Oct 22, 2018
Qualcomm products mentioned within this post are offered by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.
This might be the last place you’d expect to find an argument made against technology integration. We are, after all, a company built on the concept of systems and technology integration, a philosophy that has accelerated the rate of innovation across the mobile industry, and helped create entirely new industries, business models and experiences — transforming economies and altering the competitive landscape.
As the saying goes, however, there are exceptions to every rule. At least, this is the case laid out in a new research brief, Home Networks and Their Impact on the Broadband Experience, published today by FeibusTech in association with Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.
For the last decade, internet service providers (ISPs) have often employed a strategy integrating the modem technology, bringing high speed internet to the home, and Wi-Fi technology, that provides wireless connectivity throughout. This strategy helped lower costs, simplify consumer choices, and make hardware inventory easy to manage and deploy.
However, any successful integration strategy, as FeibusTech explains, requires that the integrated technologies are “mature, stable, and progressing more or less in step with each other.” This was the case for years, as a mature modem ecosystem paired nicely with the emerging 802.11n Wi-Fi standard.
Things have changed.
The average number of connected devices per household began to climb, doubling in 2012, currently sitting at about seven. Content consumption in those households also spiked from around 3GB of data per month in 2008 to over 190GB today, and the mix skewed dramatically toward real-time content. By the end of 2016, nearly 75 percent of data in North America was gaming/streamed media.
These trends, of course, were no surprise to us. We have made long, game changing bets that have driven an industry transition to mesh networking, and are helping initiate the transition to Wi-Fi 6 (aka 802.11ax), both of which are designed to directly address these evolutions in usage. But, as FeibusTech concludes, “ISPs have been too slow, perhaps, to grasp that poor satisfaction for many consumers has little to do with the raw speed of the internet connection. Rather it is the poor state of the wireless network inside the home.”
Which brings us back to the integration strategy. The rate of innovation and the lack of uniformity across ISPs’ user base should necessitate a shift in strategy, toward decoupling broadband and the home network technologies. This will allow for the more rapid deployment of mesh networking, Wi-Fi 6-based solutions, and other wireless innovations aligned to the age of the Smart Home. And in the coming years, allow ISPs to diversify with wireless technologies like 5G CPE and 60 GHz Wi-Fi for fixed wireless access.
There are big opportunities today for ISPs to embrace the innovation happening across both the wireless and broadband industries. We’ll have a lot more to say about this at Broadband World Forum 2018, at the Qualcomm Technologies 4G/5G Summit 2018 and throughout 2019.