The COVID-19 lockdown created a new reality that basically overnight demonstrated what the future home would look like. Homes are experiencing an increase in heavy usage of high-bandwidth activities, such as video conferencing, streaming and gaming, in parallel with more connected hardware, legacy and IoT devices all fighting for the home network’s attention. With the pace of 8K video devices, new IoT sensors and everything in the home becoming more connected, this future might be here to stay sooner than expected.
At their peak during the pandemic, network traffic and in-home broadband were up over 22%, according to AT&T. Major contributors to that number include online gaming, which is experiencing a critical moment as usage has been up 50% at some points, according to AT&T. Additionally, video streaming has increased by roughly 32%. As consumers use more connected devices for longer periods, there will be implications and opportunities for both IoT developers and connectivity providers.
To better understand this, Amdocs surveyed 1,000 consumers over the age of 18 and found that consumers have changed the way they relate to day-to-day activities, whether for work, school, healthcare or entertainment. Notably, 30% of consumers have experienced remote work for the first time and 20% have tried remote learning for the first time, according to Amdocs. Many consumers have also taken advantage of new online services such as food or grocery services, media and subscription services, and free trials for services such as HBO and Apple TV.
Though this increase in usage creates new opportunities, it also creates challenges that must be addressed. Consumers aren’t going to simply stop enjoying these new experiences when things go back to normal, and that can create a lot of added stress on home broadband networks as these experiences become more advanced. Both service providers and the IoT developer community must understand the big picture and what the home experience will look like in a singular way. Everything is part of a rich ecosystem in one home.
As device usage increases, so does connectivity expectations
Increased device usage brings a need for a more intelligent broadband approach, especially as consumers project to have upwards of 14 network-connected devices each by 2022. If you are a family of four with the typical accompanying phones, iPads and laptops, you are likely well over that number. This will create a tidal wave on the network of not only hardware but mobile software applications as well. This can cause conflicts throughout the ecosystem. Experienced management, visibility and simplicity will become exponentially more important.
How IoT developers and service providers can set themselves apart
With an influx of devices, services and changes in network habits, broadband connectivity must evolve beyond the pipe scenario and start doing more. This includes better intelligent monitoring and understanding of quality of experience.
Amdocs’ survey also found that consumers are now more willing to buy devices that improve Wi-Fi connectivity. Service providers can set themselves apart by offering smart ways to manage the consumer broadband experience, quickly identifying issues throughout the home and providing interesting insights on behavior. This is where IoT developers come in, ensuring the service provider can integrate their respective software within this experience.
I believe this will lead to the rise of home operating systems, where consumers have easy visibility and control over experiences as well as improved cybersecurity. More importantly, consumers will also have access to data on usage, important events, warnings and more.
One way to seize this opportunity is to implement cloud-based solutions that enable service providers to redefine broadband and reclaim the connected home. As consumers continue to put more stress on the network, in-home connected apps need to be managed. And management must go beyond connectivity and back-end operations.
IoT leaders and service providers can have a pivotal role here if they act quickly. Things will only become more complicated from here on out.
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