Life in the Fast Lane: The Road to Top Speed Entertainment

The future is speed. The speed to stream 4K over multiple screens. Speed that’s ahead of its time that can deliver the services we haven’t even invented yet. Multi-gigabit speed.

That, according to Cornel Ciocirlan, CTO, EMEA, ARRIS—is the answer to the mounting challenge facing service providers today: how to invest in the infrastructure to drive tomorrow’s services. 

In that context, there are many kinds of speed—from ultimate data rates to the home, to latency times, to wireless signal strength throughout the home. These will be instrumental in delivering virtual and augmented reality, next-generation gaming, cloud-based processing, and more of the experiences that will become mainstream.

Today’s average broadband speed is only 22.1Mbps. And while Europe compares favorably to the rest of the world, many of today’s leading service providers have already chosen from one of the many pathways to tomorrow’s multi-gigabit speeds—including DOCSIS 3.1, G.fast, NG-PON2, and 10G EPON.

However, the next, looming question beyond home delivery is how to enhance gigabit connectivity once it’s in the home…

ARRIS’s latest Consumer Entertainment Index found that people not only want more from their broadband, but that they see Wi-Fi as the limiting factor. Some 72% indicated the importance of high-speed internet in every room, and 54% expressed interest in extend their Wi-Fi beyond its current range.

The conditions in Europe pose a unique set of challenges for these growing demands on the home network… For example, although the average home in Europe is smaller than, say, the US, the construction materials that are popular in Europe generally preclude Wi-Fi signals from reaching every corner of the home. Additionally, the amount of power that legally can be used by a Wi-Fi access point to deliver its signal is notably lower than in many other regions of the world; this specific component of European legislation means that Wi-Fi connection range ultimately will be shorter, especially where higher speeds are involved.

As speeds within the home, especially over the wireless network, become a growing imperative, they underscore such tools and technologies as range extenders and wired backhauls. To achieve the high bandwidth and low latency that’s required to enable advanced, interactive entertainments, for example, some homes will need an extender in every room to deliver consistent data rates throughout the house. That’s why service providers like Get in Norway are offering extenders or amplifiers to their customers now.

Given these conditions, we can envisage homes becoming mesh networks that require a smart gateway to manage all the various access points and extenders that will find their way into the consumer domain.

The question many providers have in mind is how soon we can expect to need gigabit, or even multi-gigabit speeds, throughout the home. We predict that by 2020, it will be a mass-market reality… but at our current trajectory, today’s technology can only sustain a few more years of growth.

In order to maintain a great user experience, service providers must begin investing in home network improvements now.

There’s a lot to be excited about when it comes to the multi-gigabit future. Consumers can look forward to faster speeds and new ways to enjoy content at home. And providers can diversify their product offerings to make the best use of these performance boosts. But the future depends as much on new infrastructure to the home as it does on equipment within the home—from smart gateways to extenders. Only with the right foundation can the industry keep pace with the speed of the future.