An article by Ferri Abolhassan, Managing Director Service Telekom Deutschland GmbH.
We switch on the lights by voice command, we regulate the heating with our smartphone and our shutters automatically close at nightfall. Welcome to the connected home! According to a recent survey by the Bitkom digital association, nearly one in three German citizens (31 percent) already own at least one smart home application. In particular, intelligent lighting and heating systems, alarm systems, smart shutters and awnings as well as smart WiFi outlets are widespread. The introduction of smart solutions into our households is one of the biggest technology trends of recent years. In 2019 alone, sales of smart home products are expected to reach 3.6 billion euros.
There are several reasons for this development: 56 percent of consumers have bought smart home products because they want to increase safety at home. Almost as many are looking for more comfort and quality of life (54 percent). In addition, 38 percent want to use intelligent technology to reduce their heating and electricity costs, whereas 36 percent want to live more energy-efficiently. "Smart home is spreading through the snowball effect: what works well for one person will soon find its way into the homes of friends and acquaintances," says Bitkom President Achim Berg. I can confirm this from my own experience.
The complexity of home networking increases
However, with the introduction of more and more smart devices, the complexity of home networking also increases to the same extent. Everything that can be connected will be connected. Thus, it’s not surprising that almost half of smart home users (48 percent) have sought professional help from a technician to install their home technology. Nearly every fourth person (23 percent) asked friends, acquaintances and colleagues for support. Only 9 percent have installed the smart home solutions themselves, according to Bitkom.
We at Telekom are therefore trying to reduce this complexity and make our Magenta SmartHome solutions as simple and self-explanatory as possible. So that all our customers – whether tech-savvy or not – can easily be part of this trend. With our Home Base, for example, various devices from different manufacturers can be operated centrally and conveniently with just one app or even via voice control. And should our customers ever need support setting up their Magenta SmartHomes, our service experts are always there to help.
Weak WLAN causes frustration
Yet, the installation and operation of devices is only one part of the process. Just as important is the wireless network operating in the background: as a stable WLAN forms the backbone of every connected home. Unfortunately, this is exactly what many households lack. When smartphones, tablets, laptops, TVs, surveillance cameras, radiators, lamps and many other devices are networked via the same WLAN in everyday life, technical conflicts are often inevitable. A weak signal, slow Internet connections or even disconnections then cause family members to feel annoyed and frustrated. As service manager, I know this issue all too well.
My colleagues from the technical customer service and the field service can also tell you a thing or two about it. Internet problems are one of the most frequent reasons why customers contact us. The problem is usually not the connection itself, but various sources of disruption. For example, elevators, thick walls, special window glazing and underfloor heating, but also other electronic devices such as baby monitors, can greatly interfere with signal reception. In many other cases, the WLAN is also not set up properly or isn’t suited for the size of the household.
Optimize WLAN yourself
That's why you should pay attention to a few important details when setting up your WLAN. For one: the range of a WLAN router is limited. With conventional routers, the wireless signal reaches 10 meters, at most 20 meters far. The further apart the Internet-enabled device is, the lower the performance of the signal that reaches it.
Apps like MeinMagenta can provide valuable services in selecting the right location for the WLAN router and setting up the wireless network. Thanks to various DSL help functions, the app can be used to easily and conveniently optimize the speed, range and stability of the WLAN network and prevent or overcome interferences. These include measuring Internet bandwidth using a speed test and a WLAN spread check, which is displayed in the form of a heat map on the smartphone or tablet. Our app also offers tips & tricks for improving the WiFi signal – for example by selecting the right WiFi channel. However, the following still applies to all options: The best solution for a stable network is LAN cabling.
Set up mesh WLAN
If you want reliable and fast Internet at home, you can also set up a so-called mesh WLAN. Whereas in a conventional wireless network the signal is only distributed within the home by a single device, the router, a mesh network uses several access points that are distributed throughout the entire household. The result is a WLAN network that offers extensive bandwidth coverage. This is particularly helpful when many different end devices are in use and high data transfer rates are required everywhere.
With our comprehensive, carefree service packages, we at Telekom offer professional help for setting up such mesh networks. Our new WLAN package plus includes two Speed Home WiFi that, thanks to mesh technology, ensure wireless LAN coverage throughout the entire home. In addition, our technical experts provide telephone and remote support in setting up and optimizing WLANs. They give advice on the ideal location for the Speed Home WiFi, help with the connection and thus guarantee the best possible signal reception for our customers. Should the telephone consultation not suffice, we will gladly send a WLAN expert to your home. On top of that, there's a 90-day money-back guarantee. This is what we understand by impeccable service.
By the way, this new, comprehensive range of services complements our basic WLAN package. It consists of a Speed Home WiFi and telephone support for setting up and optimizing the WLAN. The technical prerequisite here is a mesh-capable router or a second Speed Home WiFi, which then serves as the base station for the mesh network. Our WLAN promise also applies to this package: If customers are not satisfied with the stability of the wireless network in the first three months, they will get their money back – We promise. Why are we doing this? Because we are absolutely convinced of the quality of our service offering.
Topic further gains in importance
To sum up: everything that can be connected will be connected. This increases the complexity of home networking. We at Telekom are trying to reduce this complexity with our service offerings – to ensure that as many people as possible can be part of the trend towards a connected home. Regardless of whether the home residents set up their wireless network themselves or optimize it with the help of our experts, a stable and powerful WLAN forms the backbone for a reliable connection of terminal devices. Everyone should be aware of this fact. And since smart applications – and thus the demands for home networks – will continue to grow in the future, the topic will further gain in importance.
Deutsche Telekom's top management on current topics.