Plume receives conditional approval to enable higher power transmission for WiFi 6E within the home
Two years ago, the U.S. Federal Communication Commission (FCC) made the decision to open the 6 GHz band to unlicensed operators, making much-needed spectrum available to WiFi. By extending the transformative features of WiFi 6 to the 6 GHz spectrum, the FCC ushered in a new era of innovation. On November 2, the Commission took another step toward enabling new technology improvements by conditionally approving the implementation of automated frequency control (AFC) systems for the first cohort of industry players, including Plume. The FCC’s conditional approval allows Plume, along with 12 other WiFi industry leaders, such as Broadcom, Google, Qualcomm, and Sony, to proceed with the testing of their AFC systems. Once Plume’s system is fully approved, Plume would be among the first to integrate an AFC system into its products and services, providing its access points (APs) with the highest transmit power level possible.
What is AFC and why does it matter?
As the number of devices in the home has increased, WiFi networks have become more congested. The problem keeps growing with the explosion of IoT (Internet of Things) devices and high-data-rate internet services. To mitigate WiFi congestion in the home, the communications industry has long been advocating for more WiFi spectrum. Opening up the 6 GHz band to WiFi (enabling WiFi 6E devices) more than doubles the amount of spectrum available, providing benefits such as reduced interference and higher data rates. For consumers, this change has the potential to deliver more reliable and robust WiFi connections in the home. For Communications Services Providers (CSPs), WiFi 6E may offer the opportunity to improve subscribers’ Quality of Experience (QoE) and deliver the more sophisticated services that make smart homes smart. Currently, however, WiFi 6E operation is limited to low-transmission power to avoid interference with point-to-point microwave links, which are currently the primary users of the 6 GHz band. The low-power mode produces a weak signal that has a short transmission distance and typically uses a lower data rate at a given range. In essence, the low power reduces the efficacy of the additional bandwidth for residential services. AFC helps WiFi access points (APs) utilize the highest transmit power level possible while ensuring that they do not interfere with point-to-point microwave links. The AFC system is often able to find frequency channels that will allow the AP to operate at the maximum allowable transmit power, allowing an additional 9dB or more transmit power than under the low-power rules. This advantage in transmit power extends to the client devices connected to the AP—the maximum transmit power they can use is tied to the power level that the AP can use. Since point-to-point microwave link operators must file paperwork with the FCC, the Commission maintains a database of all these locations. The AFC system determines the location of an AP and then queries the FCC database for nearby microwave links using cloud-based software. The AFC system also factors in terrain data that determines how mountains or tall buildings affect the signal pathway between the microwave link and the WiFi device. Using all this information, the system then calculates the power level at which the AP can transmit without interfering with those links. Within the Plume Saas Experience Platform, the information analyzed by the AFC server would flow into the centralized optimization system so the optimizer can choose the best frequency channel the AP should operate on. The Plume optimizer also analyzes data such as interference from neighbors, the types and needs of devices in the home, and the WiFi signal strengths that can be maintained between devices. Based on that analysis, Plume’s Platform transmits instructions back to the AP for the optimum connection in the home. With the AFC system integrated into the Platform, the WiFi 6E devices connected to each AP would utilize the frequency channels that provide the highest performance, factoring the interference levels and the higher transmit powers allowed by AFC, improving range and data rates.
What AFC means for Plume customers:
Each company has its own vision for how it’ll use AFC. Whatever the vision, those that want to deploy AFC must apply for FCC approval to develop their own systems. As one of the 13 companies or organizations to receive the FCC’s conditional approval of their AFC proposal, Plume is part of a leading cohort that can proceed to the testing step. Once fully approved, Plume would be among the first industry players to integrate an AFC system into its products and services. Plume’s cloud-based control system currently serves more than 43 million homes globally. This system already supports WiFi 6E, allowing low-power transmission in the 6 GHz band. Bringing new AFC benefits to our customer base would be an extension of our existing capabilities. We continue to seek new opportunities that give our CSP customers a competitive edge, and creating an AFC system is an important part of our commitment to delivering cutting-edge products. The FCC’s conditional approval allows Plume to move to the testing phase of our AFC system in the US. Plume’s ultimate vision is to enable AFC service to all the homes where we manage WiFi. Our goal is to allow our CSP customers to take greater advantage of the 6 GHz band and increased WiFi capacity to deliver even better experiences to their subscribers.
