Standards essential to help the smart home get smarter (before it has a nervous breakdown)

via Flickr © Gavin St. Ours (CC BY 2.0)

via Flickr © Gavin St. Ours (CC BY 2.0)

  • 76% of service providers already use or are planning to use Broadband Forum’s User Services Platform (USP) by the end of 2021
  • The Forum sees the platform as a way of keeping the increasing number of smart devices in the home defragged
  • Fragmentation is the biggest enemy of progress, but will be overcome by the use of global standards

The Broadband Forum claims that it’s doing a good job of impressing on the world’s broadband service providers how important its standard services platform will prove to be as broadband service deployment to the home continues to accelerate. It claims that more than three out of  four broadband service providers have either started to implement the Broadband Forum’s User Services Platform (USP) or plan to do so in the next year, according to the forum’s new report

Stuffing the home with devices

Users are still buying smart home devices at an alarming rate (a further rise of 75 per cent is projected by 2025) and more and smarter devices means more potential complexity for the home network and whoever is tasked with keeping it running smoothly.

The report highlights the problem of fragmentation in home CPE and middleware as the biggest barriers to home network growth. That’s because the inevitable response to specific problems is that small innovative firms tend to invent improvements to things like Wi-Fi mesh schemes. Of course one-off improvements lead to chronic interoperability problems up the track as new home technologies pile in.

“As the demand for connected home services continues to proliferate, service providers are playing less of a central role in the consumers’ smart homes and have instead decided to partner or concentrate on enabling third parties to play their role within a managed service offering,” according to the forum’s Vice President of Strategic Marketing and Business Development, Craig Thomas. “This has led to the fragmentation which industry wide standards play a pivotal role in combating.” Whether the broadband forum does effective outreach to try to influence new product developers towards it’s standards ‘before’ they become network unicorns is harder to say. 

About that complexity

The report reveals that 75% of global broadband subscriptions will be on tariffs with speeds of more than 100Mbps by 2025. 16% will be on speeds of 1Gbps or more and the average global download speed of over 350Mbps by 2025 as more service providers actively invest in the home network and shift their attention to addressing consumer dissatisfaction surrounding home Wi-Fi related issues. 64% of respondents advised that slow broadband speed is the most common cause of user support calls, followed by Wi-Fi device configuration/setup (40%) and broadband latency/jitter (38%).

There was an old lady who...

The report highlights the fact that service providers traditional first (and often only) response to slow speed, jitter or pathetic range is usually to offer Wi-Fi extenders. “You’re having a  problem with that product, here’s another product which should fix things.” As the old lady in the song found out to her cost, sooner or later the problem just becomes too big to swallow.  

The Broadband Forum’s User Services Platform (USP) shoud help service providers manage the complicated connected-home environment. It creates a data model, architecture, and communications protocol to enable devices from many vendors to connect to the Wi-Fi home gateway. These can then be managed by the broadband service provider, opening up new business model opportunities to digital service providers as a consequence.

To read the survey report in full, visit:  

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