Qualcomm to ISPs: Mesh WiFi networking via IEEE 802.11ax is the future of smart homes

Mesh networking can centralize IoT and other devices in smart homes and make them easier to manage, according to Qualcomm’s Connectivity Business unit lead, Rahul Patel.  Carrier-class mesh networking could resolve connection issues, said Patel  who strongly suggests internet service providers (ISPs) offer a mesh networking service.

  • Market research firm Gartner predicts that 8.4 billion connected “Things” will be in use in 2017, up 31 percent from 2016.
  • GMSA report “The Impact of the Internet of Things: The Connected Home”   suggests that up to 50 connected or Internet of Things (IoT) devices will be in use in the average connected home by 2020.

According to Qualcomm’s Wi-Fi router consumer survey of 1500 respondents from the UK, France, and Germany this year, 50% said they use a device in three different rooms simultaneously.  [Those folks must have a lot of people living in their homes with separate rooms!]

Today, home broadband networks sometimes find themselves buckling under the weight of numerous mobile, IoT, and connected devices. Information streams can become confused, bottlenecks occur, and ISP throttling can cause too much strain for efficiency or reliability (expect more of this as FCC has just repealed net neutrality rules).

Qualcomm’s mesh technologies, including Wi-Fi SON, are already used by vendors including Eero, Google Wi-Fi, TP-Link, Luma, and Netgear.

Qualcomm is directing its mesh WiFi standards efforts within the IEEE 802.11ax task group which it serves as co-vice chair.  That specification is being designed to improve overall spectral efficiency, especially in dense deployment scenarios. It’s predicted to have a top speed of around 10 Gb/s and operate in the already existing 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz spectrum bands.

Qualcomm has created a 12-stream mesh WiFi platform powered by a quad-core iCMOS micro-processor with a 64-bit architecture.

Editor’s Note:

IEEE 802.11ax draft 3.0  is scheduled to go out for IEEE 802.11 Working Group Letter ballot in May 2018 with Sponsor Ballot scheduled for May 2019.  Please see references for further details.


Patel says that development is already in play to use the platform, and mesh will be the “next big thing” for the Wi-Fi industry, with products expected to appear in the market based on Qualcomm technologies in the second half of 2018.

Carrier-class mesh networking could be used to map entire neighborhoods, in which connectivity problems can be quickly detected and fixed without constant customer reports, complaints, and costly engineer footfall.

As consumers expect more from their home Wi-Fi, however, they also expect ISPs to make sure systems are in working order and deliver what they promise.

“The operator is shouldering the burden of fixing issues in the home,” Patel says. “If they don’t, cloud providers such as Google will take over.”

If ISPs do not rise to the challenge, consumers may choose to go to a cloud provider instead.

“That [home] traffic is getting piped into their clouds rather than BT or Sky, and so ISPs are losing out on the traffic they are piping into someones home,” Patel added. “You as an operation are perceived to be the one to support the Wi-Fi in the home.”

“If you (ISPs) don’t move fast, you lose out on the home becoming a cloud providers’ and have no control over what happens in the home,” Patel said.