Although WiFi can currently operate in the 6 GHz band without AFC—and a cloud-based optimization system such as Plume’s can maximize the performance that can be achieved by a low-power system—there are still performance limitations. That’s why the FCC’s launch of the AFC program is so exciting. AFC is what will help WiFi 6E achieve its full promise. And now that Plume is conditionally approved, we are well on the way to bringing our customers even better WiFi services.
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Which devices dominate the OpenSync universe?
Four years ago, we made OpenSync available as an open-source, silicon-to-service framework. It is now the go-to platform for the broadband industry, with over 350 CSPs relying on it globally to provide cloud-driven services for 43 million locations, with a staggering 890 petabytes of data managed every day.
Earlier this month we celebrated surpassing a key milestone as more than 2 billion connected devices have been managed on OpenSync-powered networks! So, we dipped into data from the ever-expanding OpenSync universe to determine the brands and devices that have proven to be the most popular over time.
At the brand level, Apple dominates with a 54% share while smartphones are the most popular devices with 40.9% of the deployed base. The iPhone family is the smart home users’ go-to product with 15.1%. When drilling down to specific models, Apple’s MacBook Pro (5.7%) beats Microsoft’s Xbox One (4.7%) to the top spot.
Until now, competitive solutions to solving these issues have been difficult or cost prohibitive to implement. Physical site surveys, retrofitting existing cable wiring embedded in building infrastructure, and limited software services are all hurdles to rapidly lighting up a building with delightful connectivity experiences for tenants and property managers alike.
As the world’s first cloud- and AI-powered connectivity and management solution designed to meet the unique needs of MDUs, Uprise™ enables property managers and Communications Service Providers (CSPs) to provide highly personalized customer experiences while reducing costs through unmatched hardware choice and lower CAPEX.
How Uprise works:
For tenants, Uprise enables users to personalize their internet experiences through the HomePass® and WorkPass® apps; trusted applications already delivering adaptive wireless connectivity and AI-driven cyber-security to over 43 million locations. Uprise constantly performs sophisticated load and interference management, as well as clustered optimizations for reliable and consistent connectivity throughout the MDU. This is true even in mixed-use buildings where small businesses are operating in the same area as residential tenants.
What will this mean to a tenant? Optimization algorithms intelligently group units together by proximity, allocating bandwidth where needed. So, if one tenant is facing an afternoon of Zoom calls while another is streaming video games at the same time, Uprise will intelligently distribute bandwidth to support steady, strong, and secure connectivity for all parties involved. Similarly, when the coffee shop in the same building gets busy in the morning, tenants’ WiFi won’t suffer.
Uprise includes three main services:
Perks for CSPs:
CSPs get all the benefits of HayStack®, a back-end software suite that helps manage the subscriber experience. Plume also offers Harvest®, a data-driven network insights and campaign automation software tool to drive growth. Uprise also includes a variety of application programming interfaces (APIs), which can easily and seamlessly connect to back-end systems.
Managers or administrators can choose between a bulk-pay scenario (which covers the whole building), or individual pay options, where tenants choose a CSP that offers Uprise.
Benefits for building managers:
Building owners and property managers now have a new way to differentiate their MDU offering from competitors. Property managers will find Uprise makes it easier than ever to get new residential and small-business tenants connected after move-in (and disconnected at move-out). Hardware can be recycled from tenant to tenant and setup is simple. Options include LTE back-up for uninterrupted service, PoE+ for secure and convenient mounting, and WiFi 6 capabilities for greater speeds and network capacity. An intuitive, award-winning interface means that both managers and tenants can monitor and manage network settings.
Uprise also provides property-management employees (and their IoT devices) with a devoted, secure network that offers them an additional layer of protection and peace of mind. Finally, Uprise makes it possible for building managers to provide connectivity in common areas like lobbies, gyms, or pool decks.
