Consumers more dependent on Wi-Fi than smartphones

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Wi-Fi routers are the number one device users cannot live without for more than a day, according to a US study.

Managed services provider iQor found that 64 per cent of the surveyed US adults said they couldn’t go without Wi-Fi for a day, placing it ahead of the smartphone.

iQor employs 45,000 people worldwide and provides integrated support ecosystems for companies for data analytics, customer support and more. It cited wireless routers’ sheer importance for all things internet as the reason for it taking top spot. Routers are the first port of call for browsing the internet, setting up home entertainment, enabling virtual assistants such as Google Home, enabling some home security systems and more.

iQor COO Autumn Braswell said the results were somewhat surprising, and a nod to the ‘internet of things’.

“The fact that the Wi-Fi-connected smart home is the most important technology consumers don’t want to be without – over the smart phone – is a shift that technology experts and brands must understand… because this is a relatively new market and consumer adoption is not yet mainstream,” she said.

The Internet or Things or ‘IoT’ is still in its infancy and has had a slow uptake in Australia, where devices such as Google Home are just starting to rise in popularity.

“There is no clear brand owning the connected home customer experience. We believe that whoever can help consumers fully realise the potential of the connected home reality… will emerge as the brand leader five years from now,” Ms Braswell said.

However, devices such as Google Home, Apple’s HomePod and Amazon’s Alexa are not without their flaws. On introduction in 2017, Google Home copped controversy for not being able to understand the Australian accent. Amazon Alexa has also been met with backlash after allegedly ‘spying’ on its users, sharing home user data to Amazon servers. Google Home and Apple Homepod operate in a similar fashion.

What’s wrong with the Internet of Things?

The main concern with IoT is security, according to iQor. In the company’s ‘CPX 360’ study, it found that 79 per cent of baby boomers are fearful of hackers breaching a ‘smart connected device’ in the home.

Privacy was also a huge concern, with 58 per cent of all adults surveyed concerned about a lack of privacy from device manufacturers. Concerns surrounded data collection, monitoring real-time conversations, voice patterns and search history.

“Consumer concerns about data privacy and security, including both the unauthorised hacking of devices and the theft of device data, consistently rank as one of the leading concerns regarding connecting devices to the internet,” said Brad Russell, Research Director for Connected Home, Parks Associates.

“Companies are working to adopt best practices for IoT data security and management to allay concerns and deliver peace of mind, including more stringent efforts to secure the home network by deep inspection of incoming and outgoing traffic, and monitoring of edge devices to alert for anomalous behaviour,” Mr Russell said.

As home IoT ‘spider’s web’ grows increasingly complex, users have increased concerns about device failure, according to the survey. Over half of respondents feared that if one device fails, it will cause a ‘cascade’ effect, causing other devices to fall.

The CPX 360 study also found that 90 per cent of households have a smartphone, 42 per cent have a smart TV, nearly a quarter have a health wearable such as FitBit and 16 per cent have a home assistant such as Google Home.

By 2020, ‘smart’ device numbers are expected to reach 20.4bn globally, doubling from 11.1bn in 2018, and it all starts with the home Wi-Fi router.

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