As we did last year in our popular video, we are going to make 5 predictions for 2021, but this time via this blog.  

There are lots of technological and usage dynamics in the connected home, so it is difficult to decide which ones will be major movers in the market and which will have little or no impact or even fall by the wayside. In our work on four continents with Communication Service Providers, Device and Service Vendors, and Online Content Providers, here is how we see 2021 stacking up.

Prediction 1: Data, and tons of it. New technologies, especially AI, will enable the generation and collection of all sorts of data about what millions of users are doing from home on the internet, what devices they are deploying, what kinds of services they are consuming, and lots more. With the windfall of insights garnered from all this new data, media, app, device, and other providers, as well as CSPs, will increasingly be able to understand the behavior and choices of billions of people as they shop, learn, play, and engage with new apps and services online. We forecast a veritable data explosion on the very near horizon.

Prediction 2: Demand for WiFi 6 will disrupt home networks. Known in technical circles as 802.11ax, the new WiFi standard is already operating on a new generation of routers. Delivering improved security, lower battery consumption, increased capacity, and higher data rates, WiFi 6 is ideal for accommodating all those new smart devices that home-internet users are installing. The next router you buy will likely provide WiFi 6 capabilities.

Prediction 3: Measurement of Customer Experience over the internet. Communication Service Providers, Device Vendors, and Content Providers all want to measure Customer Experience (CX), and now they can. They can discover how their devices and services stack up against competitors and how customers go about deciding among so many new offerings. CX measurements will also provide behavioral indicators of impending churn. 

Prediction 4: The cause of malfunctions will be found less in the WiFi and more in the extremes of the Home Internet Service Delivery Chain. Until now, most online service problems (75-90%) have been concentrated around the home router and WiFi signals. As routers become more powerful and as WiFi 6 and mesh networks expand, WiFi will be responsible for relatively fewer of the problems that home users encounter. Now that so many of us are working, learning, and being entertained from home, pesky impediments to our enjoyment will increasingly originate in smart devices, the services they consume, and the remote servers that provide us with content. Therefore, CSPs, responsible for delivering internet service and the home WiFi, will increasingly share more of the burden of technical support with Device and Service Vendors and Content Providers, all of whom will need visibility into the home network.

Prediction 5: Self-Care is prompt care. Customer Care Centers are being crushed by the volume of support calls and the time and complexity of dealing with them, not to mention astronomical expenses. All that new data mentioned in our first prediction will be able to tell users at home what is causing many of their problems while furnishing easy-to-follow recommendations for fixing them. Self-care will deflect and shorten numerous support calls, quickly improving CX and making users happier with their internet sessions.

2021 looks like another banner year for the expansion of connected devices and services, especially in the midst of the ongoing COVID pandemic. Never a dull moment!