“Uprise marks the beginning of a new and exciting phase in the development of Plume’s products. We have leveraged and further advanced our technology to address problems, such as inconsistent internet connection, fragmentation of systems, and high costs, that have long affected the MDU market. Our new and easy-to-deploy solution will truly empower property managers and CSPs to provide a leading and personalized customer experience, delivered with the highest degree of flexibility and hardware independence.” — David Huynh, Chief Product Officer, Plume
Watch an exclusive video on the benefits of Uprise with Plume’s Chief Product Officer, David Huynh.
New technologies, the digitization of services, changing consumer demands, and increased competition are disrupting the landscape for Communications Services Providers (CSPs). To remain competitive and differentiate in this evolving market, CSPs can no longer rely on existing business models or legacy hardware and software solutions. 20-50% of revenues for some CSPs now come from nontraditional services.
With the commoditization of basic connectivity services, CSPs face both challenges and opportunities. By embracing digital transformation, they can harness the power of the cloud and create new sources of revenue.
Here’s why CSPs should look to the cloud as the enabler for growth and transformation.
Respond to changing consumer behaviors. Consumers are increasingly seeking over-the-top (OTT) content that’s easily accessible via their TV screens. The abundance of streaming content has led to a massive number of subscribers “cutting the cord” altogether.
31.2 million estimated US households cut the cord in 2020 35.4% of US households are projected to be cord-cutters by 2024. At the same time, consumers are embracing smart home devices and services, as well as shifting more interactions online. 1.4 billion smart home devices are estimated to be shipped per year by 2025. For CSPs, these converging trends create an opportunity to figure out how to deploy new services that can meet consumer demands—and the cloud unlocks those opportunities. Increase competitiveness in an evolving market. The market is seeing dramatic changes. According to Gartner, “Cloud-native CSPs are emerging as aggressive challengers, and leading incumbent CSPs are expanding on efforts to virtualize their networks and adopt cloud-native capabilities.” But CSPs are no longer competing only with industry peers. Outside players—both OTT and technology companies—have been entering the market, offering services aimed at taking over the home.
Everyone from Apple to Facebook is rolling out new content and services, vying for consumer attention. These disruptors are:
Adopting innovative business models. Creating compelling offerings that divert customers away from traditional CSPs. Building out their own infrastructure, reducing their reliance on CSPs.
All these changes mean further erosion of revenue—and CSPs will need to turn to technology like cloud computing to catch up.
Develop and implement new services faster.
Percentage of businesses in 2020 accelerated digital transformation programs that reinvented how they deliver digital experiences to customers and employees. 38%. In today’s always-on world, customers expect their service providers to offer upgrades and new services faster than ever. Traditionally, however, rolling out new services has been a challenge for CSPs due to the costs and labor involved.
As consumers embrace more digital and personalized experiences, a cloud-based service architecture enables CSPs to:
Decouple the service delivery from hardware and move it to the cloud. Deploy new and future services quickly and efficiently through software updates.
Improve ability to deliver services at mass scale.
Traditional IT architecture creates barriers to reaching consumers at mass scale. Outside players such as technology giants have broken these barriers by embracing web-scale architectures. The cloud levels the playing field, enabling CSPs to do the same.
Benefits of a cloud-based service delivery platform include:
Delivery of new services at scale without expanding IT resources and hardware. Opportunities to expand not only services but also new market segments, such as small business subscribers.
The B2B market is especially promising as even the smallest businesses adopt technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, and data analytics, creating a bigger demand for the digital infrastructure and services that CSPs can offer.
98% of businesses were using IoT by the end of 2021
Eliminate vendor dependency and lock-in.
The smart home has grown more sophisticated, requiring new technology such as mesh devices to maintain quality WiFi connectivity. But consumers have limited options for upgrades and new services because the hardware provided by specific vendors has limits.
A cloud-based services platform Removes those limitations by eliminating the vendor lock-in. Allows CSPs to deliver uniform customer experiences regardless of the hardware and firmware in the home. Many CSPs are already taking advantage of the power of the cloud to pursue new business opportunities, improve service to their customers, and create additional revenue streams. The new differentiators are technologies such as data analytics and AI. But to get there, the cloud is an essential step. CSPs that don’t take this step soon will be left behind.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched more than 1,000 satellites into orbit to test its internet service across the globe. And Amazon announced its plans to launch more than 3,200 satellites for its own service, Kuiper Systems.
