Coverage Gaps: Improving Connectivity in the
Joe Schmelzer, Senior Product Manager, Nextivity
When people think of “connectivity” in the context of the connected home, they frequently make the
mistake of only considering the home’s connection to
the Internet. But the question remains, how to connect
with the systems in the home?
The connected home market is one of the most
dynamic and fastest growing components of the Internet
of Things. Home automation systems are growing more
popular due to the increase in comfort and features
enabled, savings from intelligent energy management,
and improved home security. These systems rely heavily
upon connectivity as one of its architectural pillars. With
connectivity, entirely new home automation concepts
become possible, far beyond the niche market where it
has been for the last 30 years.
Roughly 80 percent of Americans have broadband
in the home. Globally, the number is closer to
50 percent. Initial broadband deployments were
driven by demand for web and email access. As
Internet-based services such as Netflix and Spotify
evolved and became widely adopted, the demand
for broadband has only increased. Conventional
cabling, combined with wireless point of access,
is often adequate for service delivery. As wireless
network speeds improve and costs for wireless data
trends drop, there is an increase in the use of cellular
service for broadband data. Most network operators
offer a “fixed wireless” solution for broadband. These
solutions may include other useful features, like an
RJ- 11 jack for connecting a POTS phone or fax.
However, one pervasive issue with cellular
communications in the home (and in the office)
is indoor coverage gaps. Even though coverage in
a particular region may be ubiquitous, structural
components, concrete and electrical interference,
and environmental factors can impede signals in
portions of a building. While this might be a simple
inconvenience when making calls, the impact could
be greater when an entire home relies on cellular
to communicate. Unlike a smart phone, most
connected home devices are fixed in place. In those
circumstances, an indoor coverage solution that
can give signals an extra boost or provide coverage
exactly where it is needed is the ideal way to solve
Before understanding the options, let’s first look at
the architectural foundations beneath the connected
home. Some we know well. Others are less familiar.
First there is ZigBee, a global wireless standard
(IEEE 802.15.4) that enables simple smart objects
to work together. It is typically used for low data
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