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Analyst Insights Faultline: Technicolor appears undecided between the two video WiFi leaders
Feb 23, 2012 – Rethink Research

The Technicolor deal announced this week by Quantenna is a curious one and we are going to have to make a number of educated guesses to make sense of it here. First off, the second largest set top maker in the world needs to have as many connectivity options as it can, but curiously at CES we saw Technicolor boxes in the Celeno suite, a great rival to Quantenna, so it had only just completed one integration with one video capable WiFi, so why would it need another so soon?  
 
Technicolor announced plans this week to incorporate Quantenna’s 802.11n Wi-Fi MIMO chips into its new VDSL home gateways, as well as into a dedicated Wi-Fi access point, one HD DVR design and its Media Servers, as well as Technicolor's all-in-one Media Gateway platform. That’s five very different devices. These are all products that can be installed by telcos, and there are two conspicuous telcos at the heart of Quantenna as investors, both Swisscom Ventures and Telefonica.  
 
It could be that news of the Celeno Technicolor implementation found its way to Quantenna at CES and it immediately went into a huddle with its investors, knowing full well that Telefonica in particular has made it clear that it wants to install Quantenna chips, and used this to get commitment from the second largest set top maker – on the back of order promises for one or other of Swisscom or Telefonica.  
 
That’s intelligent use of your investors, but also a great way to catch up in a market where it has trailed Celeno by around 18 months. Once it has a Technicolor integration, then Technicolor might just as easily take either chip, Quantenna or Celeno, into new RFPs. Given the number of devices it has implemented the Quantenna chip into, it’s pretty sure that this is now the easier way to go of the two – but of course the depends on what the operator wants.  
 
Celeno and Quantenna have highlighted that operator acquired WiFi for video carriage around the home could be responsible for as much as 10% of the world’s future WiFi chips in 2012, and that’s why the two are so competitive and aggressive and prone to reacting directly to everything the other one does. Quantenna is convinced it can win any head to head tests and has offered a “bake off” with Celeno, which claims instead that it has separate paths for video and other data and this gives it an edge. Quantenna insists that no WiFi chip can do that.  
 
If Quantenna comes out and announces a win using Technicolor devices at either Swisscom or Telefonica, then the marketplace has not changed a jot – they were always going to Quantenna (although they may not have always been going to Technicolor). What would be more significant would be if either of the WiFi suppliers were walked into the major customers of Technicolor, particularly DirecTV in the US, as well as its associated companies in Latin America, and Sky in Europe. Celeno has already won the battle for one of Technicolor’s largest customers at UPC, part of Liberty Global in the Netherlands, in its well documented Horizon box.  
 
Quantenna CEO Sam Heidari says that Celeno won this at a time when Quantenna was not on the market, but regardless, the Horizon has taken the shine off the Technicolor relationship with UPC, and the experience will have hurt Technicolor. It will have wanted to make sure that no-one could push it out of top of the line hybrid products again at any more of its major customers, and will have wanted to be able to say that it has both Celeno and Quantenna up its sleeve, whatever the customer wants.  
 
The two implementations will have been very different because one of them would need to find a safe haven for three antennas inside the box, and the other would have needed four interference free locations.  
 
Technicolor said that tests it conducted have shown the Quantenna system offers IP packet losses of less than one in 100 million and to be honest the Celeno implementation at Technicolor never quite came with this level of endorsement.  
 
Back in January Celeno said that its chips had been chosen by Technicolor for its MediaEncore all-in-one Digital Home Platform, which it also said was for IPTV  
HD viewing as well as OTT video distribution, VoIP, multi-player gaming, and Internet surfing – also in the dual band of both 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz.  
 
Can it be that Technicolor has been talked out of the Celeno chip so quickly, or is the two implementations are both responses to different operator RFPs – perhaps the Celeno one was for one of its declared wins like Deutsche Telekom and this new deal is for Telefonica or Swisscom. So as far as we are concerned this announcement does not break the deadlock between these two companies.

Courtesy Rethink Research.



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