Celeno to steal first US deal out from under Quantenna’s nose

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Israeli WiFi chipmaker Celeno, burst on the scene in 2010 when it got a boost from a China Telecom order for WiFi within its set tops, and it followed that up with deals at Deutsche Telekom and finally Liberty Global, before great rival US, Quantenna began to soak up tier 1 WiFi deals.

Both Qualcomm’s Atheros and Broadcom were left side lined in operator controlled set tops and home gateways – what amount-ed to just 10% of the WiFi pie, back then, because getting WiFi into phones carried all the volume.

The secret to the Quantenna successes at AT&T, DirecTV, Orange and Telefonica, was a full spec of the 802.11n and subsequent two waves of 802.11AC chips, which had exceptional beamforming – something that Celeno was also supposed to be a master of.

Last week it re-emerged with a fairly unspecified deal with Sam-sung, almost certainly an integration which means there is another tier 1 deal in the offing, but nobody is talking. A deal as influential as the one they shared at Liberty Global could pivot Celeno back into the limelight. Talking to CEO Gilad Rozen this week, he told us, “The last year has been really busy for Celeno. Our CL2400 silicon and ControlAIR software have certainly hit the mark in the industry as they respond to very real pain points. This is evidenced by over 20 OEMs and Service Providers deals, including large tier 1s in North America, Europe and Asia. Our products have also been integrated with leading SoCs for multiple applications.”

That seems to suggest that instead of purely producing chips of its own, Celeno is also going down the licensing route to putting its WiFi know-how into other chips. Back in January it did announced a deal with Airgain to combine its WiFi know how with AirGain’s expertise in RF and smart antennas, and in October last

year NXP put out a joint reference design for high-end gateways and smart WiFi extenders working with Celeno. As we say, these integration deals always tend to be triggered by a design win at a large operator.

With the exception of the 8 way MIMO chip from Quantenna, Celeno’s latest product should have all the capabilities of anything on the market, including the Wave 2 MU-MIMO specification support-ing 4 concurrent streams. When it first came onto the scene is was supporting MIMO but offered 3 radios talking through any of 6 antennas, and was blind-sided by Quantenna when it came out with a full 4 x 4 set up.

Now it offers a system with wider 160MHz and 80+80MHz channels and a DSP-based spectrum scanner and analyser. It is well known for its OptimizAIR 2.0 Airtime Management technology which does frequent DFS channels selections to ensure it is always in the best available channel.

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