Control & Automation

In Defense of Lennar’s Wi-Fi Smart Home Strategy: ‘Wireless is the Future’

Most home-tech experts applaud Lennar’s ‘Wi-Fi Certified’ program, but not the builder’s mostly-wireless approach to the smart home. Still, some pros defend the homebuilder for being ‘progressive thinkers.’

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10 Comments
Posted by Joe Schmelzer on July 10, 2017

Really interesting developments. I work in the wireless industry and generally endorse any movement toward making things ‘more wireless’. However, may be worth noting here that, due to the massive amounts of data being projected to be consumed, infrastructure in the business world is generally moving to MORE WIRED CAPACITY, not less. Fiber infrastructure.

If one really looks into this situation in the home, removing/reducing the wired infrastructure probably isn’t a great idea. Better coverage, combined with (important to note:) higher throughtputs, is going to require more access points. It’s the physics of radio propagation. Those access points need to be connected with WIRED infrastructure. The Ruckus APs are powered over Ethernet (PoE)... Think about the implications of that…

Big data consumers are going to want BETTER infrastructure in their homes. Removing the cabling does not achieve that.

Posted by Julie Jacobson on July 10, 2017

That’s pretty much the sentiment here, Joe. Thanks for your comments.

Posted by paul greatreps.com on July 10, 2017

Looks like a follow the money type of thing. Lennar has to be concerned about adding cost to their homes and a wi-fi router is less costly than copper wire and the labor it takes to install it. It can also be easily sold to consumers as “future technology.”

Posted by Julie Jacobson on July 10, 2017

Yes, Paul, clearly a great marketing move. The Ruckus stuff is top notch and should do a great job for many years. Bound to generate word of mouth, too, as home will be move-in ready for wireless. Figure the retail price of gear - one switch, two access points—is probably $1700 or so. At wholeseale, probably the equivalent of 4-6 cable runs, builder cost. Which will give consumers more value today? Usable Wi-Fi. In a few years?
Resale value won’t really matter to Lennar.

Posted by SpivR on July 11, 2017

I disagree with going (mostly) wireless.  There are some very special dynamics here that differ from the usual consumer/technology adoption curve.

First - Running wires and coax conventionally is really very inexpensive.  Given that the average house sells for $300,000 or more and in some areas (like here in Silicon Valley) “starter” new homes can easily cost upwards of $1M plus, I just buy the argument that the cost savings to the builder is enough to justify this really short-sighted plan.

Second - Unless every other consumer purchase, a house is built to last for many years.  50 to 100 years is not unreasonable.  Technology fads come and go, but the electrical wires and plumbing in a 100-year old house still work.

Third - It is incredibly easy/efficient to wire a house that has no walls and full access to every location.  There will never be this opportunity once the house is built.  If there is a need to run wires, the homeowner is facing a huge expense to fish wires and possibly re-plaster and paint to cover up the access holes and physical destruction needed to reach everywhere.

Fourth - wireless is a unique beast.  It is not fully under control of the builder or the owner.  A perfectly tuned, tested, and deployed wireless network can turn to crap if a neighbor’s newly installed wireless network or other ISM band devices, suddenly show up and destroy that previously perfectly tuned “WiFi certified house.  That doesn’t happen with wires.  Once installed, if not disturbed, they work and continue to work.

Posted by Audioplus on July 11, 2017

Sure don’t think it’s much of an expenditure or labor intensive issue to run a CAT6 to main A/V location, a bedroom/office, and a kitchen location to future proof? Even electrican’s can do that?

Posted by tgundo2003 on July 11, 2017

Good wireless is very important, but making the blanket statement that its the future and the future is now so ditch all hard wiring is plain silly. Come spend some time in the trenches with us fixing the issues caused by over-promised Wi-Fi expectations and see what you really think about going all wireless. We don’t have enough spectrum as it is, and we continue to bank on loading it down more….can’t make more wireless spectrum.

Posted by jbrown on July 11, 2017

Wire is absolutely the more reliable solution. I am pretty sure no one in their right mind will deny that. The problem is that wires have speed limits. When a new standard comes out, you need a new wire. Sure there are typically band-aids, but eventually the wire will be obsolete. If it’s installed in a wall, it can be VERY expensive to replace (hooray for conduit)

Wireless has no speed limit (theoretically). You just buy new devices. Sure there is a “limit” to the data that one 5GHz stream can deliver, but the number of streams is only limited by our imagination (and currently the FCC). But that can change. Who knows, maybe 802.11pdq will come out and it will support a bazillion streams at a trillion gigahertz each. As long as both devices can communicate, then you’re good to go.

BUT THAT DOESN’T EXIST YET. Basically Lennar is saying “soon front doors will be made of spider silk pantyhose and will be indestructible, so we’re giving you a door made out of regular pantyhose right now, and we’re also going to exclude the ability to install a regular door if you want one, because you’ll just have to throw it away in 5-10 years.” Sounds stupid, right?