But even with these corporations encroaching on their space, CSPs shouldn’t be ready to resign their market share just yet. With the right tools and strategies, they can better position themselves for longevity and secure a future-proofed spot as the comprehensive, go-to provider for their target customers. Additionally, President Biden recently signed a new executive order to increase regulation for big tech companies, which could open up competition in the space. So, here’s what CSPs need to know about the battle with big tech—and how to survive it.
CSPs still have the upper hand
Despite big tech’s big plans, CSPs still have a major advantage: They got here first. When people made that initial decision to bring connected devices and experiences into their homes, who did they turn to for help? CSPs. As a result, they’ve been using internet routers, cable boxes, and phone systems longer than they’ve been streaming Amazon shows and driving Teslas.
That means CSPs have an important opportunity to build on those relationships and offer even more value to their customers. And that’s why we think CSPs are actually in a great position—not only to keep their market share but also to gain more share in the digital space, which is currently going to big tech through their video and streaming platforms. They just need to know how to do it.
What CSPs can do to reclaim—and expand—their market
CSPs can use these key strategies to get ahead of big tech and maintain their positions as leaders in the broadband space.
Build a new bundle with additional services
CSPs already provide a broadband connection, but that’s no longer enough when they’re competing with big tech. They now need to offer additional services, such as:
As more people are working and learning from home, they need WiFi that works consistently— in every room and on any device. Beyond that, however, CSPs can offer WiFi that adapts to customer usage patterns and predicts where and when they’ll need coverage, so they’re never left buffering in a meeting or a class.
Essentially, CSPs need to build a new bundle—one that goes beyond just delivering internet, phone, and cable packages. With these new digital services, CSPs will be better positioned to compete with big tech and differentiate their offerings—and, of course, increase revenue. Also, remember that CSPs are uniquely positioned to deliver a new services bundle because they’re already in the home. Sure, Amazon is in the home, too, but only as a virtual assistant or a streaming platform. The CSP is still the customer’s gateway to a broadband connection and, thus, a more accessible portal to these new services.
Use a cloud-based system
While offering new smart services might sound overwhelming, CSPs don’t have to launch them all at once. Instead, they can make incremental changes by moving to a cloud-based system.
With this setup, CSPs can easily update customers’ firmware at scale, quickly launch new services, and gather real-time data about each user’s preferences and behaviors. From there, they can make better-informed decisions about what customers need and how to provide it.
Think about it. If you’re eager to launch a cyber-security service, for example, you don’t have to create an entirely new line of business or even deliver new hardware to your interested customers. You can use your cloud-based platform to gradually launch updates across your networks—making small changes to the systems you’ve already worked hard to put in place. So, where do you start? That’s where Plume comes in. Just like big tech companies, we grew up in the cloud. And we have the resources CSPs need to deliver more value to their customers at speed and scale. With the tools we have now—and the ones yet to come—we’re confident that CSPs will be well prepared to succeed in the battle with big tech. They just have to start now. You know, before any new satellites are launched.
“A strong HR organization is a core pillar and a critical function particularly for hyper-growth companies like Plume,” said Iman Abbasi. “Plume’s people-first culture, leadership, and commitment to thinking out-of-the box are what drew me here. I will focus on attracting, developing and retaining a diverse and global talent base, establishing and continuously tuning modern HR practices responsive to the new norms, and growing a solid people team as a key business partner to all of our leaders.”
“I was captivated by Plume’s vision and culture of innovation which, coupled with the opportunity to stand-up the company’s first in-house legal team, sold me on Plume,” said Shari Piré. “As Plume matures, it’s important that we build robust policies, practices, and procedures consistent with our unconditional commitment to compliance, privacy, and data security, as well as our ambitious environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals, including sustainability, responsible resource utilization, and the #PlumeStrong initiative.”
