Nine-tenths of broadband households to have Wi-Fi by 2019

DetailsEditor | 26 June 2015

In a huge boost for in-home streaming, research from IHS has found that the share of global households with Wi-Fi gateways or routers supplied by service providers will rise from 66% in 2014 to nearly 90% in 2019.

Solid Wi-Fi has become an increasingly important strategic element driving services such as streaming high quality over-the-top (OTT) video as the number of connected devices per household continues to rise, driving the need for more connectivity. In North America alone, said IHS, there will be nearly 13 connected devices per broadband household in 2019, compared with just ten in 2014. The analyst added that the proliferation of connected devices runs parallel to heavy ISP infrastructure investments designed to provide higher bandwidth speed and the budget to market it to subscribers and prospects.

"Wi-Fi and Internet have come to mean the same thing to most consumers," said John Kendall, senior analyst, IHS Technology. "In the past, a home network was a relatively simple proposition: connect your PC, your laptop, and maybe a printer to a wired modem or a retail router, with the PC as the main control point. However, today many households have multiple smartphones, TVs, tablets, streaming OTT boxes, and even pay-TV set-top boxes. All of them depend on home Wi-Fi networks to access media content, which places a serious burden on the broadband gateway."

The report also showed that the rising number of devices can cause significant bandwidth congestion and quality-of-service issues with streaming video. Wi-Fi has had to compete on wireless spectrum with other home wireless devices, including cordless phones and microwave ovens, which have caused signal degradation.

"In the past the bandwidth bottleneck has occurred in the last mile, but more recently it has shifted to the home Wi-Fi network, as these devices primarily consume content over Wi-Fi," Kendall added. "The sheer number of devices using Wi-Fi is forcing ISPs to take ownership of the home network," Kendall said. "It does a service provider little good to provide gigabit or even a 100 megabit-per-second service tier, if the home Wi-Fi network cannot accommodate that higher level of service. Since most devices in the home are connected wirelessly, consumers increasingly judge their ISP's performance, and the value of their subscription, according to the quality of Wi-Fi throughput."