– But It Delays Product Shipment for Third Time so It Can Continue Beta Testing
With few exceptions, existing residential Wi-Fi products that are available at retail are woefully incapable of keeping up with the growing demand for Wi-Fi bandwidth.
More and more Wi-Fi devices are being used to stream increasing amounts of SD and HD videos streams – and that’s not including the coming avalanche of 4K TV, smartphones and tablets. 4K streams require a minimum of twice as much bandwidth as HD streams, even compressed to the maximum by the new HEVC compression technology.
And consumers now want high speed Wi-Fi in every nook and cranny of their home, even on the porch, patio and storage/work rooms.
Until now there have been two ways to spread high speed Wi-Fi throughout every home:
* Wireline-to-Wi-Fi technology over the existing coax or powerlines or the use of Ethernet cabling, which required an often costly and messy installation.
*Wi-Fi to Wi-Fi repeaters
The startup Eero has developed a new router that uses Wi-Fi mesh networking to spread Wi-Fi coverage plus provide other benefits.
Consumers will be able to buy an individual Eero router for $199 or for $499 get a three pack of units that are connected by a mesh network and placed at different deadspots. The resulting network is managed through the cloud to optimize speeds.
Eero’s router connects to Wi-Fi mesh networks
When the user connects the first Eero router to the broadband modem, Bluetooth on a smartphone is used connect to the Eero and configure it with a network name and password. Eero’s smartphone app shows broadband speed and sends notifications when there is a network problem.
The Eero products use Qualcomm’s Wi-Fi and radio chips and have 1 GB of flash memory. Eero developed its own software. The devices continuously communicate with each other to find the fastest data and best radio frequencies available. They automatically coordinate with nearby Eero devices to avoid interference that occurs when Wi-Fi devices use the same radio channels.
The company said that for median home sizes between 2,200 and 2,500 square feet, three devices are perfect.
Eero first announced in February and even took orders but the Wi-Fi problem has been more difficult to fix than it expected. But demand was there as shown by sales (but not shipments) of $2.5 million in only two weeks. The company is still not shipping and has grown to 50 employees so this week it said it had raised another $40 million to finish the product and get manufacturing revved up in China.
In announcing the new $40 million investment, Eero also said it is for the third time, this time until early 2016. Eero CEO Nick Weaver said, “If we had less stringent standards, we’d be able to get the product out the door and into your homes this month. But we don’t want to deliver a beta product. We want to deliver the future of home WiFi.” The company also said it is still in beta testing in several hundred homes.
The problem that Eero faces is probably the same one that consumers face with Wi-Fi – every residence is totally different and the variables that block or slow Wi-Fi are countless. How a Wi-Fi technology can work flawlessly in every home may be a question for the ages. Based on what we have seen at Rider Research, only a wire can efficiently spread Wi-Fi. The best we have seen so far is Actiontec’s MoCA-to-Wi-Fi router, which we have tested with good results in a single-level home of 2,400 square feet and in an adobe style apartment with thick walls and solid wooden doors.
As a back-door-in-the-Alamo, the Eero router has an Ethernet port that can be used to connect to devices with an “old-fashioned” Ethernet cable.
We question the capabilities of the Wi-Fi chips in the Eero routers. If they are any less capable than the Quantenna Wi-Fi chips that Actiontec uses, Eero may come up short – unless it expects consumers to buy an Eero for every room.
Wi-Fi’s problem is that its 2.4GHz band has great coverage but not enough speed and its 5.0GHz band has great speed but not enough coverage.
Weaver said, “Every home is slightly different. Somebody might have a really odd home geography that requires a little more handholding.” Tell me! And tell that to millions of Wi-Fi users who…
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