The number of homes with managed Wi-Fi will reach 294 million in 2025 from 40 million in 2020, according to Maravedis latest report, Managed Home Wi-Fi Networks for the Smart Home 2020-2025. In this edition we provide the highlights of a unique and extensive survey of service providers about their views of managed home Wi-Fi trends. The online survey took place during the September and October 2019 timeframe and gathered 218 responses, 42% of which were from service providers worldwide.
Managing the Wi-Fi experience
Managing quality of broadband experience in the home is a priority for most service providers, and Wi-Fi is at centerstage of that effort. Quality of experience now goes beyond speeds to include lower latency required to support 4/8K, gaming, and VR applications. Most operators are motivated by the reduction in opex and improvements of their NPS score, while a few in the minority attempt to monetize it or include it as part of their premium packages. As a result, service providers are now increasingly taking ownership of the Wi-Fi experience, and are on a mission to build a foundation for the connected home.
Our research shows that poor access point placement is the #1 cause of poor Wi-Fi performance. While there are many factors that can affect home Wi-Fi operation, the placement of wireless access points (APs) can be one of the most significant factors in performance. Good AP placement must provide not only adequate coverage for all clients on a network, but also provide adequate throughput, good connectivity, and minimal interference.
With the increase in low power devices (such as tablets and cell phones), and the increasing need for roaming service over nomadic use, efficient placement is critical to an operating wireless network. Poor placement of access points will result in numerous issues, including, but not limited to: low data rates, signal bleeding, bad roaming coverage, and even overspending on additional APs.
Slow Wi-Fi speed is the number one reason triggering service calls, followed closely by unstable Wi-Fi. Resolving those main pain points will result in a drop in service calls. The challenge for operators is to gain sufficient visibility into the home Wi-Fi network to understand what is causing those performance leaks—whether that be Layer 2 issues related to interference, sticky clients, overloaded gateway, etc.
Innovation for a more robust connected home Wi-Fi and IoT is ongoing at a furious pace. There are a number of ongoing initiatives to create a more agile CPE, one with an open-source, agnostic, middleware between the cloud and the home devices. The benefits of making code available to others include faster development time, faster time to market, and more cost-effective implementation.
Despite these efforts and the popularity of Easy Mesh, many service providers consider proprietary solutions as superior, and will continue deploying these until standardized solutions gain momentum. Other large service providers with sufficient resources prefer to develop their gateways and software internally, rather than buy them from external vendors. This is a crowded and challenging market for solution vendors, and some will not survive the long and complex service provider sales cycle.
IoT and security trends
Connected and IoT devices are built with no or poor security, giving intruders access into the home network and possibly personal data. Since these devices connect and interconnect from the router/gateway provided by the operator, the solution is an added layer of security embedded in the middleware and SDK app. Vendors are developing solutions using AI and ML to detect intrusions and abnormal activity, such as a camera wanting access to the smart lock.
Nevertheless, the majority of service providers are still at the early stage of any comprehensive cybersecurity offering and will face an uphill battle to educate their subscribers about the benefits of protecting their connected home if they hope to monetize new services beyond parental control. For the majority of smaller service providers, the battle of the connected home is already lost to OTTs, while the few large ones are still hoping to control the home play.
Managed Wi-Fi is a fast-growing market. We forecast that, by 2025, over 294 million broadband lines in the top thirty-four countries worldwide will have service provider managed Wi-Fi. This represents a 27% penetration of the total broadband lines in service in 2025.