The home gateway has become a major focus of Internet service providers in meeting the requirements of their subscribers. According to IHS Technology, the residential gateway market is expected to triple from 2012 to 2015 . IHS states that this increase represents the gateway’s role as the core of the digital living room. Quite simply, the gateway is the hub for all traffic to and from the home — for entertainment, home automation, education, eHealth, and other core applications — and has come to represent the presence and growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) inside the connected home.
The Internet of Things means that devices, equipment and applications that were never interconnected are today embedded with sensors, interfaces and often software that allow them to communicate, either via wires or wirelessly, with one another and with control or computing systems over the Internet. The Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group defines IoT as the point when there are more objects connected to the Internet than people, with the result that consumers’ lives are improved through automation or convenience.
Many of the new connected devices will be in the home. Additionally, Gartner projected that the IoT will result in $1.9 trillion in global economic “value-add” from the combined benefits that businesses obtain through the sale and usage of IoT technology .
Bandwidth must scale to meet consumer satisfaction
How will the explosion in the number of connected devices affect broadband connection? Consumers already expect their connection to be fast and flawless. According to a survey completed by Cisco, 38 percent of the respondents have contacted their Internet provider and 26 percent have had a technician visit due to “slow” connection issues .
The addition of new connected devices means that bandwidth will need to scale to support everything from the microwave to the smart television. There is also a multitude of devices that are being connected to make homes safer; smart locks are now available that let you remotely lock the door to your home from your smartphone or even your PC. Another all-too-common scenario is the remedy for the harried consumer who forgot to turn off the oven, but the oven too can now be turned off remotely from a smartphone.
Those conveniences will improve safety in the home. But they will also create an added strain on the network, in part due to connected entertainment. According to Business Insider Intelligence, one-third of all homes in the United States have a connected television .Half of those connected televisions are smart televisions, and 63 percent of survey respondents said that they are satisfied with their smart television and would buy an additional one for their bedroom.
Consumers are also streaming and uploading video, which puts a strain on bandwidth. The downstream video can range from Amazon Instant to Hulu or Netflix, but we can’t forget about the popularity of apps in which the need for ample upstream bandwidth is critical. A few examples include Snapchat, Skype and Instagram.
These applications and devices create a need for significantly higher aggregate (downstream plus upstream) data rates.
Providers upgrading technology for high-bandwidth services
Deutsche Telekom (DT) recently noted that it plans to use vectoring technology to double speeds on its VDSL network, theoretically enabling it to deliver speeds of up to 100Mbps for downloads and 40Mbps for uploads, according to a report from the operator at Broadband World Forum . Vectoring, a technology that quells noise on broadband lines, is made possible by quantum growth in semiconductor technology over the past three to five years.
Companies such as Orange, a mobile and broadband service provider from France, provide their customers with triple-play service that includes high-speed Internet, Wi-Fi and HD voice and video applications, bringing consumers a wide range of high-bandwidth services. Those include HD video, online gaming and over-the-top content on multiple screens, including mobile devices.
In order to provide this type of service, Orange upgraded its broadband processor in its Livebox Play residential gateway in order to meet the requirements needed for triple-play and boost performance for its customers. This is just one example of how service providers are upgrading technology in order to ensure that customers are able to stream high-bandwidth services.
Large vs. nimble carriers
The market for connected devices is still in the early stages, and there is no sign of slowing down. Research shows, again and again, that consumers are excited about the capabilities of connected devices and the potential of the Internet of Things. Timotheus Hotttges, CEO of Deutsche Telekom, when discussing the IoT recently, said that large carriers will have to work with younger, nimbler companies to bring new services to subscribers and that operators will have to build what he called “sockets,” through which new applications from these companies could “plug into” the carrier’s architecture, to enable new services .
High-throughput, short-loop performance
Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and semiconductor developers have completed trials during which they were able to reach an aggregate of 150Mbps at up to 500 meters on existing copper infrastructure. This achievement creates opportunity for the service providers to enhance their broadband offering and increase customer loyalty while leveraging their existing investment in broadband infrastructure. A few companies have also demonstrated aggregate rates of up to 300Mbps at 200 meters from the distribution point.
This high-throughput, short-loop performance plays a key role in Fiber-to-the-Distribution-Point (FTTdp) deployments. FTTdp is commonly used when fiber connects to copper lines, eliminating the need to drive fiber all the way into the subscriber’s residence. FTTdp takes advantage of the hundreds of millions of copper lines that already extend into consumer residences, making costly FTTH deployments unnecessary.
The IoT era is just beginning. Consumers are excited about the possibilities of IoT, creating pressure on broadband service providers to upgrade their technology and ensure that scalable and reliable bandwidth will be available to the always-connected consumer.
Kourosh Amiri is vice president of marketing at Ikanos. He has more than 20 years’ experience in the semiconductor industry and has been responsible for the successful introduction of products targeting a range of applications in the networking, communications and consumer segments. Amiri joined Ikanos in February 2013 to lead the company’s global marketing and product strategy. Residential Gateway Market Projected to Triple from 2012 to 2015, https://technology.ihs.com/389485/residential-gateway-market-projected-to-triple-from-2012-to-2015  Gartner Says the Internet of Things Installed Base Will Grow to 26 Billion Units By 2020, http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2636073  Bandwidth Consumption and Broadband Reliability, http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/products/collateral/cloud-systems-management/prime-home/white_paper_c11-711195.html  THE INTERNET OF EVERYTHING: 2014 [SLIDE DECK], http://www.businessinsider.com/the-internet-of-everything-2014-slide-deck-sai-2014-2#-26 “Deutsche Telekom doubles broadband speed with vectoring, http://www.telecoms.com/49595/deutsche-telekom-doubles-broadband-speed-with-vectoring/  Beyond the hype: Internet of Things shows up strong at Mobile World Congress, http://www.pcworld.com/article/2102761/the-internet-of-things-beyond-the-hype-at-mobile-world-congress.html