Midcontinent to deploy in-home 'intelligent Wi-Fi network' with vendor AirTies

Midcontinent Communications said it plans to provide new Wi-Fi access points to its customers from AirTies Wireless Networks in a bid to improve the performance of customers' home Wi-Fi networks.

Midcontinent will deploy AirTies' 4920 access points.

"At Midcontinent, we see our customers' bandwidth consumption doubling every 18 months -- and more devices than ever are dependent on the in-home wireless network," said Jon Pederson, Midcontinent's CTO. "The AirTies approach will help our customers enhance their in-home wireless performance and coverage."

Midcontinent is deploying DOCSIS 3.1-powered, "Midco Gig"-branded 1 Gbps Internet services to its 300,000 customers across Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, with the goal of covering its entire footprint with the technology by the end of 2017. The MSO said it will use AirTies' Air 4920 wireless Smart Mesh APs (Access Points) to offer an "ultra-performance in-home Wi-Fi." The operator declined to provide details of its deal with AirTies, including whether it would charge customers extra for the AirTies APs. The company promised it would provide additional information about its AirTies service launch later this year.

Istanbul-based startup AirTies launched in 2004 with the goal of improving the performance of Wi-Fi networks in customers' homes. Today, the privately held company counts 275 employees, including 115 in research and development, and has sold 10 million Wi-Fi access points through its European customers, which include Vodafone, Sky, Orange and others. The company today announced it is opening an office in Silicon Valley with a handful of employees, led by Oz Yildirim, AirTies' general manager of North America, with the goal of selling its hardware and technology to U.S. telco and cable operators. The company said its technology is currently being tested by a handful of U.S. service providers; the company declined to name the companies.

"The difference between us and a standard [Wi-Fi] repeater [or extender] is that we create an intelligent network," explained Bulent Celebi, AirTies' co-founder and executive chairman. "We have the network decide where the mobile device should connect to."

Celebi said users put AirTies access points in rooms where they have poor Wi-Fi coverage, and then connect those APs to their home's main Internet Wi-Fi gateway. The AirTies access points can route Wi-Fi traffic throughout users' houses using Ethernet, MoCA, PLC or AirTies Wireless Mesh connections. Celebi said the system then ensures that devices like smartphones and tablets are connected to the closest and strongest Wi-Fi signal by essentially turning off access points that are farther away.

"You need to manage the clients because they are a big source of the problem," he said.

Operators are "deploying faster and faster broadband, but the consumers aren't seeing it," Celebi said, explaining that Wi-Fi signals often can't travel through building materials like tile and concrete. Moreover, he said, smartphones and other mobile devices often get stuck on access points that aren't providing the best signal. "Many of the operators are recognizing that they need to manage the in-home network."

AirTies isn't the only company working to improve the in-home Wi-Fi situation for the customers of service providers. Companies like Hitron and Arris continue to improve the Wi-Fi performance of their CPE for service providers. And in the direct-to-consumer category, Google recently announced its own OnHub modem, and startups like Luma are offering mesh networking to residential Wi-Fi customers.

For more:
- see this AirTies release and this Midcontinent announcement

Related articles:
Wi-Fi Alliance presents coexistence guidelines; LTE-Forum revises specs to ensure LTE-U coexistence with Wi-Fi
FreedomPop partners with Intel to launch Wi-Fi-first smartphone in 2016
Midcontinent expands into home automation with Comporium deal