Service Providers Expand Reach of Managed Devices in Broadband Homes

The IHS report noted WiFi has become an increasingly important strategic element for Internet service providers (ISPs).

wifi and ihs

The percentage of global households with WiFi home gateways or routers supplied by their service providers will rise from 66 percent in 2014 to nearly 90 percent in 2019, according to a report from IT research firm IHS.

Driving the need for more connectivity is the number of connected devices per household, which continues to rise. In North America alone, there will be nearly 13 connected devices per broadband household in 2019, compared to just 10 devices in 2014.

The report noted WiFi has become an increasingly important strategic element for Internet service providers (ISPs), as many of their customers rely on their home wireless network for everything from email and social networking to streaming high-quality over-the-top (OTT) video.

The proliferation of connected devices runs parallel to heavy ISP infrastructure investments designed to provide higher bandwidth speed and the budget to market it to subscribers and prospects.

"High quality video, especially HD, is a driver for more advanced WiFi solutions on broadband customer-premises equipment (CPE)," John Kendall, senior analyst of consumer electronics and connected home for IHS, told eWEEK. "This issue will become increasingly important as the number of connected devices on the home network continues to rise. As I say in the report, consumers increasingly judge the worth of their Internet connection by the performance of the WiFi in the home."

When asked what companies are making the best routers today, Kendall said IHS doesn’t necessarily endorse one company over another, but nearly every supplier is deploying advanced solutions for managed devices.

Broadband CPE with 802.11ac WiFi, including gateways, routers, and multimedia home gateways with integrated modems, will be installed in more than 70 percent of global broadband households by 2019.

While 2014 was the first year 802.11ac was widely adopted, there will be more than 88 million 802.11ac unit shipments this year—nearly doubling again in 2016.

Revenue from 802.11ac equipment is expected to grow from $1.5 billion in 2014 to greater than $10 billion in 2017, the report projected.

Kendall also noted operators are turning to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Standards Association’s (IEEE-SA’s) 802.11ac standard. This standard allows for WiFi operation on the 5 gigahertz (GHz) band, which does not face interference from other household appliances.

Additionally, the specification will incorporate multi-user, multi-input and multi-output technology in the second half of 2015, allowing for concurrent WiFi streams to multiple devices, which again doubles the theoretical WiFi throughput.

"We will see more 802.11ac technology, with the focus being on advanced solutions such as 3x3 or 4x4 dual band MU-MIMO, in order to serve more devices concurrently," Kendall said. "802.11ac will have a role to play for several years."