Curtains drawn on SoftAtHome Smart WiFi show at Swisscom


French TV software player SoftAtHome has at last revealed that its Smart WiFi system is installed at long-term customer and share-holder Swisscom, powering the new recently introduced WLAN-Box. The Swiss operator has had a busy year tweaking its internet and TV services, so SoftAtHome was a natural fit having already deployed the vendor’s software stack in its home gateway.

Unlike the mesh networking technologies we at Faultline Online Reporter have talked up on multiple occasions, SoftAtHome’s Smart WiFi system uses what it calls Intelligent Channel Selection and Instant Steering technologies to achieve a similar, yet differ-ent, solution for WiFi connectivity issues.

The new WLAN-Box is described as a 3-in-1 Access Point (AP) de-vice, serving as an extender, a repeater and a video bridge. Other WiFi packages come with multiple APs placed around the home for increased network efficiency, but Swisscom believes pushing consumers to buy multiple retail devices is a drawback. This is why Swisscom has moved away from a previous system it sold, supplied by AirTies, the Turkish WiFi specialist which has too stepped back from the retail sector.

The idea is that a subscriber runs the software on their existing Swisscom set top and installs one extra WLAN-Box, costing just $79.60, with the intelligent WiFi software, meaning, in theory, there is no need to buy additional repeaters or APs as the one in the set top acts as a central Smart WiFi hub.

Of course, there is no harm in fitting a larger home with further APs to further improve connectivity, and the SoftAtHome-powered Swisscom system can support this using a star topology – by steering WiFi clients to the AP deemed best for delivery per-formance.

SoftAtHome says its steering algorithms adapt to user device be-havior to constantly optimize performance – prioritizing time-critical traffic such as multicast IPTV. It then applies AI-based ana-lytics hosted in the cloud to help teams locate and fix network is-sues before they occur.

Prior to rolling out the WLAN-Box, Swisscom conducted a field trial with 1,000 employees. The resulting survey showed that 54% of users said coverage was much better, while 24% said it was slightly better. Speed received similar ratings, with 38% say-ing it was much faster, and 23% saying it was slightly faster.

The WLAN-Box runs a 4×4 Broadcom WiFi chip, which is interest-ing because SoftAtHome recently said that its software is chip in-dependent and talked about another installation where it was powered by a Quantenna QV860 chipset.

Swisscom’s WiFi products and services will soon face another test, as it is due to roll out extra features to subscribers of the multi-room Swisscom TV 2.0 service this month, including access to additional content, personalization features, organization of content around 20 themes, a voice-controlled remote and new apps. Swisscom TV is also available on mobile devices and PCs.

On top of this, Swisscom recently launched a new set top UI, which is on the existing Google Android TV software, but refers to it as a revamped operating system which it calls Entertainment OS3. It is likely this is something written on top of Android TV, by Swisscom. It can understand voice commands in Swiss German, standard German, French, Italian and English, which does not make it clear where the natural language is sourced.

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Mr. Fellah, is a Senior Analyst and founder of Maravedis with 20-year experience in the wireless industry. He authored various landmark reports on Wi-Fi, LTE, 4G and technology trends in various industries including retail, restaurant and hospitality. He is regularly asked to speak at leading wireless and marketing events and to contribute to various influential portals and magazines such as RCR Wireless, 4G 360, Rethink Wireless, The Mobile Network, Telecom Reseller to name a few. He is a Certified Wireless Network Administrator (CWNA) and Certified Wireless Technology Specialist (CWTS).


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