“Plume’s proven track record of innovation, ‘think big culture’, and huge market opportunity drew me in,” said Kiran Edara. “With unique access to a massive set of proprietary data, core competence in drawing valuable insights, novel technology, and world-class engineering talent, Plume is ideally positioned to solve complex technical problems to deliver unparalleled levels of service personalization. I’m excited to lead and scale a multi-disciplinary, global engineering team.”
“We are thrilled to welcome Iman, Shari, and Kiran to Plume,” said Fahri Diner, Founder and CEO of Plume. “All three are incredibly talented individuals, exceptional leaders, and subject matter experts who will propel us to new heights.”
About Iman Abbasi
Abbasi most recently was Chief Human Resources Officer at Symbotic where she spearheaded the growth and scalability of the business through Talent Acquisition, Talent Development, Rewards, Benefits, Policies, Culture, and Employee Engagement. Prior to that, she was at LexisNexis Risk Solutions (NYSE: RELX), where she worked as VP of HR and before that, she was VP of HR at Thomson Reuters (NYSE: TRI).
About Shari Piré
Piré has been a trusted legal advisor for 20+ years, including at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP in New York City and Paris, along with Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, where she represented public and private companies and their owners on “bet-the-company” M&A transactions. Before Plume, Piré was Chief Legal Officer & Global Head of Sustainability at Cognate BioServices, a cell and gene therapy CDMO. Piré serves on the board of directors of Precision BioSciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: DTIL).
About Kiran Edara
Edara has more than 25 years of software development experience, including ten years at Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) and ten years at Motorola Mobility LLC, a Lenovo Company (OTC: LNVGY). He also holds over 60 granted patents. Most recently, Edara served as Director of Software Development/GM Connectivity Services, EC2 Edge at Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS). Prior to that, he held the roles of Senior Software Development Engineer, Software Development Manager, and Senior Software Development Manager at Amazon Lab126.
Plume® is the creator of the world’s first SaaS experience platform for Communications Service Providers (CSPs) and their subscribers, deployed in more than 41 million active locations globally. As the only open and hardware-independent, cloud-controlled solution, Plume enables the rapid delivery of new services for smart homes, small businesses, and beyond at massive scale. On the front end, Plume delivers self-optimizing adaptive WiFi, cyber-security, access and parental controls, and more. CSPs get robust data- and AI-driven back-end applications for unprecedented visibility, insights, support, operations, and marketing. Plume leverages OpenSync™, an open-source framework that comes pre-integrated and supported on the leading silicon, CPE, and platform SDKs.
Plume’s investors include Insight Partners, SoftBank, Liberty Global Ventures, Qualcomm and Samsung.
Plume and OpenSync are either trademarks or registered trademarks of Plume Design, Inc. Other company and product names are used for informational purposes only and may be trademarks of their respective owners.
“As a founder and entrepreneur, I not only look for great technology that customers love, and a talented team, but also the opportunity to create an entirely new category,” said Magdalena Yesil. “Plume has created a new category that is redefining consumer experiences in smart spaces, and I’m thrilled to be a part of this ambitious group of people.”
“Looking through the lens of cloud services and finance, I was very impressed with the high growth SaaS business Plume has built to date,” said Roxanne Oulman. “I am thrilled about the opportunity to collaborate closely with such a talented team, and look forward to rolling up my sleeves to help them hyper-scale across a number of vectors.”
“I’ve long shared Fahri’s vision, and appreciated Plume’s ambitions in reconstructing residential and small business service bundles,” said Tony Werner. “Today, over 95% of home devices, ranging from personal computers, e-readers and tablets to the exploding number of IoT hardware, connect to broadband over WiFi. The one thing they all have in common is the critical need for high performance, reliable and consistent connectivity over an unlicensed, wireless spectrum. Plume is revolutionizing connectivity and the smart home experience with an open platform, hardware agnostic approach. I am excited to continue partnering with Fahri, and help the Plume team achieve their goals in transforming smart spaces globally.”
These appointments come on the heels of Plume’s explosive growth over the last three years. Plume powers more than 40 million active residential and small business locations with its cloud hosted services through more than 275 Communication Service Providers (CSP) across the Americas, Europe and Japan. To help fuel the accelerating expansion of the global software defined network controlled by its cloud control plane currently managing more than 1.6 billion unique client devices, Plume raised $540 million over two rounds of funding in 2021 from Insight Partners and SoftBank Vision Fund 2.
