Velop, a Whole Home Wi-Fi product from Linkys, is anticipated to be a significant milestone for the consumer networking leader.
Linksys is unveiling Velop, a Whole Home Wi-Fi product in the Middle East this month and this is anticipated to be a significant milestone for the consumer networking leader.
Velop, a Tri-Band modular Wi-Fi system that can be installed in various mesh configurations providing fast and reliable Wi-Fi to the edge of a home network, was unveiled first at CES this year. Each Velop “node” is a powerful Tri-Band AC2200 device that serves as router, range extender, access point, and bridge and as part of a single Mesh network promises to enhance connectivity for home users who are constrained by limitations of current network technologies.
Amanulla Khan, Managing Director, Linksys, Middle East, Turkey & Africa opines that says that while it is an era of connected devices, consumers haven’t invested in best network performances. He believes that Velop offers consumers a great opportunity to enhance their connected experience
He says, “Today, everyone’s aware that there is an explosion of connected devices. We have been hearing of this, mostly as part of boardroom level discussions but increasingly moving into SMB and consumer level as well. It is in fact a living room discussion. Everyone wants to stay connected and more importantly, they have a stake in it. People do not still understand that while they may have the best of devices and highest bandwidth subscription you can afford, they do still need a great wireless network at home to enable all of these experiences. That is where the focus has to be and the message has to go out.”
He adds that on an average, a consumer maybe spending about 6000 AED on an average towards broadband subscription. Consumers maybe spending a similar amount on connected devices within a family within that time frame. In a three year time frame, they may be probably spending as much as 30,000 AED on connected devices and broadband subscription. However, they may not be willing to spend 2000 AED on a network that will enable all of those experiences with the devices and the network, which therefore needs a change of mindset.
Velop is expected to solve those limitations which come with the Router and range extenders or dual-band modular mesh systems, where the Wi-Fi speed is cut in half with each “hop” from one access point to the next. This is the next level of a seamless WiFi experience envisioned by Linksys.
Amanulla says, “With the smart devices coming in, people started asking for WiFi connectivity coverage as they started moving away from the living room, to the balconies, terraces, bedrooms, gardens etc. that is when Range extenders came in that gave coverage. However, they had limitations. Over time, consumer habits evolved including multiple streaming of high definition videos on multiple devices at the same time. They started demanding for better WiFi experience. However, existing router and range extender combinations had limitations as they may extend the range but they didn’t envelop your home, resulting in many dead spots. It doesn’t give a seamless network experience because there are multiple networks with multiple SSIDs; you need to have different usernames and password to connect.”
Further, he adds that there is the sticky client issue because your device connects to the first proximity network; at homes this could be the router network in the living room but as you move away, into the bedroom for instance, you want to connect to the range extender network but you device is still connected to the original network that is still giving off a weak signal. So your device stays connected to the weak network unless the signal is lost and then gets connected to the range extender network.
Bottleneck effect, real time interruptions, channel interference are among the challenges.
Amanulla opines, “So your network speed could be 100 mbps- network from router- you get 80-90 mbps. The moment your range extended gets connected, it drops your network by 50%. If you have a second range extender, then it drops further by 50%. This is an inherent bottleneck. Throughput drops by 50%. Real time interruption is another challenge because as the use moves away from the router network, the performance drops as the signal weakens and then finally breaks and then gets connected to the network from the range extender. In the time between these two events, there is a performance breakdown of connectivity. Channel interference is also an issue because of the multiple networks in use which reduces the WiFi connectivity. Finally, multiple products means need for multiple ways of managing all these devices.”
There is a shift in consumer expectations now as they want the WiFi experience to be reliable and seamless across their home.
“What we bring in today is a whole Home WiFi experience. It address each of these problems I have discussed in a current set-up. It gives you coverage; envelops your home with WiFI and gives you performance edge to edge. So if you have subscribed to 100 mbps, you will be getting exactly that in every nook and corner of your home and on every device and application you use.
According to Linksys, the Whole Home WiFi market is the category that is looking the brightest. Whole home WiFi is the next big thing in consumer networking market.
