Home Analysis Wireless mesh avoids need for wired backbone for ubiquitous home TV service

Wireless mesh avoids need for wired backbone for ubiquitous home TV service

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Metin Ismail Taşkın, Chief Technology Officer, AirTies

Wi-Fi technology has advanced rapidly to the point when it can enable wireless delivery of premium full HD TV portable or fixed devices around the home, such as tablets, laptops and set-top boxes. But this still leaves the big challenge of coverage, since many if not most homes have points where the signal is weak such that bit rate is either too low or insufficiently consistent for video, or even sometimes basic Internet connectivity. This cannot be solved just by increasing the power of routers or central Access Points (APs), for this alone cannot guarantee a consistent signal in distant parts of a house separated from that single AP by several walls or ceilings. It is common now for households to have at least two places where HD video is consumed regularly, say a master bedroom and the living room, and quite often more. There is often no way of locating a single AP to service all rooms where a good signal is required.

The result is that until recently it has been commonly assumed that the only way to ensure consistent Wi-Fi performance around a home was to install a backbone wired network interconnecting multiple APs, using say Ethernet cable, coax cable via the MoCA standard, or power cables via HomePlugAV. MoCA is not common in every country and power cables are not reliably high speed because of noise injected by other electronic devices inside the home. Ethernet cables would be ideal but that usually requires some onsite installation work, rather defeating the object of having Wi-Fi in the first place, incurring costs for operators or home owners. 

Fortunately there is now an alternative to wired backbones that restores the full promise of Wi-Fi as a wireless technology. With our Wireless Mesh technology we can enable whole home coverage with full Wi-Fi bandwidth by deploying multiple APs in different rooms to create the resiliency and throughput needed for premium video services – but this time without any wired backbone. A good way to picture a wireless mesh is to imagine the nodes as being connected by virtual wires in the same way as a conventional physical mesh. The key point is that the multiple APs work intelligently in harmony and create multiple paths to each end point. The network traffic is routed through the best path in order to maximize the end to end speed depending on the source and destination of each video or data stream. The number of APs required for a reliable mesh is far less than might be imagined. In a typical home it is just two, while three APs will be enough in almost all cases. Furthermore the mesh does not require expert configuration but can be set up readily by the consumer, avoiding need for home visits. 

Not only is coverage improved but so is performance, which has the great advantage that broadband operators can actually deliver much closer to the bit rate they advertise. It avoids the all too common situation where an operator delivers say 50 Mbps to the router, but only 1 Mbps to a device in a bedroom, which is not enough even for standard definition TV. Wireless mesh will therefore increase customer satisfaction, reducing complaints and ultimately churn.

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