In private homes, several family members are often online at the same time, and they are engaging in ever heavier streaming activities. For this reason, the need for a high-quality in-home Wi-Fi solution has never been more pressing. To achieve optimal internet experience, a high performance router that can cover the entire home and leverage powerful router technologies is fundamental.
When comparing the Wi-Fi needs in private homes with needs in open-plan offices with many employees connected at the same time, one might rationally think that a private home can do with a less powerful solution.
But here’s a paradox: The type of Wi-Fi activities we typically engage in when at work, such as sending e-mails or participating in video calls, require less bandwidth than the heavy Wi-Fi activities performed in our private homes. Streaming 4K or 8K TV, watching videos and playing full HD video games put extremely high demands on our Wi-Fi solution, especially during peak hours, with all family members online at the same time.
This is one of the reasons why delivering Wi-Fi to private homes is completely different from delivering Wi-Fi to businesses.
“It all comes down to the quality of the CPE. Providing end-users with a powerful and high-quality router with several antennas is the only effective way to ensure stable performance throughout the home.”
–Jens Bundgaard, Technical Program Manager, Icotera
– In a typical business solution, you have better prerequisites for delivering the technical solution. Businesses typically employ one switch connected to several local access points. Technically, the operator can deliver a powerful solution by connecting the access points with cables placed in cable ducts, which are a standard part of the furnishing in offices, Jens Bundgaard, Technical Program Manager at Icotera, explains.
Physical cables are neither welcome nor easy to place in private homes. Here they are both expensive and burdensome.
It all depends on the router
In order to meet the demands of today’s always-connected end-users, the customer premise equipment (CPE) in the home plays a crucial role.
– It all comes down to the quality of the CPE. Providing end-users with a powerful and high-quality router with several antennas is the only effective way to ensure stable performance throughout the home, Bundgaard says.
– In brief, the more antennas, the better the performance. We advise a 5x5 antenna configuration as the minimum. Typically standard routers are equipped with 4x4 antennas but the fifth antenna is needed because it allows the router to employ advanced router technologies such as ‘beamforming’ and MU-MIMO. These technologies are an important part of the solution in private homes, he adds.
Want to know more about MU-MIMO? Read the article: “MU-MIMO: What it is and why you need it”
The need for powerful technologies
When an end-user buys a 1G connection, he or she expects to get the best out of it – in every corner of the home. Probably the most important technology to ensure this is beamforming.
When an end-user is in the periphery of the router coverage, the router starts using multiple antennas to transmit the Wi-Fi signal. The stronger Wi-Fi signal gives better quality and performance, leading to higher throughput and less latency - even in the most distant corners of the home.
According to Bundgaard, beamforming is particularly relevant to ensure stable in-home Wi-Fi performance:
– In businesses with many access points, the user will automatically roam to a closer access point when moving around. In a private home you instead take advantage of beamforming to focus the wireless signal at a specific receiving device.
Bundgaard also highlights MU-MIMO (multi-user, multiple input, multiple output) technology as a key to ensuring high in-home performance. This too requires a minimum of 5x5 antennas:
– In short, if a wireless router has a sufficient number of antennas, MU-MIMO allows multiple users to access without creating congestion. In peak hours, with many users connecting at the same time, their devices end up competing against each other, thus impairing the individual user experience. This is avoided with MU-MIMO.
Simplicity above all
Probably one of the most common reasons for end-user dissatisfaction is when ISPs fail to deliver the expected throughout the entire home. In these cases, at first glance Wi-Fi extenders might be the solution. But this is not the case, if you ask Bundgaard:
– The more devices connected, the greater the pressure on the Wi-Fi network. At the same time, adding more access-points will increase complexity, add more possible sources of errors, and make it harder for ISPs to troubleshoot.
That is why he advises ISPs to secure simplicity when delivering Wi-Fi to private homes:
– Having one high-end router that is powerful enough to cover the entire home is ideal. This is different from corporate solutions, where providers have other possibilities for cabling access points and businesses usually employ technical staff on-site. For ISPs delivering Wi-Fi to private homes, troubleshooting is resource-intensive, and minimizing it improves both customer satisfaction and profitability, Bundgaard ends.
Want to know more about how you can deliver high-quality Wi-Fi solutions to private homes with Icotera’s routers?
Feel free to contact our Technical Program Manager, Jens Bundgaard at email@example.com
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