nScreenMedia OTT multiscreen media analysis

Can home Wi-Fi deliver TV reliability?

streaming media player usage

As consumers increasingly shift their viewing to connected devices home Wi-Fi becomes a critical delivery platform. Can Wi-Fi deliver on TV reliability? Not without two fundamental changes.

In the new free white paper Consumers on the Edge: The Opportunity for Premium Home Wi-Fi Solutions, nScreenMedia looks at the transformation of the home network. It is moving from a means to connect devices to the Internet to a critical service delivery platform. It is a profound shift that the gathering pace of Internet of Things applications and the migration of media delivery to streaming is accelerating. Consider how quickly U.S. consumers are moving to TV streaming platforms.

TV streaming is experiencing explosive growth

Streaming media players like Roku and Apple TV are the rising stars of the American home. Overall, 40% of American homes have a streaming media player, an increase of 14% in just one year. Usage is doubling and tripling in some age groups. For example, those aged 50–64 years boosted usage 227% between Q1 2016 and Q1 2017. They use the devices for 3.7 hours a week. Even the lightest users, those over 64, use streaming media players for 1.7 hours per week.

With most consumers connecting their streaming media player via Wi-Fi, the wireless access point (WAP) is bearing the brunt of the huge need for bandwidth that video demands.

Consumers expect reliability and performance throughout their home. Service providers need a solid platform upon which they can deliver their products. Both groups need home Wi-Fi to perform with the reliability and consistency of any other home utility service. It is not making the grade.

Home Wi-Fi coverage spotty, problematic

The truth is that delivering consistently fast Wi-Fi access to the Internet in the home is very difficult to do. A litany of issues conspires against the WAP to cause spotty and inconsistent coverage. What’s worse, these conditions change over time, and even from minute to minute.

Even a relatively benign environment like a wood frame single story house in the suburbs is not immune to these problems. In nScreenMedia’s testing, an advanced operator-provided WAP provided less than 2% of full broadband speed 80 feet from the WAP, and 20% of bandwidth at 40 feet. Needless to say, video streaming at either location was a challenge. Mesh Wi-Fi solutions performed much better.

We are the enemy

Arris Wi-Fi configuration screen

Making changes to WAP configuration not for the faint of heart

While the home WAP certainly has its challenges, there is one other problem that is much more difficult to fix: us! Consumers purchase half of the WAPs in homes from a retail outlet. The first line of installation, management, and problem-solving for home Wi-Fi frequently falls to the homeowner. Unfortunately, most people lack the experience necessary to take on this very technical task. Simply understanding why a family member cannot stream video from their bedroom is a major undertaking. Moreover, making a change to a WAP through the web interface to fix the problem would make even the tech-savvy quake.

Moving Wi-Fi to utility status

To move home Wi-Fi toward utility status requires both the WAP performance and consumer management issues be solved. The white paper Consumers on the Edge looks at possible solutions to both problems. It also finds a premium Wi-Fi service delivered by broadband operators could be a key part of the solution.

Whether you are a media service provider, broadband operator, or interested consumer, you need to understand the state of home Wi-Fi. Download this free white paper today.

Why it matters

Home Wi-Fi is now the critical last link in the delivery of video and IoT services in the home.

Many existing home wireless access points are failing to deliver the reliability required for these services.

Consumers lack the technical skills to keep all their Wi-Fi connected devices working on the network.

Solutions exist for both the WAP and consumer problems which should move home Wi-Fi toward utility-level reliability.

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