He says, “This is growing by 130 % or more. We believe this will be a 200 million USD opportunity by 2018. Every other category is declining or staying flat. Gateways are declining; Range extenders are more or less flat.”
Linksys is targeting connected families, typically with four members. According to the company’s perspective, connected families are typically heavy on network usage but not very tech savvy; they are not buying products or feature, rather are buying the experience. They however have more connected devices.
“They want ease of set-up; they don’t even want to face the hassle of remembering the passwords. A majority are using older wireless networks and may have not migrated even to wireless AC. These are people we are targeting. The connected family segment is a contrast to the prosumer segment who form about 10% of our customer base. The prosumers may own the ugliest of routers but they will tailor their performance according to their requirements. For connected families, WiFi is the second most important thing after food, according consumer research. They want seamless experience with WiFi. They want one network experience which reliable throughout the home,” says Amanulla.
They need a product whose look and feel which is sleek and good to flaunt. They want performance and reliability which is most important; they want ease of use with some good features at preferably no additional cost. Linksys believes they are responding to all these customer expectations with Velop.
“Our company DNA is consumer focus. We do a lot of consumer research and understanding the consumer pain point and then invest in a technology that addresses all those pain points. We have focused on reliability, seamless, ease of use and great design. Velop comes in a tower design that fits in smoothly into any home environment. It takes 88% les footprint than the average router. It has a groove which will manage the cables without them running around. The power adaptor also merges with the overall design,” says Amanulla.
He further elaborates that Velop brings intelligence and power. It is triband and one of the bands is dedicated for backhaul and has got dynamic frequency selection. Velop decides the best band your devices should get connected to at any given point within your network for enabling the best performance. The intelligence is built into the devices and take away the consumer’s hassle of having to decide. It has a built-in algorithm to decide that.
“Velop also decides the best path to connect to the network. It has a technology to help you decide where you need to install the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Velop nodes. All these nodes work as a single network; it is a mesh network. It also decides the best way of coming back to the internet, to complete the network.”
Velop is available in 3-pack, 2-pack and 1-pack options.
“You can start with one node as a standalone device. You need more nodes for a bigger home. An average home here may take up to three nodes. In a typical US environment, we have tested a node’s range for up to 2000 sq ft coverage; so with 3 nodes, you get 6000 sq.ft coverage in an ideal environment. We recommend upto 10 nodes in a single mesh network which gives you upto 20000 sq.ft coverage in an ideal environment,” says Amanulla.
The nodes have intelligence built in – If you terminate the service provider cable into a node, then the node configures itself as a router. If it connects behind a router, then it know it doesn’t need to configure in a router mode or you are trying to expand the network- so it expands your network. You will communicate with Velop via the Linksys app on Bluetooth. The Linksys app (formally known as the Linksys Smart Wi-Fi app) is completely redesigned and includes an innovative app-led setup process for Velop. The entire setup flow happens within the app and uses Bluetooth to securely communicate between the mobile device and the nodes.
One of the tribands is dedicated for backhaul which guarantees performance and two are for connecting your devices. It is also intelligent to go with a wired environment. If you use a cable to connect the node, then it will use the cable for backhaul and then you can use all three bands for your devices.
According to Amanullah, it is intelligent to decide the best network topology for a given environment- it can work in a star, tree, mesh, a daisy chain and a wired topology. Most mesh networks arguably can work only in star topology where there is a main unit while in most instance, the router in the home is not at the centre which is why you need a daisy chain.
Linksys is offering three years warranty and three years tech support with Velop. It has 3 step simple set-up process. It is integrated with Alexa voice support; today it has limited features but more are expected to be added soon.
Amanulla believes that the Velop Whole Home WiFi network family will help expand the home networking market as more consumers will feel the confidence to upgrade their network and take advantage of the technology.
He adds, “We believe there will a lot of new consumers coming on board with Velop. More people will be comfortable with replacing their old networks. While we have always fort to market with new technologies, this is revolutionary. We launched at CES and have already won a lot of awards. We have a rating of 4.8 stars for this product on Amazon.”