“I couldn’t be more excited and honored to welcome Magdalena, Roxanne and Tony to Plume,” said Fahri Diner, Founder and CEO of Plume. “They each bring unique skill sets, professional networks, and valuable perspectives to help propel us to new heights.”
About Magdalena Yesil Yesil is the executive chair of Informed.IQ, a robotic process automation company. She also serves on the boards of SoFi (NASDAQ:SOFI), Smartsheet (NYSE:SMAR) and Zuora (NYSE:ZUO). She is the founder of Broadway Angels, an all-female group of angel investors, and the first investor and board member of Salesforce, where she served on the Board from formation to post IPO. Earlier in her career, Yesil founded three companies dedicated to commercializing Internet access, e-commerce infrastructure, and electronic payments, which led to an acquisition and two IPOs. She began her investing career at US Venture Partners and is the author of the bestselling book Power UP! How Smart Women Win in the New Economy. She is also one of the four women featured in NY Times best-selling author Julian Guthrie’s book Alpha Girls.
About Roxanne Oulman Oulman most recently served as Executive Vice President and CFO at Medallia, an Experience Management SaaS company. Oulman led Medallia’s IPO in 2019 which was publicly traded (NYSE: MDLA) until the purchase by Thoma Bravo for $6.4B in October of 2021. Prior to Medallia, Oulman was CFO and Executive Vice President at CallidusCloud (NASDAQ: CALD), a publicly traded $2.4B market cap SaaS company. Previously, Roxanne led as the interim Chief Financial Officer at Thoratec Corporation (NASDAQ: THOR), a publicly traded medical device company, where she held multiple financial leadership roles from 2004 to 2013. Oulman is also the Audit Committee Chair of CalAmp (NASDAQ: CAMP) a Telematics company and has served on the board since July 2018.
About Tony Werner Werner served as CTO and then President, Technology, Product, Xperience at Comcast Cable. Prior to Comcast, Tony served as Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for Liberty Global, Inc., in Englewood, CO, where he led the company’s global strategy for video, voice and data services. He has more than 40 years of engineering and technical management experience, having also held senior management positions with Qwest Communications, Aurora Networks, Tele-Communications, Inc. (TCI)/AT&T Broadband, Rogers Communications, Inc., and RCA Cablevision Systems.
About Plume® Plume® is the creator of the world’s first SaaS experience platform for Communications Service Providers (CSPs) and their subscribers, deployed in more than 40 million active locations globally. As the only open and hardware-independent, cloud-controlled solution, Plume enables the rapid delivery of new services for smart homes, small businesses, and beyond at massive scale. On the front end, Plume delivers self-optimizing adaptive WiFi, cyber-security, access and parental controls, and more. CSPs get robust data- and AI-driven back-end applications for unprecedented visibility, insights, support, operations, and marketing. Plume leverages OpenSync™, an open-source framework that comes pre-integrated and supported on the leading silicon, CPE, and platform SDKs.
Plume’s investors include Insight Partners, SoftBank, Liberty Global Ventures, Qualcomm and Samsung.
Plume and OpenSync are either trademarks or registered trademarks of Plume Design, Inc. Other company and product names are used for informational purposes only and may be trademarks of their respective owners.
Learn how this leading telecommunications operator used Plume’s intelligent cloud-based platform to generate new revenue and achieve an impressive customer penetration rate of 25% with new smart home offerings.
Fast WiFi speed alone is not enough anymore. Today’s smart home consumer also expects service consistency, reliability, strong WiFi distribution, and efficient customer service. The Channels Islands’ largest telecoms operator JT knew it needed to find a way for customers to benefit fully from its ultrafast broadband network, and for this, it turned to Plume.
Read this case study by Omdia for more details on how JT worked with Plume to roll out the new offering, JT Total WiFi, which resulted in:
Customer penetration rate of 25% with 11% of all JT customers opting for the new product.
82% of new product customers who were satisfied or very satisfied with their service compared with 75% of standard customers.
