A new home design certification program will give the building industry the guidelines it needs to ensure the quality of Wi-Fi. This means long before a home gets smart, developers will consider wireless conditions during the design phase, and think about wiring enclosures later.
Very few provisions in building codes deal with the installation of internet cable. While code requirements for the placement of outlets exist, and installers know to avoid compromising the firewall, that’s about it. Building codes fail to address wireless internet in part because, until recently, broadband was added to a home after it was built. Also, building codes tend to focus on safety and energy efficiency rather than the quality of service.
Why the Wi-Fi Alliance
The Wi-Fi Alliance, established in 1999, is a non-profit organization with the goal of improving and promoting Wi-Fi technology. Members include all of usual tech suspects: Cisco, Apple, Microsoft, Google as well as telecommunications companies like Verizon, Comcast, Telus, Shaw, Rogers, and the list goes on.
Certifying hundreds of Wi-Fi products, the alliance has a thorough understanding of service challenges and market needs. Taking on the certification of the framework that supports Wi-Fi is a logical next step.
How the Program Works
The goals of a Wi-Fi Certified home design are to ensure that the network:
• Provides whole home coverage with no dead or weak spots.
• Provides high-quality coverage. This means using Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ equipment that can handle high bandwidth services such as HD Video.
• Provides long lasting service. Certified designs will need to take into account the future growth in home technology
Program guidelines list the best locations for wireless access points so that there are no dead spots in the home. For example, for a two-story home with a backyard, the design will call for an access point on each floor at different ends of the home as well as a third access point outside the home to provide Wi-Fi to the yard.
Each design will need to map the Wi-Fi signal and factor in materials that might affect connectivity. Access points and other pre-installed components will need to be Wi-Fi Alliance-certified as well.
Housing professionals, internet service providers (ISPs), smart home product manufacturers all stand to gain from this program. For housing professionals, certification from an outside third party adds value to the home. A house buyer looking at two similar properties will likely opt for the one with guaranteed whole home coverage.
Certified homes will be able to fully utilize high bandwidth packages, which means ISPs may have higher customer satisfaction in certified homes, and they may see an increase in sales of top-tier services.
With whole home coverage and a network designed to handle high bandwidth use, home owners will be more likely to invest in new smart home products, which is good news for manufacturers.
Consumers will know that they can use all of their connected gadgets and tools anywhere in their home or yard when they buy a certified home.
One of the largest home builders in the U.S., Lennar, launched the first Wi-Fi certified homes in July. The homes are part of a new community in Bothell, Washington, called North Creek Ridge. The homes include a smart home hub from Samsung and voice control using Amazon Alexa.
Buyers of these homes will be able to control their lights, thermostat, and front door locks.
It seems that one day, Wi-Fi certification may have the same weight and brand recognition as the Energy Star certification program.