Qualcomm sees Wi-Fi as weak link in smart homes - Mobile World Live

Qualcomm sees Wi-Fi as weak link in smart homes

25 OCT 2018

LIVE FROM BROADBAND WORLD FORUM 2018, BERLIN: Rahul Patel, general manager of the connectivity business at Qualcomm (pictured), believes the slow rollout of advanced Wi-Fi technology is a problem for the smart home sector, and warned poor performance could end up causing significant issues for operators.

As the connected home becomes a reality and users hook up ever more consumer electronics and IoT devices to the wireless networks, issues including coverage, capacity, speed and reliability come to the fore. Providing a robust connectivity platform was pegged as the central tenet for operator’s connected home propositions by executives here this week and there is a real problem for Wi-Fi as the weakest link.

In a keynote session, Patel argued while development of the wireless technology has continued apace, developments in fixed-line broadband networks have not been as fast. And with Wi-Fi generally an integrated component of routers, slow replacement rates have hampered adoption of more capable Wi-Fi iterations.

“If you keep integrating it into one part, then you are going to slow-down the best-in-class network deployment inside the home. And consumers experience wired broadband only through Wi-Fi, because they don’t connect things with a wire, they all experience the broadband connectivity on the back of wireless connectivity to the device,” he told Mobile World Live.

This has a knock-on effect for operators, which in many markets are a critical supplier of home connectivity equipment including Wi-Fi infrastructure.

“When you don’t get the best performance from the network, you pick up the phone, call the operator, moan about the service quality, because your videos are jittering or you are dropping connections on your Skype calls. To cut a long story short, you would think the operator’s network is not that great, and you could do one of two things: call the operator and give them a chance to fix it; or you would say screw this operator, I’m going to the next one,” Patel said.

The executive said 2019 will be big for the latest version of Wi-Fi, 802.11ax, or Wi-Fi 6 as it has recently been re-christened: “We expect the router market will see a significant uptick in the premium and high-tier categories by the first half of 2019. We expect a major retail OEM to launch in the next month, and also the enterprise guys and the carriers are already launching. I would not be surprised if major carriers in the US start launching in 2019.”

This version adopts a number of technologies already used in mobile networks and will deliver “carrier-class experiences”, he said.

And high-quality Wi-Fi is something customers are prepared to pay for: “What we are seeing from our customers, the OEMs who are building boxes, is that it’s one unique electronics category where average selling price for the last two years has gone up. And that is a huge indicator of the importance of the quality of Wi-Fi, that the consumer is prepared to pay and not compromise,” Patel said.



Steve Costello

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