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Survey: Pandemic changes home Wi-Fi needs

September 2, 2021

With the rise in remote working and learning, 58 per cent of respondents across the US, UK and Germany said they encountered more home Wi-Fi issues than before the COVID-19 pandemic, and a remarkable 55 per cent said they had daily issues with their home Wi-Fi, according to a recent survey commissioned by service provider managed Wi-Fi solutions provider Airties.

Consumers also strongly prefer their broadband operator take the lead in ensuring a quality Wi-Fi experience, with 80 per cent saying they would rather their broadband subscription included home Wi-Fi networking gear instead of purchasing it themselves through retail.

The survey of 1,525 respondents, who either had to work or learn from home over the past year, illustrates how the COVID-19 pandemic has permanently changed consumers’ expectations for home Wi-Fi.

Unsurprisingly, 90 per cent of people said they are using their home Wi-Fi more now than ever, with, at the top end of the scale, almost half of Americans (48 per cent) using their Wi-Fi for an additional 7-10+ hours per day, compared to 21 per cent of Germans and 36 per cent of Brits. As people sought out quieter places to work or study, the survey found that 65 per cent were using Wi-Fi in unusual places in their homes, such as garages, attics, and patios. This correlates with the 56 per cent who said they have areas in their home where Wi-Fi does not work well, and demonstrates a significant market need for whole-home Wi-Fi solutions.

“During this unprecedented time, people have come to rely on and value their home Wi-Fi more than ever,” commented Philippe Alcaras, CEO of Airties. “We have crossed an inflection point where home Wi-Fi is as vital as electricity for sustaining our way of life – keeping us productive, informed, entertained, and connected. Even as many countries begin opening more, reliance on home Wi-Fi has forever changed. Trends like the ‘enterprisation’ of the home, remote learning and telemedicine are here to stay, and with that comes significant opportunities and challenges for broadband operators around the globe”

Implications for Broadband Operators

According to the survey, 85 per cent of respondents said they value or rely upon their home Wi-Fi more now than before the pandemic, and an encouraging 75 per cent overall indicated that their broadband operator responded well during the pandemic. Nonetheless, 63 per cent said they called to complain about their Wi-Fi and 27 per cent of those respondents said their broadband operator had to organise a technician visit to their home. Of those who did not call to complain, more than a quarter were ‘silent sufferers’ who said they would have liked to call their broadband operator to help fix their Wi-Fi issues but did not because of the time and effort it would require. A disconcerting 49 per cent of respondents said they considered switching broadband operators due to Wi-Fi issues during the pandemic.

Despite these troubling indicators, there were several positive findings for broadband operators. In addition to the 80 per cent preference for broadband operators to include home Wi-Fi gear as part of their broadband service, 58 per cent of consumers said they would consider upgrading to a faster tier of Internet service if their broadband operator offered a premium Wi-Fi system that guaranteed both faster and consistent Wi-Fi in every room of their home. Of those who would consider upgrading, 70 per cent said they would be willing to pay at least $5/€5/£5 extra for faster and consistent Wi-Fi in every room of their home. Notably, 86 per cent expect the fastest Internet package to come equipped with a whole-home Wi-Fi system that would guarantee coverage in every room.

Another key finding could inform new Smart Wi-Fi business models for broadband operators aimed at employers. 39 per cent of respondents said they were reimbursed by their employer for new Wi-Fi gear they purchased during the pandemic, and 32 per cent of respondents said their broadband subscription was subsidised by their employer. There is also a high level of interest for additional services, such as advanced security. Of those not already paying for it, 36 per cent would be willing to pay extra for advanced security, and the remaining 64 per cent expect it to be included as part of their broadband package.

New Airties Cloud Usage Statistics

In addition to the survey results, Airties also revealed that it now actively manages more than 33 million homes globally through the Airties Cloud platform. Airties Cloud orchestrates Wi-Fi across millions of homes, optimising operator gateways and extenders in real time to ensure a better quality of experience for consumers. Airties Cloud provides insights on the millions of users and their connected devices. It also allows operators to address the evolving needs of consumers, such as cyber security, through a suite of digital services.

On a daily basis, Airties Cloud now supports more than 646 million actively connected devices, and cumulatively, in excess of 1.2 billion unique devices have been managed by Airties Cloud. Currently, there are an average of 19.6 connected devices per home. The mix of devices across homes is notable, with, on average for Wi-Fi connected devices; 16 per cent are Wi-Fi 6 (11ax); 44 per cent are Wi-Fi 5 (11ac); 39 per cent are Wi-Fi 4 (11n); and 1 per cent are older legacy devices (11g or earlier). This split shows how rapidly the new generation of Wi-Fi is penetrating the installed base while co-existing with legacy devices. This complexity requires a fully managed solution and deep expertise to ensure optimal performance for all devices and applications, such as Airties provides to operators today.

Categories: Articles, Broadband, Consumer Behaviour, Equipment, Equipment, Home Network, In Home, Markets, Research

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