While it’s clear that increased video streaming is already affecting service providers, in the future, the connected home will create further issues. It won’t be long until it’s normal for homes to feature smart temperature controls and home security systems. Appliances like washing machines and refrigerators will connect to the Internet and send push notifications to your mobile device to help you manage your daily lifestyle.
So, where do you fit in as a service provider?
It’s important to realize that you offer subscribers the means to enable this technology. Service providers are in the unique position to monetize the trend towards machine-to-machine communication by selling services that simplify a subscriber’s life. For example, this might include:
- Home automation management bundles
- Home monitoring packages
- Centralized control for apps and gadgets
However, right now there are multiple obstacles to enabling the all-IP home, including:
1. IPv6 and IPv4
Are you prepared for IPv6? You’ll need to explore dual-stack solutions, since legacy devices may not support IPv6. You should also look into finding a central way to view your resources and manage the transition process.
2. Increased Bandwidth Requirements
Demand is already high but these new IP services are going to require even more bandwidth. Increasing the pipe will only go so far — you need to be smart about network management. How can you understand what’s going on in the home network unless you can see past the gateway? Tools that use TR-069 will allow you to see into the customer premises network to improve diagnostics and troubleshooting. At the same time, monitoring tools that utilize IPDR and SNMP are useful for gathering bandwidth usage and network health information to help with smart congestion management. In the future, software-defined networks may also play a role in providing faster-routing configurations.
3. Increased Number of Vendors and Device Types
We don’t know what the future holds but we can expect to see more vendors and more device types. An increase in network types (think X10, Zigbee, Bluetooth, etc.) will present additional challenges and future innovations are difficult to predict. To avoid disconnected solutions and encourage interoperability, the industry needs to encourage consumer electronic providers to standardize their offerings.
4. User Experience Quality
This is the biggest issue of them all. How can you guarantee service quality in a complex, connected home environment? You may need to look at introducing probes that monitor service quality. Then there are networking issues inside the home, poor WiFi set-ups, and multiple interfaces to consider. Again, TR-069 monitoring may help you better understand problems on the residential network. Users are becoming more sophisticated and the development of self-service portals and simple-to-understand user interfaces will go a long way to alleviate pressure on customer service representatives by letting subscribers monitor their own devices.
Overall, the future looks bright for the connected home. Service providers are in a unique position to enable new IP services and generate new revenue streams in the process. However, you’ll need to be willing to address the above issues and adapt your services to suit the changing needs of subscribers.