In the run up to the Gigabit Access event in Germany next month, Total Telecom spoke to Sebastian Richter, director for product management, home networking, at Devolo to discuss the key challenges and opportunities defining the industry

At Gigabit Access this year, you’ll be talking about the importance of home networking. Why did you pick this subject and why is it important to you?

Because the Internet of Things is moving into our homes, making it as important to talk about home networks as it is to talk about the best access technology: More and more items in our homes are connected, e.g. experts from Gartner expect, there will be some 8,4 billion IoT devices by 2020 – most of them in private homes*. They depend on whole-home coverage and strong, stable connections, dead zones are no longer tolerable. Therefore, we need to talk about the best way to provide customers with a solution, that can secure the availability of WiFi or wired Internet access while at the same time it frees customers from bothering with setup and maintenance.


What are the challenges that need to be overcome in the home networking arena? 

Solutions provided to consumers not only have to offer strong performance in terms of peak rates and maximum speeds, they need to ensure, customers get the service they subscribed for everywhere in their entire home. For many carriers and ISPs, it is not easy finding a solution enabling this kind of service level. Therefore, it makes sense to have a close look at the latest combination of powerline communications and Mesh WiFi, instead of thinking of pure WiFi based solutions only. Besides it is important to view the network as a whole – it needs to become one for the customer. That will also help the industry and the ISP.


How important do you think home networking solutions are for customer retention for carriers and ISPs?

We are convinced, they are highly important: As mentioned, people expect coverage everywhere. But if the gateway provided by the ISP does not ensure network availability across the entire home, customers might buy some cheap solution that still won’t fix the problem and end the dead zones in their home. So, they blame their ISP for a bad user experience, call the hotline and generate service costs – or they might even change their provider. To prevent churn, more and more carriers and ISPs follow a holistic approach and also look at home networking solutions that ensure whole-home coverage. Those who provide their clients with a branded OEM solution are understandably particularly selective in their choice of technology partner, because a solution they sell under their own brand must perform even better to secure customer satisfaction and prevent churn.  


What new technologies are you particularly interested in at the moment?

For us, of course, the latest powerline technology based on the second generation of chips is important, because it enables a performance boost, safes WiFi spectrum in the backbone and opens the way for powerline communications into the future. Moreover, innovations in WiFi are highly relevant, think about EasyMesh for example. We also expect that smart home solutions and the home network will be closely linked in perspective, possibly even merging.


What predictions do you have for the industry over the next 12-18 months?

As far as technology is concerned, we will see that certain buzzwords become concrete products or will be part of upgrades to existing offers. E.g. we will see the spread of EasyMesh and the arrival of WiFi 6. In terms of market trends, recent developments will continue: The demand for solutions providing coverage everywhere is set to further increase. On the part of carriers and ISPs it will be interesting to see how much the demand for managed services will increase. 


Sebastian Richter, director for product management, home networking, at Devolo will be speaking at the Gigabit Access event in Cologne, next month, where he will be giving his insight into innovative home network solutions.
Held from the 2-3rd April 2019, Gigabit Access will bring together the key stakeholders from Europe’s fixed line broadband sector. Click here for more information.