​​10 companies innovating in smart Wi-Fi​ 

Smart Wi-Fi is a growing space to help improve the overall broadband experience for consumers. There are interesting new services being offered by technology companies and telecoms operators/ISPs alike, which others can learn from. This article highlights 10 innovators in smart Wi-Fi.

What is Smart Wi-Fi?

In this article, we will be showing 10 companies that are currently innovating in the smart Wi-Fi space. Smart Wi-Fi is the use of additional smart Wi-Fi enabled services to enhance the broadband service. Service providers are encouraged to offer Smart Wi-Fi features due to a greater potential to increase ARPU (average revenue per user) through value added services such as parental controls, security and increased connectivity. As such, they must pay special attention to how they can leverage smart Wi-Fi capabilities to provide a richer customer experience and maintain competitiveness. The companies discussed in this article range from smart Wi-Fi specialists to telecoms operators.

Companies are ordered in alphabetical order.

1. Amazon Eero

Smart Wi-Fi Specialist

Eero is a subsidiary of Amazon providing smart Wi-Fi solutions. Eero’s consumer proposition includes hardware in the form of Eero nodes with a basic and premium subscription service (Eero Plus), with the latter including various advanced network capabilities. Eero’s current suite of hardware range from the entry level Eero 6, which is built upon Wi-Fi 6, and the recently announced Eero Max 7 (Oct 2023), which has Wi-Fi 7 capabilities. Without a premium subscription, Eero devices primarily offer Wi-Fi mesh services via Eero’s TrueMesh technology, which leverages dynamic routing algorithms and real-time data to reduce drop-offs and dead spots. Users can also take advantage of the Amazon smart home ecosystem in the standard Eero offering. Since the launch of Eero 6 in November 2020, every Eero router comes equipped with a built-in Zigbee smart home hub and Thread support, enabling users to control up to 50 smart devices, such as air purifiers, printers, bulbs, all through Alexa.

The premium service, Eero Plus, also provides greater reliability in connectivity through the internet backup feature that allows users to allocate a backup wireless connection in case the wired connection goes down. In terms of their business model, Eero sells directly to consumers but also partners with internet service providers to package its smart Wi-Fi solutions such as the partnership with TalkTalk in the UK.

2. ASUS

Hardware manufacturer

ASUS is a computer hardware and electronics product manufacturer headquartered in Taiwan. ASUS has ventured into the smart Wi-Fi space by targeting a different segment of the consumer market by introducing their ASUS Republic of Gamers brand, which has purpose-built gaming routers, with its flagship model being the world’s first quad-band Wi-Fi 6E gaming router. Due to the increasing popularity of gaming, through e-sports and online gaming, the use of routers to deliver greater connectivity is becoming more important. Gamers are willing to pay a premium to drive down ping times and optimise their gameplay. As such, specialist routers can be used for applications such as gaming, offering greater bandwidth and ultra-low latency when paired with the latest releases of Wi-Fi.

ASUS also offers Wi-Fi mesh solutions through its ZenWiFi solution leveraging the ASUS AiMesh technology. ASUS is able to capture value from both consumers and enterprises, with the enterprise solution including its ExpertWiFi routers and Mesh solutions designed specifically for enterprise specifications. ASUS sells its Wi-Fi solutions directly to end-users whilst also having partnerships with CSPs such as Singtel.

3. AT&T

Telecoms operator

AT&T is a leading telecommunications company providing mobile and fixed telephone services in the US. As part of its Wi-Fi offerings, the CSP provides smart Wi-Fi extenders which are managed through a central app (Smart Home Manager app). This app allows users to check the status of their extender, check devices are connected to the extender and set the extender in the most optimal location. Also, AT&T offers a tri-band Wi-Fi 6 enabled Gateway with extenders to create a Wi-Fi mesh network reducing dead spots and increased connectivity. An additional feature of the smart Wi-Fi includes advanced Wi-Fi management including parental controls. AT&T has partnered with various companies, one of which is Plume, in order to utilise its cloud-based platform for Wi-Fi management and mesh networking solutions.

4. Deutsche Telekom

Telecoms operator

Deutsche Telekom is one of Europe’s largest telecom operators headquartered in Germany. Its smart Wi-Fi offering includes a Wi-Fi 6 enabled Speedport Smart 4 router with Wi-Fi 6 Speed Home WLAN devices to create a mesh network. To complement this, Deutsche Telekom has developed an app called MagentaZuhause to manage the network, allowing the customer to take advantage of parental control. The CSP offers the WLAN Comfort package, which includes the Speedport Smart 4, with the MagentaZuhause App Pro as an additional monthly charge. Also, in order to utilise the smart home management capabilities, users require the purchase of the SmartHome Base 2.

5. EE

Telecoms operator

EE is a British mobile network operator formed in 2010 and was acquired by BT in 2016. Similar to other telcos, EE offers a Wi-Fi Mesh Network capability through their EE Smart Hub Plus, which can be paired with a Smart Wi-Fi Plus package. In addition to this, LTE backup is offered through the additional Smart Hybrid Connect device. Some of the additional smart Wi-Fi features that EE offers include: parental controls (internet freezing, content filters), Wi-Fi Enhancer mode, which configures the network to optimise working, and advanced security through EE Cyber Security.