Increased customer satisfaction with JT Total WiFi scoring 9 out of 10 for service (from 6.3 out of 10 for standard WiFi customers).
Post-COVID life—the way consumers live, learn, work, and play—is unlikely to ever return to the old “normal.” For example, international consulting firm Telecom Advisory Services estimates that 54% of the workforce will be hybrid, working from home at least part of the time. The pandemic also accelerated digital transformation for many businesses, and consumers will not be giving up on the newfound digital experiences that resulted from that transformation.
These tech trends are taking hold just as WiFi 6 builds momentum in the market. Capable of supporting more advanced, bandwidth-intensive use cases such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), WiFi 6 is expected to bring drastic changes, both for consumers and enterprises. While this is exciting, it also presents a challenge for CSPs because they need to ensure their service delivery can support these use cases without adversely affecting the quality of experience for subscribers.
The pandemic already began altering the WiFi connectivity landscape. But the combination of three factors—the changing consumer behaviors, WiFi 6 adoption, and the expectation that regulators will allocate more WiFi spectrum—has the potential to elevate the role of WiFi to levels never seen before. And CSPs need to be ready.
Capable of supporting more advanced, bandwidth-intensive use cases such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), WiFi 6 is expected to bring drastic changes, both for consumers and enterprises.
The combination of these three factors has the potential to elevate the role of WiFi to levels never seen before
WiFi-powered innovation and future tech trends
Some of the potential of the new WiFi technology hinges on access to the 1200 MHz and 6 GHz band (WiFi 6E). Many countries have already made great strides in that direction. The US, for example, approved the 6 GHz spectrum to unlicensed WiFi in April 2020 (in what some have called a historic and monumental decision)—and by December 2020, FCC had already authorized the first WiFi 6E device.
The US approved the 6 GHz spectrum to unlicensed WiFi
FCC authorized the first WiFi 6E device
While these developments are still in the early stages, the 6 GHz spectrum and future WiFi generations will deliver another wave of AR/VR innovation, IoT expansion, increase in video streaming, and more.
One trend that CSPs should be preparing for right now is the self-optimizing, adaptive home of the future. Simply having smart home conveniences is no longer satisfying for consumers. In the near future, consumers of all ages will be expecting a truly smart home—one that learns from their living patterns and behaviors and adapts to their lifestyles.
As another example, consider the metaverse, one of the hottest ideas that’s making its way from enthusiastic consumer discussions into the business space. A virtual world that mixes digital technologies like VR, videoconferencing, gaming, live-streaming, cryptocurrency, and others, the metaverse is only a fantasy at the moment. What stops it from moving forward is, in large part, the lack of superfast, low-latency connectivity.
If the metaverse does take a leap forward as WiFi speeds and reliability improve, it has the potential to bring millions of people together into a digital world that they can access from anywhere, and not just to play. Shopping, team meetings, concerts—the potential for experiences is unlimited, which explains why technology giants like Facebook and Microsoft want to move the concept of the metaverse forward. The commercial potential is huge.
While this idea is years—and leaps and bounds—away, it’s an illustration of what’s to come. Our future will become more and more connected, and WiFi’s social and economic benefits will grow exponentially.
Benefiting from the digital economy boom
CSPs can take advantage of all these exciting developments by delivering new services to subscribers, such as smart home and IoT services. As all the new WiFi-powered innovation makes it into customers’ homes, managed WiFi will also see high demand. Already, people want to take better control of their home WiFi experience—and this will increasingly become an expectation as their connectivity needs evolve.
But the old business models weren’t designed for these kinds of opportunities. With competition in the space fiercer than ever, only CSPs that are agile and innovative will succeed. Traditional solutions that are based on hardware simply can’t keep up with the fast-paced changes in the digital economy. And they don’t scale to the level that these changes require.
For an industry that’s so critical to digital resilience and to the economy, CSPs have been surprisingly slow to transform. For example, the cloud, among other technologies, has long been driving transformation across numerous sectors, yet CSPs are only just now realizing its transformative potential.
Unlike service delivery that’s based on hardware and software, the cloud enables fast time to market and the ability to roll out services quickly to millions of customers. And that’s just for starters.
