In absence of any official announcements, WiFi chip manufacturer Quantenna Communications took the opportunity at Mobile World Congress to finally put substance behind the rumors that Comcast is indeed the “mystery MSO” influencing its books. The reason: “Comcast doesn’t like putting out press releases on chips, it’s really a media company after all,” said Quantenna’s Senior Director of Product Marketing James Chen, speaking to Faultline Online Reporter.
The rather convoluted issue here is Qualcomm has been in the Comcast account for some time, despite Comcast having its own in-house Plume WiFi technology for multiple APs in a mesh which use Qualcomm Atheros chips. Separately Quantenna has a mesh licensing deal in play with Turkey’s AirTies.
Clearing up the confusion, Chen explained that the new Xfinity DOCSIS 3.1 gateway, which Chen said launched in December 2017, is fitted with Quantenna’s QSR10G WiFi chip, with what it describes as Wave 3, 10G technology, while the Plume WiFi ex-tenders (or “pods”) are powered by Qualcomm 2×2 WiFi chips. The previous Xfinity gateway was running Qualcomm 3×3 chips, so Quantenna ha
Quantenna’s QSR10G WiFi chip is tailor made for APs and repeaters, suggesting there is scope to switch out Qualcomm in Plume pods too, a feat which would be a huge statement to the industry. Chen pointed out that the QSR10G offers dual-band dual-concurrent connectivity through 8×8 MIMO for 5GHz networks with a 4×4 MIMO on 2.4 GHz networks, but Comcast chose 2×2 for price and because that’s all the antennas that a smart phone has to connect to it.
Quantenna was at MWC pegging itself as the industry’s only remaining pure play WiFi chip company. Being at a mobile show, we learned about Quantenna working indirectly in the mobile market through partners Intel, Samsung, Qualcomm and Broadcom. Qualcomm is putting a lot of weight behind 8×8, particularly on the mobile side, according to Chen, marking a synergy with the mobile guys which is a new frontier for Quantenna in 2018.
Serving 60 different operators today, Quantenna has grown its customer base around 18% in the past year, and Chen noted that around 80% to 90% of the company’s 150 million chip shipments have been in the past 3 years.