We were privileged to speak with Shawn Omstead, VP Residential Products at Bell Canada for the preparation of our upcoming report “From Managed Home Wi-Fi to Enabling the Secure Smart Home 2018-2023” on home managed Wi-Fi. We provide here a summary of our conversation.
What do you see as the top 3 sources of poor Wi-Fi performance in the home?
In most cases, we see devices stuck in the noisy 2.4GHz band because the legacy gateways do not support band steering. Very often we deliver the promised throughput which is usually 300MBps average on fibre but consumers who run speed tests see lower rates because the device (phone or tablet) itself does not support such high data rates. Therefore educating consumers about those issues is key as part of our customer support
What are your main business objectives with the deployment of managed Wi-Fi ?
Since November 2017, we have launched whole home Wi-Fi as a service for $5/month in which we include 4 pods and manage the gateway on behalf of the consumer. We do not support 3rd party routers. Our footprint includes 7 million broadband homes including 3.5 million FTTH, DSL and 3.5 million FTTN. So far we only integrated one gateway with a 2nd one to come soon. We already have thousands of paying customers who have been attracted by our whole home Wifi internet in the home offer. For Bell, the top motivation of managed Wi-Fi is customer acquisition, followed by churn reduction and then cost reduction in the form of reduced service calls and truck rolls. So it is mainly a revenue generating tool.
How many connected devices do you see in your average home served?
We already see about 12-13 connected devices per home in our network and it is accelerating so we need to be prepared to support, manage and secure all these devices.
Why did you choose Plume over other vendors?
We selected Plume over other vendors such as Airties because Plume integrated quite well with our gateway solution from Sagemcom. We also liked the nice design of their pod, the cloud element as well as the team working around Plume’s CEO Fahri Diner. His leadership and commitment were an important part of our decision.
What is the typical home Wi-Fi deployment composed of?
In average we deploy 4 pods per house. Although Ethernet can be used to backhaul these pods, generally wireless backhaul is used. We don’t believe putting more antennas in the main gateways will solve the coverage problem. We prefer the option of the distributed network with low power antennas scattered around the house dynamically.
What is your strategy for home IoT?
We purchased in late 2017, Alarm Force an alarm company which constitutes our entry into managed IoT, providing ADT like service. We expect our strategy to evolve over time.
Stay tuned for our upcoming market report “From Managed Home Wi-Fi to Enabling the Secure Smart Home 2018-2023” to be published at the end of June 2018.