[This blog is the fourth in a five-part series based on the Maravedis report “From Managed Home Wi-Fi to Enabling the Secure Smart Home 2018-2023”. Look for the other blogs, which will be published here on a weekly basis.]
As you read in my previous blogs, many home users suffer from poor Wi-Fi performance and hold their internet provider as ultimately responsible. As a result, service providers are now increasingly taking ownership of the Wi-Fi experience and are on a mission to educate their customers and manage their Wi-Fi experience for them. To this end, while some carriers sell home Wi-Fi as a service, others include it as part of their normal broadband service at no additional cost.
Operators must provide tools for the end users to improve their Wi-Fi experience, as well as arm themselves with the ammunition needed to optimize and gain a better visibility of the home Wi-Fi network, so their customer care agents can better help their customers. Maravedis interviewed several operators—from Comcast and Bell Canada, to Liberty, Swisscom, and Talk Talk—to gain their perspectives on how they tackle the problem.
The Cost of Poor Home Wi-Fi Performance
Wi-Fi performance and, by extension, user experience are frequently compromised by the adverse impact of numerous environmental factors, such as congestion, noise, and interference. A typical user is frequently unable to differentiate between various types of problems associated with poor Wi-Fi performance on the one hand, and other problems of the access network on the other hand, or in the underlying applications. Currently, there are no effective tools available for operators to efficiently evaluate subscriber Wi-Fi quality of experience (QoE). Similarly, operators are unable to diagnose and solve Wi-Fi-related issues or to differentiate Wi-Fi-related degradations from other causes of poor customer experience.
Likewise, subscribers are typically unable to resolve their Wi-Fi issues and have to contact their service providers. For service providers, this inability of customers to solve Wi-Fi problems results in high operating costs stemming from ineffective or lengthy support calls, costly “truck rolls” for on-site service, and CPE (customer premise equipment) replacement. Accordingly, due to the aforementioned lack of effective tools to diagnose and solve Wi-Fi-related issues, operators’ attempts are frequently ineffective. This leads to many return calls and visits, generating higher levels of customer dissatisfaction.
In this context, the solutions to the issue of Wi-Fi problems include enhanced diagnostics, fault and performance monitoring, troubleshooting, re-configuration, and optimization.
Below are key statistics from Calix’s own research on the consequences of poor Wi-Fi performance.
This data demonstrates that the problem is real and requires a solution that will work for all parties involved. Unless such a solution is found, the consequences of poor Wi-Fi performance, across all service providers, will invariably include higher costs (OpEx), lower customer satisfaction (net promoter scores), more churn, and less revenue.
For many operators, including Liberty with whom we spoke for the preparation of our report “From Managed Home Wi-Fi to Enabling the Secure Smart Home 2018-2023”, there are two objectives with managed home Wi-Fi:
- ensure the Wi-Fi experience is enjoyed fully around the home with proper coverage; and
- ensure the performance can match the speed delivered to the home with radio resource management and orchestration activities, such as: band steering between 2.4 and 5 GHz, airtime fairness between devices, client steering, or coordination between access points (to name a few).
Some operators that we interviewed believe that a majority of homes will be well covered with one single gateway—especially if it has more than 4x4 radios. This is expected to be ideal to maintain lower costs but in the 30 percent or so cases, there will be a need for a second, third or fourth access point in the home.
Swisscom indicated that the biggest use case is to use Wi-Fi as a video bridge, where the Set-top Box (STB) is connected by Ethernet to the WLAN box. The WLAN box itself is connected with WLAN backhaul to the gateway. On top of it, the WLAN gets improved, as it also acts as a managed WLAN repeater. The second most popular use case for Swisscom is to add a second Wi-Fi extender.
Some operators, however, indicated that most homes would need at least a second AP, which will be backhauled wirelessly, as MoCA and Ethernet are not always available.
Managing home Wi-Fi involves many aspects, and the corresponding technology solutions in supply reflect this complexity. There is no one single approach to solve all coverage and performance problems and, consequently, service providers are opting for various approaches to resolving fronthaul and backhaul issues. Wi-Fi is at the center of every operator’s home strategy and resolving the coverage and capacity issue is just the first step, but a necessary one to own the connected home experience.
When it comes to Managed Wi-Fi, Calix has worked with dozens of service providers, offering them a Carrier Class Wi-Fi solution that includes the Calix GigaCenter, Calix Support Cloud, and Calix 804Mesh satellite units.
For more information on the importance of Managed Wi-Fi, you can read the blog “Evolution of the Smart Home: Three Steps in the Journey”.
Also, please register for the December 4 webcast, “Elevate your game in 2019: Elevate your services and revenue by capturing the smart home opportunity.” We’ll discuss:
- market dynamics and the importance of the war for the smart home;
- how service providers can change the game and their business model; and
the best way to elevate your service, your brand, the user experience, and your revenue with the Calix Smart Home and Business solution.