Marina Andrejchenko -

Post-Covid home Wi-Fi consumer needs, expectations fundamentally altered

Study finds remote workers encounter significantly more home Wi-Fi issues than before the pandemic, with most reporting daily issues with their home wireless networks

A study from managed Wi-Fi solutions provider AirTies has shown that even as many countries begin opening up more from the pandemic, reliance on home Wi-Fi has changed for ever, with fundamental issues apparent in quality of experiences.

AirTies sees the new normal of work as a world in which connectivity has reached an inflection point where home Wi-Fi is as vital as electricity for sustaining a way of life to stay productive, informed, entertained and connected.

“During this unprecedented time, people have come to rely on, and value, their home Wi-Fi more than ever,” said AirTies CEO Philippe Alcaras, commenting on the Consumer expectations for home Wi-Fi study. “Trends like the ‘enterprisation’ of the home, remote learning and telemedicine are here to stay, and with that comes significant opportunities and challenges for broadband operators around the globe.”

To see how the pandemic has changed consumers’ expectations for home Wi-Fi, the survey took the opinions of 1,525 people in the US, the UK and Germany who have had to either work or learn from home over the past year.

As many as 90% said they are using their home Wi-Fi more than ever, with almost half of Americans (48%) using their Wi-Fi for an additional seven to 10 hours a day, compared with 21% of Germans and 36% of UK respondents.

According to the survey, 85% of respondents said they value or rely on their home Wi-Fi more now than before the pandemic. Just under two-thirds (65%) were found to be using Wi-Fi in unusual places in their homes, such as garages, attics and patios, in a bid to seek out quieter places to work or study.

Perhaps as a result of this, 56% said they have areas in their home where Wi-Fi does not work well, which AirTies said demonstrated a significant market requirement for whole-home Wi-Fi systems. In all, 58% of respondents across the three countries said they encountered more home Wi-Fi issues than before the pandemic, and 55% said they had daily issues with their home Wi-Fi.

Even though 75% indicated that their broadband operator responded well during the pandemic, 63% said they called to complain about their Wi-Fi and 27% of those said their broadband operator had to organise a technician to visit to their home. Of those who did not call to complain, more than a quarter were what AirTies described as “silent sufferers” who said they would have liked to call their broadband operator to help fix their Wi-Fi issues, but did not because of the time and effort it would require.

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A disconcerting 49% of respondents said they considered switching broadband operators because of Wi-Fi issues during the pandemic.

Despite these troubling indicators, there were several positive findings in the report for broadband operators. AirTies revealed what could the making of business models for the new hybrid working mode. Almost two-fifths (39%) of respondents said they were reimbursed by their employer for new Wi-Fi gear they bought during the pandemic, and 32% said their broadband subscription was subsidised by their employer.

There was also a high level of interest for additional services, such as advanced security. Of those not already paying for it, 36% said they would be willing to pay extra for advanced security, and the remaining 64% expected it to be included as part of their broadband package.

In addition to the 80% who preferred broadband operators to include home Wi-Fi gear as part of their broadband service, 58% of consumers said they would consider upgrading to a faster tier of internet service if their broadband operator offered a premium Wi-Fi system that guaranteed both faster and consistent Wi-Fi in every room of their home.

Consumers also strongly preferred their broadband operator to take the lead in ensuring a quality Wi-Fi experience, with 80% saying they would rather their broadband subscription included home Wi-Fi networking gear instead of buying it themselves through retail. 

Of those who would consider upgrading, 70% said they would be willing to pay at least $5/€5/£5 extra for faster and consistent Wi-Fi in every room of their home. Notably, 86% expected the fastest internet package to come equipped with a whole-home Wi-Fi system that would guarantee coverage in every room.

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