Enabling connected smart homes

12th July 2018
Alex Lynn

A distributed WiFi indoor infrastructure could change our vision of how we consider the smart home and its connections to the Internet of Things (IoT). In this article, Qorvo has explained distributed WiFi, some of its design challenges and how a Pod in Every Room architecture can bring the connected smart home to life.

Everyone has experienced connectivity issues when multiple family members try to stream bandwidth intensive videos or games on their devices at the same time. A truly connected smart home, with the capacity for various users and connected devices streaming simultaneously, is getting closer to reality.

With the WiFi IEEE 802.11ax standard expected to be released in 2019, it’s exciting to envision how our homes will have the capability and capacity for so much more, all connected wirelessly.

Although earlier versions of the WiFi standard provided increased data rates, other challenges remained, including reliable range and avoiding interference. The WiFi industry used multiple technologies, such as repeaters or power line extenders, to try to overcome these issues, but the capacity continued to be constrained.

Using a repeater inherently adds interference and can result in a poor user experience, even if it does minimally extend the range. Instead, distributing WiFi or placing a Pod in Every Room is a better approach to yield whole home coverage. In short, you equip every room in a house with a pod that serves as a wireless access point. The pod connects to the router, which then connects to the internet.

IEEE 802.11ax will aim to address the need for capacity, facilitating more efficient use of available bandwidth to carry more data. This will support these pods, creating connectivity and a more efficient, distributed WiFi indoor infrastructure for our smart homes. 

Today’s WiFi connectivity is bottlenecked by the speed of the data connection to the home. Namely, the speed of data coming into the house is much lower than the transmissions possible in between smart devices and access points. WiFi speeds can be in gigabits per second, but if the connection to the home is way less than that, what good does it do?

Fortunately, WiFi continues to move ahead. While carriers are racing to increase the data rates with FTTH, DOCSIS 3.1 and even LTE/5G gateways, IEEE 802.11ax intends to increase actual data throughput, focusing on higher capacity in the home. In addition, robust technologies to reduce interference are enabling multiple radio systems in the smart home.

To achieve a truly connected smart home, an enhanced Pod in Every Room design has the potential to achieve distributed WiFi architecture with IoT communications. Because every pod serves as a wireless access point, every access point will support WiFi and IoT standards. This includes the home’s increased WiFi requirements as well as Zigbee and Bluetooth devices. 

With IEEE 802.11ax, all devices would talk to the wireless router on multiple channels. This design eliminates the need for extra gateways or multiple Ethernet/cable/fibre connections installed within the home to link a mesh system.

In addition, with a Pod in Every Room, there is no need for meshing Zigbee and Bluetooth anymore, and that makes a big difference. No meshing means longer battery life for the devices, simple setup and troubleshooting processes, and lower costs for the user. This enhanced quality of service (QoS) would also help reduce service calls and in-person technician visits for the provider. 

Distributed WiFi will support high and low speed devices in every room. As modern home network access systems download and buffer content through the connection to the house, installing distributed WiFi with high-capacity capabilities can move that content through the house faster, with better quality, making multiple users happier.

The value will be in addressing consumer demand for more seamless connectivity, with support for all technologies, and ensuring IoT devices contribute to a truly smart home environment.

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