Wi-Fi Is the Achilles Heel of Broadband

Service providers are on the brink of a major shift in opportunity, according Karsten Gewecke, equipment maker ZyXEL’s VP of service providers & key accounts in Europe.

“The explosion in the numbers of bandwidth-hungry devices is putting immense pressure on Wi-Fi demand” he said, “and service providers need to look at their options in order to offer exceptional user experiences”.

Gewecke might have added, but didn’t, that consumers have the same problems as service providers but that consumers’ urgency is here now – not “on the brink.”


Home bandwidth urgency


The fact is that companies that make Wi-Fi devices, like ZyXEL, led on by the makers of Wi-Fi chips, have misled consumers about what Wi-Fi is capable. It is not, in most cases, capable of whole-home coverage, nor does it have the bandwidth to handle as many video streams as consumers need in this pre-4K era, a problem that the coming tsunami of 4K devices – TVs, smartphones and tablets – will overwhelm.


The Home Needs a Wireline-based Backbone

When The Online Reporter tried ordinary Wi-Fi extenders in our test home this summer, they had the same limitations as the router – a shortage of bandwidth and limited coverage.

The only solutions we have found so far are powerline and coax-based Wi-Fi extenders.

Of the two, the coax-based one has far and away performed the best. The Actiontec WCB6200Q MoCA 2.0 to 11ac Wi-Fi adapter and extender provided 80 Mbps of Wi-Fi in a bedroom on an iPhone 5 that was using ASSIA’s CloudCheck to measure the Wi-Fi speed in a room where the 5.0 MHz band from the router did not reach at all and the 2.4 MHz band was less that 10 Mbps. That test was conducted comparing Asustek’s very newest top-of-the-line router – one of those with antennas sticking out – and which was placed in the very center of the home on an open top shelf about 10 feet high.

The powerline-based extenders we tested did not come close to providing those speeds.


Wi-Fi Is the Service Providers’ Nemesis

Using the title “Wi-Fi, the Achilles Heel of FTTH,” Gewecke told an audience at Broadband World Forum last month, that Wi-Fi related concerns come back to being an issue for the service providers and how they can embrace this and become part of the solution.

He said that slow performance and coverage limitations are a major issue for service providers and as the demand on Wi-Fi rises in line with the ever-increasing rates of video streaming and 4K video, customers are looking at service providers more and more to solve any Wi-Fi related crisis.

That is a message that The Online Reporter has been giving for almost two years.

Gewecke said, “Next Gen CPE and Wave 2 Wi-Fi technologies will help address some of the issues that we are facing, offering coverage, speed and user experience improvements. Service providers need to look at what is already in place in their networks and find a solution that fits. With easy set-up, network discovery, network diagnostics & troubleshooting and remote management, ZyXEL’s ONE Connect and Wi-Fi excellence solutions are answering these issues on a global scale. Service providers are looking at ways to address the coverage issue proactively whilst ensuring they remain in complete control of their networks. With this ever-increasing demand for full in-house coverage, we are seeing a trend towards additional Access Points and Wi-Fi extenders.”


The Two Problems Poor Wi-Fi Causes Service Providers

There are two problems for service providers who are spending billions to build better broadband networks:

1. Using Wi-Fi to deliver pay TV is much, much easier than installing wires in the home but since Wi-Fi, by and large, is not a whole-home solution, subscribers will be quick to complain and cancel their service when the pay TV video starts flickering.

2. When viewing devices that are connected to the home’s broadband network by Wi-Fi start flickering, subscribers will start calling the service provider, complaining about their broadband speed, not their Wi-Fi speed. That’ll drive up the cost of customer support and tempt subscribers to look elsewhere.

Service providers and consumers need a better way to measure Wi-Fi speeds in…

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About the Author

The Online Reporter is the weekly subscription-based strategy bulletin about the enabling technologies of broadband, Wi-Fi, HDR, home networks, UHD 4K TV & OTT services; identifying trends in the Digital Media space. Only a fraction of our material here is published here. To see 4 free copies, follow the links above or go to www.onlinereporter.com/trial-subscription/

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