“Wi-Fi is a waste of a 1 Gbps pipe” – Rahul Patel, Qualcomm
There’s been a lot of talk recently about mobile connectivity, as increasingly ubiquitous 4G means mobile video is close to reality, while the opportunities and challenges of 5G are still being discussed as 2020 deadlines approach. But what of Wi-Fi?
Today, our home hubs are generally provided by our fixed broadband providers via xDSL, cable, or if we’re lucky, fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) connections.
But while these technologies can deliver wired broadband speeds well in excess of 100 Mbps, this often translates to well below 30 Mbps once it’s converted to Wi-Fi. Couple this with the fact that most homes only have a single Wi-Fi hub in one room, and we are looking at a device bottleneck.
What’s causing the problem?
Increased traffic and a proliferation of connected devices. Cisco’s Visual Networking Index states that Wi-Fi traffic from both mobile and dedicated (IoT) devices will account for almost half (49%) of total IP traffic by 2020, up from 42% in 2015.
Factor in the three existing barriers to optimal Wi-Fi performance:
- Obstacles: Your house has walls, right?
- Interference: from other Wi-Fi hubs, but also everyday items like hairdryers and microwaves.
- Device compatibility: When different Wi-Fi speed tiers, standards and (particularly older) devices are used together, they sometimes must adhere to a “common denominator” – a lower speed standard for all devices and technologies to function together.
…and it’s apparent that home Wi-Fi as we know it – the single connection, single hub serving the entire home – is no longer fit for purpose.
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