It's frustrating when you share the Internet between multiple devices and some of them hog all the bandwidth, leaving the rest crawling. Qualcomm has something that could potentially ease this pain.
The mobile chipmaker today introduced its StreamBoost technology, which is designed to "optimize performance and capacity of home networks" by enabling the home router to intelligently manage the broadband connection. Qualcomm says the new technology allots to each connected device and each application the bandwidth it needs, and no more, to ensure the best possible experience on all connected devices.
It's important to note that StreamBoost is quite different from existing Quality of Service (QoS) technology, available in many routers, that can do a similar thing. StreamBoost tailors the Internet bandwidth to make sure the prioritized application has the exact amount of bandwidth it needs at a given time, Qualcomm says, rather than a percentage of download priority at all times. This results in more bandwidth being left for the rest of the connected devices.
Another feature of StreamBoost is that it can automatically "learn" over time the Internet-related characteristics of an application and change the way its prioritization works accordingly. This is important since Internet-based applications tend to evolve rapidly. Youtube, for example, now offers more streaming options than it did a year ago. User can opt in to a cloud-based feature to contribute to making StreamBoost smarter. And if they choose to do so, they can also use it to manage their home network remotely and update how StreamBoost works dynamically, rather than via firmware revisions.
Currently the average home connects some seven devices to the Internet and this number is expected to only increase. If StreamBoost works out as Qualcomm claims, it might just be one of the most significant new home-networking features of 2013.
StreamBoost is a software service that technically can be used in any router. However, for now, it's only available in those that are based on Qualcomm's new VIVE 802.11ac chip. This, Qualcomm's first 802.11ac chip, offers up to 1.3Gbps Wi-Fi data rates and is the second 802.11ac chip on the market, following the one Broadcom introduced last year.
Qualcomm says it will be demoing StreamBoost at CES 2013, in collaboration with D-Link and Alienware. If you can't get to the show, expect the first StreamBoost-based routers on the market in spring.