We caught up with Ian Wheelock, Engineering Fellow at ARRIS, ahead of Broadband World Forum this week.
What will you be discussing in your presentation at BBWF?
I will be presenting how to use existing home gateways as the enabler for advanced services and Internet of Things (IoT) support in the home. This could either be through additional software services or radio interfaces.
The rapid growth in connected home services and equipment is expected to make the underlying connectivity more complex. In particular, a lack of cohesion between third party solutions brings a new set of problems to service providers. And with IoT vendors now able to have a direct conversation with consumers, existing relationships that service providers have with their subscribers could change.
As IoT services become mainstream, for example with applications around healthcare, security, energy, the reliability and integrity of the home network becomes increasingly important with service providers looking to invest in whole home wireless coverage and service assurance.
ARRIS constantly researches new ways to enhance the capabilities of either existing or upcoming home gateways to provide new service offerings in the home. During my presentation, I will outline solutions that will become the bedrock for IoT in the future and how service providers should approach them.
Which demands were the biggest drivers of your company’s growth during the past three years?
Increasing use of bandwidth is one of the fundamental drivers for our business. Whether its OTT streaming, 4K, gaming, cloud, AR/VR, this increasing demand necessitates network advancements to scale to new services and more devices. Simply delivering fast speeds to the home isn’t enough – we’re working to ensure a peerless subscriber experience and differentiated gigabit speeds throughout the home on every device.
Where in times past, one gateway might have been able to serve an entire home, conversations are growing about extending the reach of Wi-Fi and managing the overall wireless experience in the home. We’re able to apply our expertise to help service providers to create a holistic connectivity offering.
What new trends do you anticipate and what market demands do you see over the next five years?
Over the next five years, we expect more IoT solutions will be deployed, particularly in the areas of home automation, energy control and health monitoring. In addition, a revolution is occurring in the Wi-Fi space where service providers realise that high quality Wi-Fi in the home is crucial to both retaining subscribers as well as reducing internal customer support calls.
This is driving requests for high performing Wi-Fi gateways capable of distributing the highest bandwidths throughout the home, as well as Wi-Fi extenders to ensure this bandwidth makes it to every corner of the home.
We also need to continue to think about multi-gigabit speeds and applications in the next few years and how they will impact the way broadband is sold. The pace of innovation in the industry is still very aggressive. We need to plan for a situation where the 50% growth that has happened over the last 30 years will continue for another 10 years or so. At the high end, certain applications such as virtual reality (VR) will bring about a need for multi-gigabit bursting capability with low latency, as opposed to steady state capability.
Also, as the base of UltraHD displays accelerates, announcements of UltraHD programming will become more frequent – initially for premium experiences such as 4K sports from legacy operators and high-quality cinematic/episodic programming from newer OTT entrants. We are likely to see significant growth of the 1080p HDR version of UltraHD as a way to improve the consumer quality of experience for a wide range of content.
Which areas do you think will get the most attention this year?
Wi-Fi in the home will be a big attention-grabber this year. There will be a lot of talk about how to make Wi-Fi a reliable medium for gigabit-speed broadband services and managed video streaming in the home.
We’ll be talking about avoiding interference but also investigating the equipment needed to cover the entire home. Addressing the issue will involve a combination of technologies including Wi-Fi extenders in the home, intelligent management of wireless spectrum, intelligent cloud-based control, and monitoring of the consumer quality of experience.
IoT will continue to be a talking point this year. It will open up a wealth of opportunities but with it comes a set of challenges that the industry must address. For instance, how they deal with the growth in low-power devices. And how do they respond to the resulting network complexity?
Multi-gigabit broadband is accelerating DOCSIS 3.1 deployments so there’s a lot to be said about this area of the industry. With operator field tests starting to take place, we can prepare for an aggressive ramp-up in the coming months.
We can also expect to hear more conversations about the adoption of NG-PON2, 10G EPON, and G.fast. As with DOCSIS 3.1, rollouts have been slow initially but could provide benefits for today’s consumers.
Why are you participating and what connections do you hope to make there?
We are looking to help operators understand how some of their existing or soon-to-launch gateway devices can be enhanced through software to enable new facilities within the home in relation to IoT. We encourage operators to consider OCF as an IoT ecosystem, as well as the work ARRIS is doing on our recently announced Developer Program, where we are opening up the home gateway for 3rd party application development.
Ian Wheelock will be speaking on Leveraging Current and Future Gateway Devices to Unify the Disaggregated Smart Home Dilemma at Broadband World Forum next week in London at the ExCel Convention Centre. We have a limited number of free visitor passes available if you would like to attend. Click here to apply.