Already, the major internet providers are offering adaptive WiFi to improve reception from the traditional router stuck in one corner of the hall or living room. As residential digital devices and data footprints expand, those with traditional WiFi find worsening slowdowns, regular reboots, and worries about ISP downtime a growing part of home life.
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Homes need smarter WiFi
Adaptive WiFi has been around for years in the form of high-end WiFi devices aimed at professionals or gamers and smart router bundles available from a growing number of tech brands. Yet for most, that old box in the corner, perhaps with a powerline extender to drag the signal upstairs represents a more realistic consumer experience.
Older routers broadcast a constant signal to a limited radius, responding to any requests for bandwidth. Whoever the CSP, most of the WiFi routers they provide now use 5GHz technology to improve range and signal quality. However, these routers are still relatively dumb. This need for CSPs to evolve is made more pressing as broadband speeds reach a practical maximum for home users. Local contention and congestion issues impact any maximum advertised speed, so offering a broader range of services will improve consumer sentiment and sense of value beyond that single raw speed figure.
As adaptive WiFi becomes more common in residential environments, it will not only offer higher speeds through the use of 9.6GHz radio, but also support the increasing number of devices Americans have in their homes. One prediction suggests homes will have as many as 50 connected devices by 2023, which traditional routers can’t handle.
The power of adaptive WiFi, plus support for smarter back-end services like self-support and management, will increase the appeal of CSP offerings to consumers. In their modern homes with many devices competing for bandwidth, adaptive WiFi routers can identify devices and understand their bandwidth needs. As a result, a smart home camera or doorbell gets only the bandwidth it needs, allowing a 4K movie stream or intense gameplay session to get all the prioritized bandwidth they require.
Modern beamforming technology in adaptive WiFi devices means the signal remains strong and there’s no buffering or lag. Larger homes can improve the signal further using booster devices that extend the range and quality of signals.
Delivering a better-managed network
Another benefit of adaptive WiFi is that it can power smart networks, which are easier to manage and control from the consumer’s perspective. These networks accommodate smartphone apps, which can identify devices and allow for parental controls to prevent younger family members from playing or chatting into the night.
Smart networks also deliver security benefits, as they’re able to monitor threats, block malware or unexpected access attempts, and reduce the number of adverts that can plague users. With many home consumers unaware of the risks of malware, spyware, and other threats, being able to handle it automatically is a strong selling point.
As more properties become smart homes, only adaptive WiFi can self-optimize to handle the growing number of devices and their bandwidth demands. This is particularly important as smart kitchens, bathrooms, garages, and even smart cars get in on the act, requiring updates, sending alerts, and providing 24/7 monitoring.
Service providers need to deliver the future now
As broadband speeds improve thanks to fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP), 5G networks, and other innovations, consumers are starting to expect more from their broadband, and awareness is growing about how poor some existing services are.
Those who have been working from home during COVID-19 are also becoming aware of the real value of their network, as they realize that they’d like to work from the garden or that they need more speed in the new attic home-office.
The opportunity to attract new customers, retain more existing users, and offer a better service than competitors is key. These efforts are largely focused on the power of adaptive WiFi and similar offerings to appeal to the modern home with its many devices and increasingly demanding users.
With improved customer service and offerings helping to reduce churn, many CSPs will look to providing smart home gadgets along with other mobile devices as part of a package that increases customer loyalty, but this is a losing strategy. The only way CSPs can compete is by moving their service offerings to the cloud so that they can quickly add, roll out, and upgrade value-added service at scale.
The challenge for CSPs to evolve is made more pressing as broadband speeds reach a practical maximum for home users. Local contention and congestion issues impact any maximum advertised speed, so offering a broader range of services will improve consumer sentiment and sense of value beyond that single raw speed figure.
Plume provides adaptive WiFi devices, software, and services for over 220 CSPs around the world, and its technology features in the hardware of several major brands. As smart homes become increasingly popular, improved performance, convenience, and security will all be high on the shopping list as consumers look to upgrade.
Clear messaging is required to highlight the improvements that adaptive WiFi offers over previous generations. Active campaigns to get consumers checking their broadband speeds and its impact from different places around the home will help people identify a need for improvement and encourage them to move on from current providers.
Offering an improved and easier customer-service experience with less reliance on traditional support can help position CSPs as far removed from the support hold queues that still plague some users. While positioning your CSP as providing access as a gateway to the smart home will help create a broader sense of value that goes beyond traditional service providers.
All of this needs to be done rapidly as the major players are already looking to move forward, with telcos promoting 5G plans as replacements for home broadband. These and triple-play or quad-play providers will all be seeking competitive advantage, but the larger they are, the harder it will be to position themselves as cutting edge or offering something new.
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