Qualcomm enters new Wi-Fi router market in deals with Charter, EE

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Qualcomm on Wednesday said it was getting into a new market for Wi-Fi routers and that Charter Communications and the UK’s EE will be among its first customers.

San Diego, California-based Qualcomm is the world’s biggest supplier of the chips that help mobile phones connect to cellular data networks, but it has also long had a business selling Wi-Fi chips for consumer Wi-Fi routers.

The company said Wednesday it is getting into a new segment of that market by selling what are known as gateways, a device often supplied by broadband carriers where a physical fiber-optic line from a carrier enters the home and is transformed into a Wi-Fi signal.

EE and Charter, which goes by the name Spectrum in the broadband market, said they will both use routers from Qualcomm starting next year.

The new devices will use a new standard called Wi-Fi 7 that id designed to help data flow faster around homes where scores of devices from phones to smart televisions often use Wi-Fi.

The new Qualcomm routers will also allow carriers to prioritize traffic from some specific apps and services such as streaming video platforms that have agreements with carriers for faster speeds, a practice that is not allowed in all jurisdictions.

But in places where it is legal, the new Qualcomm routers will make sure that the speed boost does not disappear once the traffic leaves the carrier’s fiber network and hits the customer’s home Wi-Fi.

“The operator is able to orchestrate a service as defined by the service level agreement with the app provider. And so for example, your Netflix traffic is not going to be compromised,” Rahul Patel, senior vice president and general manager for connectivity, broadband and networking at Qualcomm, told Reuters.

Qualcomm also said that it has acquired a small optical networking firm called OptiCore Technologies. Qualcomm did not disclose the price of the acquisition, saying it too small to be material to its financial results.

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