Want great Wi-Fi in every room your home? If you’re like most of us, your answer can only be a resounding yes. But thus far getting in-home Wi-Fi quality right has been an engineering problem well beyond the average consumer’s skill set. Finally a group of companies – most of them startups – is getting down to the business of fixing bad Wi-Fi.
Going to market with an plug-and-play fix to this nagging pain-point is no small consumer electronics opportunity in the making. In fact, it’s huge.
There are 350 million households in the US and Europe combined. Add to this Asia and the rest of the world and the writing is on the wall: Whomever wins a decent slice of this emerging market for progressive in-home Wi-Fi could be the next multi-billion-dollar Wi-Fi company. Here’s a roundup of some of the most promising contenders:
Want to mesh? Meet eero
Topping the list is the California-based startup with the Finnish name eero. Eero could be the best funded Wi-Fi startup ever. Last month the company raised another 50 million dollars ‘to fix your crappy Wi-Fi’ (as Forbes put it) bringing their vc funding total to a whopping 90 million dollars. Product reviews have been largely outstanding.
Eero ships as three nicely designed identical white units that – after about 15 minutes of setup with an app – form a mesh network. The end result is something akin to next-to-the-router performance all around the house. At $499 for the three-piece starter pack eero is still a little pricy for most consumers.
‘Surround Wi-Fi’ from Luma
Another contender is Luma, which is conceptually similar to eero although the Luma device has not yet shipped. In addition to the mesh approach and a compact router similar in size, the company touts a long list of snazzy features including swipe to grant guest access, various degrees of parental control, and advanced security. Luma’s 3-unit starter pack pre-orders at $299, $200 below eero.
A Portal to higher speeds and better coverage
Luma looks about as slick as eero and both are likely great products, but neither appears to have invented anything that doesn’t already exist in enterprise Wi-Fi. That honour goes to Ignition Design Labs’ Portal.
Portal has also not yet been released (they’re raising money on Kickstarter) but the company is doing something that mostly everyone else thus far has shunned: The unit uses seven – yes, seven – Wi-Fi operating bands including a couple needing DFS.
That’s the first reason why Portal claims up to three times higher capacity. The second reasons is this: The company is applying sophisticated Cloud-based radio resource management and the unit hides ten radios and nine antennas under its shiny little hood. The Portal website says that mesh networking will be included in a later release.
If all of this works out Portal will not only be an effective fix to the in-home coverage problem but it will also be serving up an impressive hike in throughput and – possibly – quality, too.