The last couple of years has seen rapid proliferation of mesh networking kits / whole-home Wi-Fi systems in the market. Recent market research suggests that the mesh network segment is almost up to a quarter of the whole Wi-Fi router market. Almost all of the Wi-Fi system kits currently in the market (such as the Netgear Orbi, TP-Link Deco, D-Link Covr, Luma, eero etc.) are based on Qualcomm silicon. Notable exceptions are the Securifi Almond 3, Amped Wireless Ally, and the Ubiquiti Networks AmplifiHD.
As part of the 2017 Computex announcements, Qualcomm is taking the lead in formalizing the roadmap for mesh routers. Most of the mesh networking features are based on Qualcomm’s Wi-Fi SON (self-organizing networks) set of firmware features. Qualcomm is terming the current set of features as ‘Mesh Networking 1.0’. Today’s announcement is a reference design (the Qualcomm Mesh Networking Platform) which includes / improves these existing features, and also adds some IoT functionality.
The reference design is based on the IPQ40x8/9 platform with Wi-Fi SON functionality integrated. The IPQ40x8/9 is Qualcomm’s dual-radio networking SoC, which has the option to add a third radio via its PCIe lanes. As part of a reference design for the next-generation mesh networking systems, the following features are added as part of the firmware and accompanying hardware to the SoC:
- IoT connectivity feature suite – A 802.15.4 (ZigBee) radio, as well as Bluetooth (with the CSRmesh functionality), has been added to enable the new systems to interact directly with smart home devices (without the need for an IP bridge in the middle). Since ZigBee and Bluetooth also operate in the 2.4 GHz band, Qualcomm has added interference mitigation to the board design so that the ZigBee and Bluetooth connectivity don’t impact the performance of the Wi-Fi sub-system.
- Voice assistant capabilities – The popularity of voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home, etc. has resulted…