Fast, reliable WiFi is the backbone of the connected home. It ensures our households run smoothly, from facilitating the use of our IP delivered Video services, to enabling the many connected devices our customers have in their homes.
It powers security systems, tablets, phones, music systems, and voice assistants as well as supporting the more “human” activities of entertaining, inspiring and connecting the family. As such, it’s imperative that the home WiFi works well, at all times and without interruption.
That’s why we created the WiFi warehouse – a state-of-the-art testing facility designed to ensure our products and services are as good as they possibly can be in powering the connected home.
As the name suggests this is, at least externally, an actual warehouse. Inside we’ve built two large units, that allow us to replicate the conditions that exist in the many types of homes that our customers live in across our European footprint. These units replicate our customers’ homes in terms of wall, floor, ceiling, door fabrication, electrical circuitry etc – everything you would expect in a normal home.
They also replicate the conditions that arise where many customers are located in close proximity to each other with many sources of interference, devices and WiFi access point competing in the same finite WiFi spectrum. Importantly, the units are fully protected from any signal sources that aren’t known and controllable and could otherwise disrupt the validity of the large number of range, performance, stability, and interoperability related tests.
This environment enables us to carry out testing of our products and services in a way that closely resembles how customers would use WiFi-connected products in the home. It allows us to examine the proper functioning and performance of WiFi on our Connectivity Gateways such as the Connect box and Connect boosters, along with our set-top boxes and other third-party devices.
We place the cable modems and set-top boxes in various positions around the “home” and we replicate hundreds of tests to validate their functioning and performance. We test these both on their own and with the devices our customers would typically use them with, such as an iPhone, a Smart TV, an android phone or a tablet.
The great thing about this is that we are able to carry out rigorous testing in a controlled, repeatable environment, making minute changes and looking closely at performance as we integrate new technology into our products as part of new Entertainment and Connectivity related software releases and hardware developments. This means we are able to validate the quality and stability of our products (including interoperability) and improve their performance before they are launched into customers’ homes. The net result should be much more reliable products and services and a contribution to happier customers, better Product NPS and a reduction in both churn and care-related operational expenses for our markets.
Over the last 18 months, we’ve been incredibly busy with a number of high-profile launches that the warehouse has been central to. This includes the rollout of Intelligent WiFi in Virgin Media and similar campaigns in other markets where we have added features that automatically and dynamically control the WiFi to optimise our customers’ experience. We’ve seen a measurable improvement in the average WiFi performance where we have deployed these features.
The WiFi warehouse is a key quality validation step in the development and release of these products and services. It’s had a significant impact on our cost base through its ability to improve and control the quality of our products, which positively impacts our customers’ experience and our ability to attract new ones.
We believe this testing facility is a world-first and has not yet been replicated anywhere else. Much of what makes it so unique – the materials sourced, and how they’re used – were all developed internally by the Liberty Global team.
Delighting our customers is at the heart of the WiFi warehouse and the reason it exists. Thanks to the ingenuity and determination of our team of great engineers that had this vision, we will continue to build the knowledge that keeps us ahead of our competitors.