Paul Hendriks, CEO at Gamgee says end-users ca be IT managers of their own homes.

Data from myriad smart devices traverse the broadband networks in our homes, making them a hive of interconnected activity. These devices powered by home Wi-Fi have enhanced and enriched our everyday lives. New and innovative services and applications, powered by the Internet of Things (IoT), have seen smart devices in the form of speakers, cameras, thermostats, doorbells, voice assistants, and sensors become key staples within the connected home.

Consumer expectation of the smart home has grown. Their interest has been piqued regarding the usage of next-generation applications, such as augmented reality and virtual reality. Therefore, broadband service providers are looking to heed the proclamations of standards development organizations of moving beyond just delivering higher speeds and more bandwidth to provide a greater Quality of Experience (QoE) to the end-user. Greater device management within the home network and offering new value-added services as part of broadband subscriber packages.

Differentiated service offerings present new revenue opportunities for broadband service providers. They help to enrich and redefine the user experience. But unlocking the full potential of the smart home depends on the use of reliable, ubiquitous connectivity.

Making end-users the IT managers of their own home

Smart home management solutions that can be deployed seamlessly to existing networks can be used by broadband service providers as an upselling engine to drive additional sales within the smart home and increase customer satisfaction, leading to less customer churn. For the end-users, it can be a self-servicing asset. It negates the need for installers to provide fixes and users can control and “own” their home broadband network. A smart home management solution - such as a mobile app - can not only improve home networking, but it can also double up as a powerful customer engagement tool.

This smart home management app can be integrated with the customer’s smart home router software to deliver enhanced insights and help manage the applications common within the smart home. For example, the app could provide an overview of all the devices connected to the router, while measuring Wi-Fi traffic and performance. It can allocate and prioritise bandwidth for certain devices when needed, such as a laptop for a work meeting over another user in the home network streaming videos on a tablet. These detailed learnings of the users within the home can be important, analysing network behaviour to aid service providers’ customer support.

Alongside easier navigation, a simplified user experience and a streamlined process for delivering new services can unlock new revenue. A number of value-added services including home automation, home alarm, identity protection and security can be offered. Users have a greater capacity to manage their own home routers, with the right solution delivering a clear overview of the connected devices in the home and recording key measurements including Wi-Fi traffic and performance.

Keeping end-users satisfied

A smart home solution that is an app on a digital phone is no new phenomenon, but broadband service providers are missing a trick if the user is not aware of it.

However, if the app is hidden away, it may as well not exist. But if users see it as a digital smart home platform that manages their digital lives, then it becomes incredibly valuable. When users depend on it, service providers can increase average revenue per user (ARPU) and lower customer churn.

Simply by offering a sample, trial or free service, product-led growth can be captured. The likes of recurring subscriptions and additional value-added services as part of broadband packages can ensure potential customers sign on for a longer period. All users have their favourite and most visited apps on their phones or tablets, and the ones that prove to be the most successful and popular are the ones that engage and entice them.

Navigating the security stress of the smart home

With the rise of expensive devices and virtual storage of important files, customers are demanding security services in both the online and real world.

Security risks and connectivity issues pose significant hurdles to overcome. The main problems within the home are all Wi-Fi related. Notably, 45% of all issues revolve around the loss of wireless connectivity. More connected devices are unidentifiable due to the use of MAC randomisation. Therefore, reduced device visibility and device obfuscation pose significant headaches to broadband service providers looking to protect and safeguard the home.

The average smart home could succumb to a cyber-attack as they are prevalent in today’s digital word. There are reportedly around 12,000 attacks every week in each home. It therefore comes as no surprise that cybercriminals consider IoT devices ripe fruits to be picked. While almost a third of all devices are IoT, the traffic travelling over these networks are mostly unencrypted (98%). This means that confidential data is exposed. Home routers, in turn, are vulnerable to cyber-crime thanks to these potentially hacked IoT devices.

Better security services, data privacy protection and device identification and management can all be provided by a suitable smart home management application. That is why delivering an improved level of trust and simplification of home device management is a win-win.

Securing the home with Wi-Fi sensing

The smart home of the future will use the power of Wi-Fi for far more than simply broadband connectivity. Services including home security, care, and energy saving can all be provided through an Internet connection if end-users have a home or mesh network with the application intelligence built into one service.

One use case that could be particularly of interest to customers is greater home security measures via a home alarm solution that blends Wi-Fi sensing and Artificial Intelligence (AI). A home Wi-Fi network can act as a protective radar for customers and provide real-time security alerts. With no cameras or sensors, a mesh network and a suitable smart home management solution can intelligently detect motion and differentiate between family members, pets, guests and intruders.

Adapting to the environment, the system can use the electromagnetic waves of Wi-Fi to provide full coverage of the home with no blind spots, even through walls and in darkness. An innovative smart home alarm system can recognise reflections in the Wi-Fi signals they transmit which are then analysed by AI powered algorithms to determine if there is motion.

Privacy is also assured, ensuring no sensitive data leaves the home. It can overcome the limitations of traditional home security systems, such as a lack of customisation or false alarms eroding consumer trust.

The smart home of the future

With a rich feature set to manage the connected devices and services on the home network, the most appropriate, user-friendly smart home management solution is the one that doubles up as a digital smart home platform. This can pay dividends for BSPs that can offer more value-added services and trigger greater ARPU as users look to overcome the security worries prevalent in today’s smart homes.