AirTies: “The home network is the new last mile”

Bülent Çelebi
Bülent Çelebi

Thomas Campbell talks Wi-Fi, the IoT and more with Airties’ Co-Founder and Chairman Bülent Çelebi

Thomas Campbell: From AirTies’ unique perspective, what are the main challenges the emergent IoT ecosystem is presenting?

Bülent Çelebi: First and foremost, the number of client devices is still exploding. Client devices on the home Wi-Fi network, including for example next-generation network-enabled video cameras, actually consume lot of network capacity. All such new traffic continues to go down the Wi-Fi path. There are also other devices that need to send small data packets, but require very low latency like for example fire alarms or movement sensors. Others may be totally battery powered need to use low-power technologies.

And reliable…

Yes reliability is a must! And that requires a different set of characteristics on the way a network performs. Today we have Bluetooth LE, ZigBee and Z-Wave to name just a few of the radio technologies addressing these concerns. Getting all of these different protocols to work together is a key challenge.

What’s the secret?

I don’t know exactly if there’s a secret. There are incompatible physical layer technologies and different protocol stacks with different user interfaces. Of course the devices themselves are also different, and to deliver something compelling today you still need a vertical solution.

Do you expect this fragmentation to only increase in the coming years

Right now the market is just getting wider and wider as fragmentation grows. At some point in the future it will start converging back.

On a research level we’ve been looking at what role we can play within this space. Mapping all these different protocols to something which is understandable by either a remote Cloud and/or a local UI is an opportunity for us.

So, how do you make Bluetooth really extend its range?

Under the hood we can use a mesh network to backhaul Bluetooth as long as it looks like it’s a local Bluetooth connection to the individual devices. If a user is using their Bluetooth enabled speakers in one room and wants move around the house with the music streaming device, they’ll want the music to continue to play and not die because of poor Bluetooth range. There are many problems like that to be solved including the low-power challenges.

And what about AirTies’ presence at this year’s Broadband World Forum?

I will be presenting at the conference, developing the themes we just talked about but with much more data and proof-points. What we’ve been saying about Wi-Fi in the last few years is now becoming integrated into CPE. You can deliver multiscreen, multi-room TV services with 4K streaming over Wi-Fi.

Clearly the home network has become the new last mile. In developed markets home Wi-Fi has become the bottleneck for delivering Digital Life. What we’re seeing, particularly in the US, is a general acknowledgement that is a problem, and people are looking for a solution. In Europe, the market is starting to talk about it, but there’s not a clear acknowledgment of the issues yet. We’ll see what attendees at this year’s BBWF have to say.

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