In-home WiFi networks are getting clogged up as more people turn to their connected TV and mobile devices to stream video. To solve this problem, AirTies, a 10 year-old company specializing in whole home wireless networking with significant success in Europe, has announced its entry into the North American market and its first customer Midcontinent Communications, a mid-sized pay-TV operator.
As AirTies Executive Chairman and co-founder Bulent Celebi explained to me yesterday, Europe was a strong initial market for the company due to housing made primarily of stone, brick and concrete - all materials that significantly degrade in-home WiFi signals. Conversely, U.S. housing, made primarily of sheetrock and wood, has traditionally been more tolerant of WiFi signals.
However, even in these homes, with the explosion of devices and video streaming, AirTies’ research showed significant WiFi loss, particularly in parts of homes furthest from the router. This in turn caused WiFi related problems to become the most prevalent call that U.S. broadband service providers’ were fielding from customers. This is a big issue for broadband providers because they don’t have any insight into home WiFi networks and could do little to remedy the problems.
Bulent said mobile devices in particular are a major cause of congestion on WiFi networks because once connected to the network, they remain connected (so-called “sticky client”). As a result, if they are then moved further from the router while streaming, they will consume a disproportionate amount of overall capacity, reducing the performance of other devices on the network.
AirTies addresses these issues by distributing additional access points (APs) around the house, creating an intelligent mesh network. The APs are connected to the router via wired networks like Ethernet, MoCa, PLC or wireless. The APs talk to each other about network conditions, so as mobile devices are moved around the house their connections are dynamically switched to different APs to optimize performance. In its testing, AirTies has found this mesh approach can increase WiFi network capacity by 3x and link speed by 10x.
Bulent said AirTies is focused on partnering with broadband service providers to introduce its mesh products because they have access to the customers and have an opportunity to upsell customers experiencing WiFi problems. Bulent said in Europe broadband providers have taken multiple approaches to introducing AirTies APs, such as simply selling them for around 129 Euros for a pair, offering them for an incremental monthly fee or including them with higher service tiers.
With all the updated connected TV devices that have recently been introduced (e.g. Apple TV, Fire TV, Chromecast, Roku, etc.) as well as soaring mobile video use especially on social networks (e.g. Facebook, Snapchat), it’s clear that in-home WiFi networks are going to be coming under more pressure than ever. That suggests solutions like AirTies will become increasingly popular.