Mesh Networking is the Future of Smart Homes, According to Qualcomm
If you’ve shopped for a router anytime in the past five years, you’ve probably heard of mesh networking. It’s a hot new category popularized by platforms such as Eero and Google Wi-Fi, and Qualcomm thinks it’s the key to stable, fast, and reliable connectivity.
The idea of a “smart home” used to be the stuff of dreams, but it’s more or less a reality now. Bluetooth locks can unlatch doors automatically for you; Wi-Fi-enabled smart refrigerators alert you when you’re running out of groceries; and wireless lightbulbs automatically dim when you queue up a Netflix movie.
It’s a lot of data traffic to worry about, and that’s where Qualcomm’s mesh networking technology comes in. A new version of the chip maker’s 802.11ax Wi-Fi SON standard, which is already in use by TP-Link, Luma, and Netgear, and others, can be powered by Ethernet cabling and scaled up to an entire neighborhood, the company said.
That’s invaluable at a time when 50 percent of consumers in the UK, France, and Germany use connected devices in three different rooms simultaneously, according to a recent Qualcomm survey. Internet of Things (IoT) and home automation products are an outsized contributor: Gartner predicts that 8.4 billion connected devices will be in use in 2017, up from 31 percent in 2016.
But Qualcomm thinks mesh networks can do more than just connect your lightbulbs. They can automatically fix issues, centralize the control of data, media, and IoT devices, and even lay the groundwork for managed connected device services and data analytics, the company said.
It’s incumbent on internet service providers to lead the charge, Qualcomm’s Rahul Patel, SVP & GM of the company’s Connectivity Business unit, told ZDNet. “The operator is shouldering the burden of fixing issues in the home. If they don’t, cloud providers such as Google will take over.”
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