Four Emerging Telecom Support Challenges for the Connected Home


According to OMDIA’s Smart Home Forecasts, the number of households with installed connected home devices will grow by 60% over the next five years, totaling 590m households and an installed base of 7.7bn devices.

Over the same period, revenue from device sales and connected home services will grow by 45%, totaling $153bn, making it one of the fastest growing markets in the TMT sector.

“This rapid increase in connected and smart devices will bring significant value to the consumer through new use-cases and ways of delivering services, products and digital applications into the home,” stated the research firm’s report. “However, they will also make the home a more complex place to live. When things go wrong, it will be beyond the capability of the average consumer to solve problems. The burden is likely to fall on service providers.”

The smart home industry is progressing rapidly and service provider support organizations need to keep up with the changes to stay relevant. New smart home infrastructure is developing to support the rise in adoption which, in turn, is placing increased pressure on service and support systems.

Here are four industry-changing smart home support trend predictions expected to impact internet service provider (ISP) customer service levels in 2020:

Connected-home problems will move toward the edges of the service delivery chain. The perception today is that most of the problems that degrade a smooth experience in the connected home are due to WiFi issues. However, as better WiFi products solve more of those problems, other problem locations are growing in relative size (absolute, as well).

In addition to the in-home WiFi, these problems can occur anywhere along the chain from the cloud, through the internet, into the router, or in the devices themselves. Adept service providers will have to gain an acute level of visibility across the entire service delivery chain, detecting problems at any link and analyzing root cause accurately – or waste a fortune on faulty support remedies.

Self-care will be embraced by service providers and subscribers. Until now, numerous lengthy calls to the service provider support center have become compulsory for dealing with subscriber problems with their smart devices and services. As the number of connected devices per home increases sharply, along with the services they consume, the mass and complexity of support calls is rising precipitously, soon to render the trend unsustainable, cost- and personnel-wise.

To cope in 2020, a growing number of support issues will be transferred to the subscribers themselves in the form of self-care. Artificial Intelligence will be the main enabling technology that will either resolve problems automatically, in real time at the source, or that will make helpful recommendations to subscribers for self-help.

The AI will make use of smart speakers, voice assistants, chatbots and smartphones to communicate with subscribers directly, obviating many of those wasteful phone calls to the support center.

Service providers will be compared and evaluated less by the technical details of their internet service and more by the quality of useful services brought to end devices. The traditional metrics will be less critical to subscribers in 2020. The size of the package, in terms of Mbs, or internet speed, will be of minor importance. Instead, subscribers will differentiate between service providers by their ability to support a smooth experience for streaming, gaming and the other services that are growing in use and importance in the connected home.

Installation of mesh networks will cause more inter-dwelling interference. The traditional in-home hub-and-spoke network architecture, where all devices communicate via a central router, is giving way to mesh architectures with numerous extenders in the home.

Mesh networks introduce many more antennas and, with them, greater potential for interference. Establishing a properly working mesh network within one home stands to affect the radio signals in the networks of neighbors. These types of problems are transient and hard to reproduce, not to mention resolve.

Technologies that help to put an end to malfunctions in the connected home as these spaces grow smarter and more complex. When smart devices and services don’t behave efficiently, consumers become frustrated and turn to their Service Providers for help. What telcos/ISPs will require in 2020 and beyond are solutions that autonomously discover smart devices and services, then provide Service Providers with visibility into device and service usage and preferences, enabling perfection and personalization of the customer experience.