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Summary:

Too many connected devices downloading, streaming or uploading in the home can choke a home network, and there’s not much average consumers can do about it. But Qualcomm hopes that its new StreamBooost technology will help make the router –and home networks — smarter and better.

QCA StreamBoost 3

With the explosion of connected devices in our home and more web-based services running in the background, foreground and even in the actual ground if you have some kind of Wi-Fi based garden sensor system, your router may be the most essential piece of equipment you don’t know that you own. Most people tend to stick with the wireless router their broadband provider gave them, but between MIMO, dual-band offerings and fancy software, they’ve come a long way.

And the new StreamBoost technology from Qualcomm Atheros wants to take them even further. Qualcomm Atheros is adding intelligence to the router as well as a cloud-based service that will allocate your limited home bandwidth to certain applications. Alienware and D-Link are the announced partners that plan to use this technology in their gear, and the technology should be available in commercial routers in spring. The cloud-based service tracks how much bandwidth applications like YouTube or Skype needs to show something in HD versus SD, and knows what devices you have and how many megabits per second they need.

Using this information it attempts to parcel out your home broadband to give the best quality to all of the apps you are running in your home –from iTunes downloads to BitTorrent downloads and uploads. The technology comes from Qualcomm’s acquisition of Bigfoot Networks in 2011. Killer had been well-known a controller card used inside PCs to reduce network latency. It later took that technology to other endpoints, trying to optimize network performance. But now, they are taking that experience to the router with an algorithm that can predict what app you are using and what speeds and latency it needs.

Instead of each app trying to grab as much capacity on the connection as it can, the router allocates only what it thinks the app needs. The big issue for users will be Qualcomm’s assurances that its StreamBoost technology stays up-to-date so when a site tries out anew HD codec the bandwidth is available. The technology also includes a nicer interface for the router that lets the consumer see what capacity is allocated for what apps.

Others are also trying to improve the home Wi-Fi experience using smarter router technology. We covered an academic effort to bring software-defined networking and GUI interface to help with the problem of too many devices and an overburdened connection. Basically, router technology needs to improve to meet the demands we’re placing on home networks.

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  1. Reblogged this on Simon Hamer and commented:
    Worth a review of your systems.

    Often if you are with a major supplier the threat of a move will provide you with a better modem and advice on the best routers.

  2. Yes that’s just what I want – a home router with DPI reporting my behaviors into the cloud.
    I’ll take dd-wrt + a $20 ebay MIMO N router thank you.
    Man, how hard it is to manage the bandwidth needs of 4+ people in one household?

    1. Stacey Higginbotham Hortron Friday, January 4, 2013

      The StreamBoost tech doesn’t use DPI, it uses an algorithm to predict what you are using. And the tech is in a router that you would buy not that the ISP would give you (for now anyhow).

      1. “The cloud-based service tracks how much bandwidth applications like YouTube or Skype needs to show something in HD versus SD, and knows what devices you have and how many megabits per second they need.”
        “StreamBoost technology stays up-to-date so when a site tries out anew HD codec the bandwidth is available.”

        I have no idea what DPI stands for it this case, but your article makes it clear that usage data is being sent to a cloud service that keeps track of the bandwidth demands of all the devices, services and sites you use.

  3. The broadband companies don’t give a router / modem to a customer; they charge a monthly rental fee that equates in one year to what you would pay for your own router / modem.

  4. Nhick @ IT Rush Friday, January 4, 2013

    Hmm, looks like it’s about time to change my old router though..

  5. Like everything you get what you pay for, get a Airport Extreme and be done with it.

    1. I’ve got an Airport Extreme and I like it, but my one gripe is that it has absolutely no QoS or bandwidth optimization features, which is what this device and article are about.

  6. looks like it’s about time to change mine

  7. Go for FTTH option.

  8. er. i have the samer 54Mbs router for..4 years, same provider for pretty much the same time and to my shame …i don’t feel any need for change :)

  9. The bigger question for me is will StreamBoost help with a NAS thrown in the mix – all it takes is a 100GB backup job to choke even a gigabit connection.

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