issue - Page 10

Cover Story Home improvements Our annual survey examines the evolving world of CPE. Most providers are shifting CPE workload to the cloud, but there is still much to play for in perfecting the balance of what should continue to run on the CPE to provide the ideal service mix – both media and Smart Home. Euromedia spoke to a range of industry practitioners to define the role of CPE in an increasingly cloud-based environment. When Euromedia first undertook its survey of the CPE sector in the early years of the millennium, it concentrated solely on STBs, asking such basic questions as: “Do you offer an HD variant?”, or subsequently: “Do you offer a hybrid option?”. More recent years have included coverage of Smart/Connected TVs, Home Gateways and digital/voice assistants, reflecting the increasingly-connected household and range of content consumption within it. At the start of 2020, few people could have predicted that, given widespread Covid-19 lockdowns, the home would become not only an office, but a ‘venue’ for entertainment consumption, and in many cases, a school, with related connectivity, bandwidth and quality issues. Our questions, in part, reflect this ‘new normal’. With the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic likely to see a rise in home working, will CPE need to evolve accordingly? AirTies: The Covid-19 lockdown and continued reliance on home office has caused both consumers and service providers to recognise the critical importance of home WiFi - beyond what was previously imaginable. Greater dependency on home WiFi is now the new normal. For this reason, progressive service providers are investing in next-generation WiFi software that can automatically optimise home network performance. This software upgrade to deployed CPEs can be combined with cloud solutions to provide real-time insights and QoE diagnostics, enable device/service prioritisation for critical activities (home office, telemedicine, etc.) and proactively 10 EUROMEDIA identify homes that need Smart WiFi extenders for coverage issues. Broadband Forum: This evolution applies not just to the home gateway but all devices behind the CPE from business working, conferencing, smart home and IoT to support the many areas of home working during and post Covid-19. Covid-19 has taught us the need for true zero-touch installations and remote service management. Operators must eliminate installs and support ‘truck rolls’ set up whilst honouring Quality of Experience (QoE) and the increased demands for upstream as well as traditional downstream performance guarantees. Furthermore, there is a need for all services managed throughout the home using connectivity, which is predominantly WiFi and Meshed WiFi. This is precisely why the Broadband Forum has developed the USP industry standard that has evolved from TR-069 and its billion-plus managed CPE devices to all devices in the WiFiconnected home. CommScope: Home networks have had to rise to the challenge and provide the same experience that you have in an office environment. Not only has it had to support to be working from home but also eLearning for almost six months. The question we must answer now is will this have a permanent effect on the workforce and the future with more of us continuing to work from home? If this is the case (many of us believe about 30% of the work force will now work from home) then then there will be more of an emphasis on security, reliability and improved support for more upstream services like video conferencing. Reliable WiFi and access networking connectivity is at core of working from home. New features like low latency DOCSIS will also have a new market for lower latency and higher priority quality of services. Netgem: One clear outcome of the Covid-19 crisis where everyone has been at home is the increased usage of connected devices. This has created a strain on Home networks never experienced before, between Google Meet meetings, School lessons via Zoom, and generally lots of more streaming on various devices. As a result, the immediate implication for all households has been after lockdown to look at their Internet connectivity, and there are two sides to this challenge: • The actual Broadband connection, with a need to move increasingly to ‘Full Fibre’ (1Gb) type of connection • A strong WiFi connection throughout the home, typically involving an extended WiFi of high-quality in the form of a WiFi Mesh solution This is where Netgem has invested, with a fully managed solution for WiFi Mesh with plug-and-play Pods and a simple Mobile App to control the Home network and ensure that