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Pandemic-fuelled ‘Enterprisation’ of home is an opportunity for service providers offering whole-home Wi-Fi

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Consumers would strongly prefer their broadband operator to take the lead in ensuring a quality Wi-Fi experience in the home, with 80% saying they would rather their broadband subscription included home Wi-Fi networking gear rather than having to purchase that equipment themselves through retail. This is one of the findings in a survey of 1,525 respondents spread evenly across the U.S., U.K. and Germany, conducted by Qualtrics and commissioned by AirTies, which supplies managed Wi-Fi solutions to service providers.

With the survey commissioned in Q2 (2021) and focused on users who had to work or learn from home over the previous year – and therefore taking full account of pandemic lockdowns – the results indicated a significant market need for whole-home Wi-Fi solutions. With people seeking out quieter places to work or study, the survey found that 65% used Wi-Fi in unusual places in their homes, such as garages, attics and patios. Meanwhile, 56% of people said they have areas in their home where Wi-Fi does not work well.

The survey confirms that whole-home Wi-Fi is a service opportunity for broadband providers. 58% 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% 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% expect the fastest Internet package to come equipped with a whole-home Wi-Fi system that would guarantee all-room coverage.

The survey showed a high level of interest in other broadband-related services that operators are well placed to provide, such as advanced security. Of those not already paying for advanced broadband security, 36% would be willing to pay extra for this feature. The remaining 64% expect it to be included as part of their broadband package.

AirTies talks of the ‘enterprisation’ of the home because of activities ranging from remote learning to telemedicine. The company’s CEO, Philippe Alcaras, advises: “These [new at-home activities] are here to stay, and with that comes significant opportunities and challenges for broadband operators around the globe.”

85% of survey respondents said they value or rely upon their home Wi-Fi more now than before the pandemic. AirTies advises broadband service providers to note the trend towards employer-subsidised broadband when thinking about managed service Wi-Fi business models. 39% of respondents said they were reimbursed by their employer for new Wi-Fi gear they purchased during the pandemic, and 32% of respondents said their broadband subscription was subsidised by their employer.

75% of survey respondents indicated that their broadband operator responded well during the pandemic, which does not entirely correspond with the 49% figure for respondents who considered switching broadband operators due to Wi-Fi issues during this period. It is worth noting how the broadband service provider is assumed to be responsible for Wi-Fi in the home even though performance can be affected by issues beyond their control – providing a reasonable argument for why service providers should treat whole-home Wi-Fi as a service management opportunity.

The survey also provided further evidence for why proactive monitoring of home Wi-Fi is essential for service providers. 63% of respondents said they called to complain about their Wi-Fi during the pandemic and 27% of those respondents said their broadband operator had to organise a technician visit to their home. But 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 (thus, nearly 10% fell into the ‘silent sufferer’ category).

The survey reflects the rise in remote working and learning, with 90% of respondents saying they use their home Wi-Fi more now than ever. Perhaps not surprisingly, 58% of respondents said they encountered more home Wi-Fi issues during the Covid-19 pandemic than before it. 55% said they had daily issues with their home Wi-Fi during the pandemic. As of Q2, 48% of Americans in the survey were using their Wi-Fi for an additional 7+ hours per day, and this figure was 36% for the UK and 21% for Germany.

Philippe Alcaras concludes: “During this unprecedented time, people have come to rely on and value their home Wi-Fi more than ever. 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.”

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