Mention the words ‘home networking’ and ‘routers’ in the same sentence and a good portion of non-tech inclined users switch off. This is a tendency that Cisco’s Ulrika Tegtmeier, the vice president for Cisco consumer products, freely admits.
However, at a presentation at Cisco’s offices in Bryanston, she asserted that the days of home networks being hidden in a closet where it can remain untouched, are coming to an end.
Instead, Tegtmeier explained, home networks and associated devices like routers can offer so much more. She elaborated that a connected home could take advantage of streaming music and video, wireless gaming, smart (connected) appliances and of course, watching video and browsing the web from anywhere in one’s home on a tablet. This, she enthused, would make one’s router and network the heart of one’s constantly connected home.
However, amid this otherwise rosy picture, certain obstacles need to addressed and overcome. Tegtmeier pointed out that even those who do have an internet enabled TV or some aspects of a connected home, often don’t realise that it is their router which is failing to provide them with the streaming experience they desire.
Complicating matters is that many users may be intimidated by or unfamiliar with setting up a home network, and even if they are, don’t know what router they require for their needs or which to choose. Additionally, Tegtmeier asserted that many users are simply not aware that all routers are not created equal, and thus they don’t know that they need a better router to provide for numerous wireless devices.
Ulrika Tegtmeier, vice president for Cisco consumer products
A simple plan
However, Cisco has a plan to address and challenge this otherwise disheartening picture, by launching a range of new Linksys routers that offer performance and simplicity. To this end, in autumn its new EA series of routers will become available.
These consist of the EA4500, which will offer a balance between speed and performance for the ultimate streaming experience, the EA 3500, aimed at providing premium performance for home entertainment, and the EA2700, which is touted as offering advanced performance for active households.
It’s simplicity and ease of use though that Cisco is particularly focused on though, as its new range of routers will include Cisco Connect software, which the company asserts will enable users to easily connect their router with three steps.
Additionally, this will be accompanied by the Cisco Connect Express app for iOS and Android devices, which will further enable users to access their router from their tablet or mobile device and the Smart Home app, which will enable users to view their network on their mobile device as well.
The company elaborated that one scenario where this could be useful is if a user wants to buy ink for their printer on their home network, but don’t know offhand which ink it requires. The app will enable them to view their network remotely from their smartphone and access information pertaining to the devices on their network when away from their home.
Office, meet lounge
Additionally, the relevance of the router and home network takes on new significance when considering that the boundaries between working at an office and working from home appear to be blurring. More interestingly though, the company elaborated that its research had indicated that people were increasingly favouring using their wireless devices, such as notebooks and tablets, in their living room or bedroom.
This though is often dependant on stable and strong wireless connectivity in every room of the house - a task that the once ‘boring’ and ‘staid’ router is responsible for.
To the point
If Cisco has its way, the launch of its new range of routers will herald the humble router finally receiving its due recognition – not as closet reject that no one wants to look at until they have to – but as centre stage star of the always-on, fully connected and smart home of the future.