Gary Newson, EMEA Sales Director at NETGEAR explains how UK homes are becoming smarter and more connected every day. Smart TVs, wireless speakers, security cameras, smart locks and a myriad of other internet-connected devices are being snapped up by consumers looking to upgrade their living spaces and enhance security, comfort, convenience and entertainment in their homes.

A 2023 survey found soaring adoption rates across smart home categories. 70% of respondents now own a smart TV (up from 65% in 2022), while ownership of video doorbells and external security cameras jumped from 14% to 18%. Smart burglar alarms rose from 5% to 7% and even connected exercise equipment saw an uptick from 3% to 4%.  

However, as more and more bandwidth-hungry gadgets and applications come online, the limitations of current WiFi setups are being severely tested. Existing wireless networks are becoming congested and struggling to reliably support activities, particularly demanding services like 4K streaming, video conferences and gaming – especially when multiple devices are in use simultaneously.

Fortunately, a solution is on the horizon in the form of WiFi 7 – the next generation wireless standard which promises powerful upgrades in speed, capacity and reliability.

The WiFi Alliance officially launched its certification program for WiFi 7 devices in January 2024. This is clearing the path for manufacturers to bring WiFi 7 products to market this year.

So what enhancements can we expect from the new WiFi 7 standard? For starters, it will deliver a blistering 4x increase in throughput speeds compared to WiFi 6E. It also doubles available bandwidth by supporting ultra-wide 320MHz channels.

One of WiFi 7’s most impressive capabilities is its ability to simultaneously connect multiple devices operating at their peak performance. This is a game-changer for busy smart homes where WiFi networks have previously become overloaded and plagued by dropouts.

WiFi 7’s low latency, higher reliability and multi-link operation will finally eliminate these frustrating connectivity problems – even when families are streaming entertainment, working remotely, virtual learning and gaming simultaneously.

The WiFi Alliance predicts over 233 million WiFi 7 devices will be introduced globally in 2024 alone, eventually growing to a staggering 2.1 billion by 2028 as adoption ramps up.

With 8K streaming, extended reality (XR) and holographic video solutions being launched, WiFi 7 will enable a new generation of immersive, ultra-high bandwidth experiences to become part of the home entertainment landscape. 

A survey by NETGEAR in February found that in 2024, 15% aged 18-24 & 14% aged 25-34 planned to buy a smart device for entertainment, e.g. AR/VR and 22% of 25-34 year olds planned to buy a smart device for information, e.g. a smart speaker. 

It’s no surprise therefore, that research firm IDC expects smart home and IoT device categories to be major drivers of WiFi 7 shipments, surpassing smartphones by 2025.

This projected torrent of new WiFi 7 products and usage scenarios represents a huge opportunity for installers and integrators in the smart home market. 

To take full advantage of WiFi 7’s multi-gigabit wireless speeds, throughput and connectivity, consumers will need to upgrade more than just their client devices. Optimising whole-home WiFi coverage is imperative and specialist advice is needed, particularly when it comes to the installation of modern mesh systems. 

The NETGEAR survey found that 31% of respondents said it was likely they would buy or upgrade to a mesh WiFi home solution if it could provide WiFi coverage across their entire home and provide security to all smart devices. 

Using multiple interconnected nodes, mesh WiFi blankets entire properties in a seamless cloud of high-performance wireless connectivity – eliminating WiFi dead zones with the capacity of expanding the coverage on demand simply by adding another note. The latest quad-band 6GHz mesh systems provide the solid foundation required to help homeowners realise their smart home ambitions. 

By specifying cutting-edge mesh WiFi solutions during smart home installations, integrators can future proof their clients’ networks. This ensures a reliable, low-latency wireless infrastructure capable of handling not just today’s smart home devices, but inevitable ultra-bandwidth services that will shortly come onto the market. 

What’s more, selected mesh WiFi offerings integrate advanced cyber security. As the number of connected smart home devices multiplies, this helps prevent unauthorised access while protecting private data from threats.

With WiFi 7’s groundbreaking capabilities removing the shackles of network congestion, residential integrators have a prime opportunity to elevate their service offerings. By designing, deploying and supporting premium whole-home WiFi 7 mesh installations, they can deliver truly smart, seamless connectivity experiences that maximise clients’ technology investments.

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