With cloud-based service delivery platforms, CSPs can continuously add new services with simple software coding, drastically cutting costs.
Whether the connected future brings us exciting new adventures like the metaverse or simply better digital experiences with the technologies we already have, CSPs can’t afford to sit on the sidelines.
Other WiFi industry players are moving fast to benefit from the digital boom—it’s time for CSPs to do the same. They need to implement forward-thinking ideas and lead some of the innovation instead of trying to catch up with it.
Plume’s cloud-based service-delivery platform can help CSPs to benefit from the changing connectivity landscape and next-generation WiFi trends.
Learn how to take advantage of the agility and scalability of the cloud, combined with Plume’s interoperable, hardware- and vendor-agnostic platform.
Smart home devices aren’t just getting more popular. They’re also creating new customer expectations and transforming the way people work, relax, and learn in their homes.
“Thanks, in part, to COVID-19, things have changed dramatically,” Plume CCO Tyson Marian said in a recent webinar. “[Customer] expectations have increased because their entire livelihood really rests on the quality of experience in the home. And we don’t see that changing anytime soon.” Communications service providers (CSPs) must keep up with these changes or risk getting left behind. And that means using data to understand exactly what customers want from their smart home experiences and how you can deliver it.
“The smart home today is less about the devices in your home and more about the data that those devices produce to create cross-device experiences. That’s why the smart home is really starting to take off now and why we believe it will continue to grow.”
Tyson Marian, Plume CCO
Uninterrupted connection throughout the home
There are more connected devices in the home than ever—and the pandemic just sped up adoption. As more people had to quarantine and begin working and schooling from their residences, what did they invest in? Smart home devices.
In a recent study, Plume found that the number of devices per U.S. household increased 38% from October 2019 to May 2021—the most common additions being voice assistants, security cameras, and smart light bulbs.
38% The number of devices per U.S. household increased 38% from October 2019 to May 2021
With all of their smart devices, customers expect seamless, uninterrupted connection so they never have to miss a meeting, class, or a favorite TV show. And if they’re now paying for more hardware and software than they used to, they want to know that they’re getting their money’s worth.
“Our digital life is becoming the greatest cost in our life outside of possibly a mortgage. What the customer expects is that those [devices and platforms] work and that they always work.”
Tyson Marian, Plume CCO
Smart capabilities across devices
In a world of smart technology, a watch is no longer just a watch and a bike is no longer just a bike. Instead, they’re internet-connected devices that use data to learn about your needs and deliver automated, personalized experiences. And consumers have increasingly come to expect those features.
“If I get a new thermostat, it’s got to give me more than just the ability to adjust the controls. With sensorless motion detection, for instance, Plume can actually turn devices like a smart thermostat into a sensor. This is the sort of thing that turns an otherwise simple thermostat into something more useful, and turns a home into a smart home.”
Tyson Marian, Plume CCO
During the pandemic, investments in smart cooking devices grew 60%, wearables and smartwatches 51%, and smart TVs and streaming devices 34%.
Personalized, on-call support when they need it
With all of these connected devices, CSPs should be able to gather real-time data about their customers’ experiences and offer personalized, proactive support as needed.
“When they actually call the service provider with an issue, the customer wants you to know who they are. They also want you to be able to help solve their problem efficiently.”
Tyson Marian, Plume CCO
Marian recalled a support call he once heard where a customer was passed from representative to representative until someone was able to finally address the problem. And for each new person, the customer had to repeat their name, account number, and issue. A CSP with a cloud-based, data-driven system would have been able to get a bird’s-eye view of the devices in the customer’s home, easily connect those that weren’t on the network, and offer a customized solution for increased coverage—all in just a few minutes. “That’s the kind of experience that the customer wants: bespoke,” Marian said. “What’s going on in my house and can you offer me a solution?” As smart home devices become more ubiquitous and customers less tolerant of unpersonalized experiences, CSPs have to step up their game and find a way to become a one-stop shop for customers’ evolving needs and preferences.
“A lot has changed; a lot is going to continue to change. And our belief is that every change will present more data, which means more opportunities to create new digital, smart home experiences.”
Tyson Marian Plume CCO