One notable partnership that EE has been engaged in is with Qualcomm Technologies, who will supply the networking platform for the Smart Hub home broadband in plans to roll out Wi-Fi 7 technology. This will provide customers with “faster speed, less interference, more capacity and better performance” according to EE.

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6. Google Nest

Smart Wi-Fi Specialist

Google Nest is a subsidiary of Google that produces smart home products. It offers both dual-band and tri-band Wi-Fi solutions enabled through Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6E respectively. The consumer proposition largely falls under its Wi-Fi mesh capabilities. Google also partners with telcos to offer Google Nest Wi-Fi as a mesh solution to complement fibre connectivity. Users simply plug a Nest Wi-Fi router into their modem, which then acts as the gateway hub. Through the Google Home app, customers can set up and configure the network, allowing users to add additional nest nodes to the network. Under the basic plan, there are additional smart Wi-Fi capabilities such as parental controls spanning device-specific content filters and allocating more bandwidth to specific devices.

Nest Wi-Fi Pro has been built according to Matter and Thread standards, allowing it to be integrated into Google’s smart home ecosystem. This allows it to act as a hub to control other Matter-enabled devices. Therefore, a key component of Google’s go-to-market strategy lies in Nest Wi-Fi providing core connectivity for Wi-Fi and Thread, unlocking a fully integrated Smart Home which can all be controlled through the Google Home app.

7. Orange

Telecoms operator

Orange is a multinational telecommunications company offering mobile and internet services in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. It offers Wi-Fi 6E enabled Livebox 6 and 7 routers with Wi-Fi 6 repeaters. Whilst Livebox 6 is targeted at consumers, Livebox 7 specifically provides enterprise solutions, enabling greater bandwidth capacities and mobile VPN. Some of the smart Wi-Fi features that Orange offers are: Wi-Fi mesh leveraging Orange’s Wi-Fi 6 repeaters, advanced security through Orange Security Suite and the parental control features such as internet freezes, all of which can be managed through the Orange ‘et moi’ app. Additional features within the Smart Wi-Fi product include the added radio spectrum and the tri-band steering (2.4 GHz, 5 GHz and 6 GHz) which improves the network experience for users.

A key differentiating factor of the Orange Livebox 6 is the ability to turn off specific bands depending on the demand. For example, the 6 GHz will be turned off if no Wi-Fi 6E devices are detected, providing an innovative solution to integrate sustainability into smart Wi-Fi offerings.

8. Plume

Smart Wi-Fi Specialist

Plume is a specialist company providing smart home services and Wi-Fi network optimisation. The business model is centred around the sale of its SuperPods, which are sold depending on the type of Wi-Fi being used (Wi-Fi 5/6/6E) and the number of rooms in the house. HomePass is the consumer proposition which delivers smart Wi-Fi as a subscription service. Through the SuperPods, a series of smart Wi-Fi solutions are unlocked, one of which is a tri-band mesh network. The innovative feature of the SuperPod is the ability to leverage AI to create adaptive Wi-Fi. The SuperPods will communicate the current network environment to the cloud, which in turn uses machine learning algorithms to calculate the optimal frequencies for each device on the network.

The company’s go-to-market approach focuses on partnerships with CSPs, who white label Plume’s SuperPods. As of 2023, Plume partners with 350+ CSPs including Virgin Media O2, Cox Communications, Bell Canada and Comcast. More recently, Plume has partnered with Reliance Jio to provide smart home and business services to approximately 200 million subscribers in India.

9. Singtel

Telecoms operator

Singtel is a major telecommunications company based in Singapore. It offers Wi-Fi mesh capabilities, which are activated either through Singtel Wi-Fi 6 mesh extenders or through packages with Netgear Orbi devices. Singtel also offers advanced security through Broadband Protect Subscription, as well as advanced parental controls through Qustodio Parent Control Pass subscription. Instead of being solely reliant on its in-house development capabilities to create the smart Wi-Fi offerings, Singtel leverages partnerships create innovative Wi-Fi devices. Examples of such partnerships are with TP-Link and Linksys, who manufacture Wi-Fi 7 and Wi-Fi 6 routers respectively which are sold by Singtel as part of its fibre broadband offering.

10. TalkTalk

Telecoms operator

As a ‘challenger’ brand in the UK, TalkTalk employs the strategy of reselling branded smart Wi-Fi offerings, such as the one provided by Amazon Eero. The core differentiator is that TalkTalk will provide households with the most suitable router depending on the connectivity demands, which are dependent on household size and types of devices being used. For instance, Full Fibre 150 customers (designed for smaller households), will benefit from the Eero 6 router which has dual-band Wi-Fi 6 capabilities, whilst Full Fibre 500 customers (larger households and more intensive internet usage applications such as high-speed gaming) will receive an Eero Pro 6 router which has tri-band Wi-Fi 6E capabilities.

As an additional value creation, TalkTalk packages include Eero Plus capabilities already activated allowing users to benefit from the advanced network security, ad blocking, content filtering and LTE internet backup at no extra cost.

Fezhan Hussain

Fezhan Hussain

Fezhan Hussain

Consultant

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