bandwidth optimization using MU-MIMO technology
- Universal and managed IoT supporting Zigbee, ZWave, combo BlueTooth Low-Energy and BlueTooth Classic
- Amazon Alexa is integrated into the GigaSpire MAX
- Instrumentation and analytics providing telemetry, performance and behavioral analytics that CSPs can leverage through the Calix Cloud
Calix also intends to build an ecosystem of smart home applications that will ride the GigaSpire platform, allowing service providers to offer and perhaps monetize smart home IoT applications. Examples provided include smart home device management, home security and network security.
Two Calix customers are acting as launch customers for GigaSpire, including Nebraska-based Allo Communications and Dubai-based du.
“Calix has been a great partner as we’ve built up our home Wi-Fi enabling the best connectivity but also the best customer service through ongoing network management,” said Brad Moline, president and CEO of ALLO Communications in press release. “This new smart home solution is anticipated to build on that connectivity advantage and really put it to use by delivering customized and differentiated service bundles to our subscribers.”
Smart Home-as-a-Service Goals
Calix’s goal with GigaSpire is to create an end-to-end smart home platform that service providers can take to the residential market and offer smart home-as-a-service. Whether that’s through better integration of existing smart home applications customer’s already have, or by introducing new ones through a smart home app ecosystem enabled through Calix designated partners. Calix will extend the GigaSpire platform to the SMB segment with a business focused smart IoT platform in 2019.
It’s an approach that makes great logical sense. The challenge may be in how to market and sell it. These are complex issues, both for end consumers, and for the customer facing representatives who have to market and sell them. Developing the right message and value proposition that resonates with customers and communicating it well will be key. That’s not an insignificant issue to overcome.