Increasing demand for Connected Home devices drives home case for standardization
By Jason Walls, Director of Technical Marketing, QA Cafe and “Broadband User Services” Work Area Director, Broadband Forum
For millions of Americans, working from home has become the new normal. In the wake of the coronavirus health crisis, many of the country’s businesses, including its biggest employers and highest valued companies, have instructed their workforces to either stay home or work from home, if possible. Employees from California to Connecticut have transplanted their workplace office spaces into their kitchens, bedrooms and spare rooms as daily meetings reconvene on Zoom and monthly stakeholder briefings swap handshakes for virtual hellos.
As growing numbers of people social distance or self-isolate, global tech market advisory firm ABI Research estimates that Connected Home devices could see a 30% year-on-year sales surge in the coming months. Voice controlled appliances that can reduce the tough ratio between surfaces, online shopping reducing contact between people in a time of social distancing, and smart doorbells or home cameras allowing us to receive deliveries in a safer manner are playing a part towards this market growth.
For service providers, this means added pressure to react to and manage demands for efficient, secure and cost-competitive services. Furthermore, the changes to our in-home habits and emphasis on online shopping could result in greater adoption of Connected Home devices, long after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
The increased demand on ISPs’ bandwidth and the expected proliferation of smart devices brings a new set of challenges for service providers. How these devices can be managed, monitored, and upgraded is no easy feat. Adding complexity to the challenge, consumers are turning to their broadband service providers for support with smart home device-related issues.
Considerations for service providers
Service providers are being held responsible by consumers for poor device and application performance because end-users don’t typically distinguish between device integration, applications support, and Internet service. Instead, they view it as part of their overall broadband experience from the service provider, even though Wi-Fi equipment is bought independently.
With the heightened use of connected devices due to the changing trends, service providers must also consider the increasing risk of potential security flaws and breaches. Innovative new applications and services have provided fertile ground for new security threats and other potential issues for end-users.
The broadband home router, as standard equipment for any subscriber, serves as a central point for connectivity and network security in the home. This means that service providers can provide a single point for billing and customer support, simplifying a complex environment for the end-user and improving their experience. This offers a way for service providers to capitalize on their role as the “go-to” for customers’ overall broadband experience.
Managing the Connected Home
The evolution of TR-069 for the Connected Home, Broadband Forum’s User Services Platform (USP) – which uses the best of open source and standards – is set to become increasingly relevant as service providers play a more central role in consumers’ smart homes. The platform opens the door to new use cases essential to responding to rising consumer demand and expectations. These include Wi-Fi management, network security, parental control, home security, home automation, and a host of other services that can all be enabled with a system of USP agents and controllers.
USP is enabling a truly interoperable ecosystem for user services, including through partnerships with third party application providers to essentially create an “app store for the subscriber”. It is accelerated by the continued evolution of the open source USP Agent, as well as a robust certification program for manufacturers to prove their products work as part of a USP system.
- Stay up to date with Broadband Forum’s Broadband User Services (BUS) Work Area as it responds to the increasing demand on Connected Home device usage in its work to help service providers control the connected home business model, here: https://wiki.broadband-forum.org/display/BBF/Broadband+User+Services.