By: Carl Ford
“Heterogeneous” is the word for the process of melding communications systems using wireline, Wi-Fi, and cellular technologies. I asked to interview Carnegie Technologies when they acquired SmartSwitch, as the company is one of the leaders in the heterogeneous networking space. I spoke with John Goocher, Managing Director, Matt Hovis, Chief Marketing Officer, and Ben Toner, Director of Mobility Product Management, about the acquisition and history of Carnegie Technologies.
Paul Posner, who has been a pioneer of wireless services, founded Carnegie Technologies after realizing that the vendor community had portfolio gaps in areas necessary for seamless communications. The goal was to manage disparate networks like Wi-Fi and cellular services. Along the way the feature set expanded and began to include features such as replication of packets, link aggregation (what I used to call “bonding”), dual “keep a lives,” and traffic analytics. Combined, this became Carnegie’s Network Convergence Platform (NCP) solution which aims to optimize the user experience through making and aggregating the best network connections available.
The acquisition of Smartswitch enhances the ability to provide “a consistent user experience across all devices while in the home, at work, on the move and while out and about. The innovation required to deliver such a tailored experience, in all real-world Wi-Fi conditions, has repeatedly demonstrated the value service providers can extract from their Wi-Fi assets today.”
Carnegie has developed a link aggregation capability which it says is designed to provide a smooth integration of Wi-Fi into cellular services. Although it has similarities to the much talked about Multipath TCP (MPTCP), it provides extra capabilities for supporting UDP data streams from voice apps and for delivering gapless handover. It also removes some of the technical issues faced by MPTCP, such as Head of the Line Blocking. “The combined capability of SmartSwitch and the patented link aggregation capabilities of the NCP goes directly for the maximum user experience, offering premium aggregation of data links while ensuring the best Wi-Fi has been selected in order to maximize the potential for Wi-Fi usage, which in turn eliminates congestion and cost on the cellular networks.”
Paul Posner, CEO of Carnegie Technologies, commented “many smart devices on the market today have the capability to access more than one network at a time, and we’re committed to ensuring that the users of these devices can benefit from all networks with the optimal user experience.”
Their NCP solution boasts a number of features that are pragmatic and ready for today’s network environment. For example, a Wi-Fi analytics capability continuously measures QoS and provides insights to the service providers when their customers are both on and off their network. In addition, NCP offers policy management and the ability to adapt the network selection to be just right for the customer (e.g. unlimited plan customers may use 4G if Wi-Fi is slow, whereas pre-pay customers may use more Wi-Fi regardless of quality in order to keep costs down). Their solution supports SIM authentication and HotSpot 2.0, so it is ready for all of the future Wi-Fi infrastructure.
Another aspect of the NCP with SmartSwitch is the ability to interface with the mobile core via 3GPP Access Network Discovery Selection Function (ANDSF), which in turn means their connection and aggregation policies are tuned to the Policy and Charging Rules Function (PCRF) rules and subscriber tiers. For MVNOs who do not have a mobile core, they support automatic authentication of portals using EAP methods as well as WISPr.
Carnegie Technologies is also a player in IoT where it’s also expected to offer huge benefits owing to devices’ need for continuous and reliable connections to work to their fullest potential. Regardless of a carrier’s primary strategy, I think solutions such as Carnegie Technologies’ offering are going to become more essential.