Virtually speaking: Smart architectures for smart home gateways

September 28, 2017 //By Simon Forrest, Director of Segment Marketing, Imagination
We’re at the dawn of a new technological revolution: an era where billions of hitherto disparate and unrelated devices become connected and able to share information. Of course, we all recognise this as the onset of the “Internet of Things”, which promises to make everyone’s lives simpler and easier.

However, the plethora of IoT devices now being introduced to our homes already looks to be unsustainable. This is creating a formidable challenge for operators and service providers wishing to manage and deploy IoT services, with additional hardware necessary to support an array of differing communication mechanisms.

In this article I will discuss the impact of IoT on the home gateway and consider how a new approach using virtualization not only helps solve those challenges but also enables all companies in the delivery chain access to advanced gateway architectures that drive new business opportunity.

 

The challenge in the evolution of the smart home

Consider a typical home network topology today. Invariably there’s a home router or gateway as the central hub of the network, whose primary task is to manage connection to the broadband service. Almost certainly the gateway also creates one or more Wi-Fi networks for devices to access Internet services. This is sufficient for home multimedia products such as tablets, smart TVs, PCs and so on, and we’ll no doubt see a steady transition to 802.11ax as the new standard is rolled out, promising even faster data transfer.

But Wi-Fi is not the only radio standard. It is usually considered too heavyweight for smart home devices comprising sensors and controllers that do not require the high bandwidth that Wi-Fi offers. Likewise, it’s often unsuitable for products that demand connectivity over larger distances than Wi-Fi can typically cover via a single access point.

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