Las Vegas -- Calix ConneXions 2018 -- Countless service providers want in on the smart home market. They want to advise residential subscribers and provide them with a platform-based solution that seamlessly integrates multiple vendors' countless devices on myriad operating systems, rather than answer irate phone complaints about lackluster WiFi performance -- an issue that may or may not have anything to do with the real cause of the home user's headache.
Calix expects its newly released GigaSpire powered by EXOS with built-in WiFi 6 and Amazon Alexa to resolve these hurdles and provide operators with the platform-based foundation to build a services-oriented smart homes business, said Michael Weening, Executive Vice President, Global Sales, Marketing and Services at Calix, during a keynote at Calix ConneXions in Las Vegas.
"Because it is better than anything you can get at any electronics store, it brings differentiation," Weening said. "It is not available at Best Buy."
Speeds and feeds
Calix GigaSpire smart home system with EXOS currently is available in two models -- GigaSpire Blast and GigaSpire Max. Both deliver carrier-class WiFi 6 (a.k.a. 802.11ax). GigaSpire Max supports other protocols including Zigbee, ZWave, combo BlueTooth Low-Energy and BlueTooth Classic and features built-in Amazon Alexa. The Amazon Alexa integration simplifies service-provider operations and enhances user experience, according to Calix. After all, consumers increasingly rely on voice to operate smartphones and Internet of Things devices, and Amazon Alexa is the operating system of choice -- beating out alternatives such as Google Voice, Apple Siri and Microsoft Cortana, researchers find.
Both models include 12 WiFi streams, eight of which are available to WiFi backhaul. GigaSpire can connect "hundreds of devices" throughout a home or business, Calix said. GigaSpire integrates MU-MIMO technology to support up to eight simultaneous symmetrical data streams to expand network capacity, enhance efficiency and optimize bandwidth delivery.
To support residential customers' busy lives and smart homes' constant needs, GigaSpire taps EXOS' always-on capabilities. EXOS is a modular software architecture that doesn't go offline for maintenance or upgrades, resulting in fewer disruptions and service providers' ability to assure residential customers about the constant availability of IoT devices' capabilities, such as security, monitoring of children or elderly relatives and thermostat control.
Speaking of security, GigaSpire includes hardware- and software-based security. The chipset features physical unclonable functions (PUF) that create a digital fingerprint that cannot be spoofed, according to Calix. This translates to network authentication at the gateway, reducing the risk of unauthorized devices attaching themselves to homeowners' networks. EXOS was designed to work with multiple security applications so operators can add their preferred software applications for multiple security layers, Calix noted.
Analyze this, and this and that
Google's ability to analyze the trove of data it collects is one primary reason for the company's success, said Calix's Weening. By including "advanced instrumentation" in GigaSpire, Calix equips providers with telemetry, performance and behavioral analytics they can use in Calix Cloud to monitor network performance, upsell based on customers' preferences and past purchases and proactively troubleshoot issues before subscribers feel any weakening of their broadband's function.
"You can now look across entire broadband network to see if there are areas of problems and be proactive or see if you're kicking butt all across the network, then use [that data] for marketing," Weening said. "We believe data is the key. Revenue is about happiness. If you generate more revenue, it's because your customers are getting more value. Everybody's pivoting towards 'how do we help you sell these services?' "
Many service providers focus on enhancing the family experience, creating a great experience with and for customers, he continued. They also, of course, want and need to generate revenue -- especially wider margins, noted Weening. Monetarily rewarding services that reduce churn, cement relationships and improve subscribers' lives benefit all, he said. The ecosystem, the platform environment, is designed to evolve as CSPs, app developers, small and midsize businesses and others see and sate demand for smart-home and related areas -- think telemedicine, aging in place, keeping watch on doted pets and SMBs.
That's because, in the "near future," the developer plans to launch Calix Solutions Exchange -- an app store-like center full of native software containers that CSPs can pick and choose from, depending on existing or prospective customer needs or vertical markets operators wish to pursue, Weening explained. Keeping in mind that Weening came from Salesforce, this approach from Calix makes a lot of sense, especially when married to Calix's modular, software-based platform strategy for removing complexity from operators' sophisticated infrastructures while simultaneously adding new capabilities.
"The Calix GigaSpire smart home systems include all of the advanced features and functionality service providers need to respond to changing subscriber demands," said Shane Eleniak, senior vice president of Platforms at Calix. "The fact that it's only available to service providers will allow them to elevate their position in subscribers' lives and deliver a solution that is future-proof. Instead of a capital expense, their smart home systems will become a strategic weapon and a platform for growth."
— Alison Diana, Editor, Broadband World News. Follow us on Twitter or @alisoncdiana.