A 4K Roku player needs 30-50Mbps of bandwidth to play 4K movies. 802.11g could do that as long as there was only one wireless device. The issue is client density, not speed. A basic wired network switch is WAY better than a wireless access point at sharing bandwidth because any two devices that need to talk to each other can do so directly. A 24-port switch is mathematically capable of 24Gbps (24,000Mbps) of throughput. 24 devices connected to a state of the art $1,000.00+ Ruckus or Xirrus access point would be lucky to have 250-300Mbps to share among themselves (as long as each device was within 20’ of the WAP). Worst case for the wired switch is it is limited by a 1000Mbps uplink for whichever devices need to communicate with something not connected to the same switch.

Xirrus Miercom Test Report
http://wvw.xirrus.com/l/66982/2015-08-11/348g1t/66982/45998/Miercom_Report_Xirrus_19Dec2014.pdf

Ruckus Carnet Test Report
http://marketing.ruckuswireless.com/acton/attachment/3040/u-006f/0/-/-/-/-/?_ga=2.134901361.1049255798.1499719971-768016432.1498665869

And we haven’t even talked about interference yet. Bluetooth, microwave ovens, wireless subwoofers, RC cars, and wireless game controllers all operate in the same space as Wi-Fi. The wired switch is unaffected by any of that.

There are far more layers to this onion than I have time to peel, but count me on the side of “Lennar is making a mistake”.

Posted by jguagliardo on July 16, 2017

We spent more money debating this than it would cost to buy and install wire. Put in both, make your money and move on.

Posted by Larry LewisAV on July 16, 2017

Sure having a WiFi Certified Home gives you a selling point to today’s buyers. However, WiFi is for mobile devices, not for Network Appliances. That includes AV gear. They are not taking into consideration all connected devices. They are only focusing on phones, tablets & laptops. Napoli speaks as though having a WiFi Certified home makes up for a manufacturer putting an unreliable wireless NIC in their TV or Blu-ray player. Entry level homes need a network backbone just as a high-end home does. If you want the network to perform optimally and efficiently. I can’t believe Napoli says running a 2x2 to any location is like “...hoping the analog console comes back in style…”. That statement is totally absurd. All things, today, running over either of those cables is digital. Neither of which are compatible with a console television. A fully wireless IoT may be the future, however, that future isn’t now. Even with Ruckus APs. Then again, let’s see what kind of traction & performance Blackfire RED will have.

10 Comments
Posted by Larry LewisAV on July 16, 2017

Sure having a WiFi Certified Home gives you a selling point to today’s buyers. However, WiFi is for mobile devices, not for Network Appliances. That includes AV gear. They are not taking into consideration all connected devices. They are only focusing on phones, tablets & laptops. Napoli speaks as though having a WiFi Certified home makes up for a manufacturer putting an unreliable wireless NIC in their TV or Blu-ray player. Entry level homes need a network backbone just as a high-end home does. If you want the network to perform optimally and efficiently. I can’t believe Napoli says running a 2x2 to any location is like “...hoping the analog console comes back in style…”. That statement is totally absurd. All things, today, running over either of those cables is digital. Neither of which are compatible with a console television. A fully wireless IoT may be the future, however, that future isn’t now. Even with Ruckus APs. Then again, let’s see what kind of traction & performance Blackfire RED will have.

Posted by jguagliardo on July 16, 2017

We spent more money debating this than it would cost to buy and install wire. Put in both, make your money and move on.

Posted by jbrown on July 11, 2017

Wire is absolutely the more reliable solution. I am pretty sure no one in their right mind will deny that. The problem is that wires have speed limits. When a new standard comes out, you need a new wire. Sure there are typically band-aids, but eventually the wire will be obsolete. If it’s installed in a wall, it can be VERY expensive to replace (hooray for conduit)

Wireless has no speed limit (theoretically). You just buy new devices. Sure there is a “limit” to the data that one 5GHz stream can deliver, but the number of streams is only limited by our imagination (and currently the FCC). But that can change. Who knows, maybe 802.11pdq will come out and it will support a bazillion streams at a trillion gigahertz each. As long as both devices can communicate, then you’re good to go.

BUT THAT DOESN’T EXIST YET. Basically Lennar is saying “soon front doors will be made of spider silk pantyhose and will be indestructible, so we’re giving you a door made out of regular pantyhose right now, and we’re also going to exclude the ability to install a regular door if you want one, because you’ll just have to throw it away in 5-10 years.” Sounds stupid, right?

A 4K Roku player needs 30-50Mbps of bandwidth to play 4K movies. 802.11g could do that as long as there was only one wireless device. The issue is client density, not speed. A basic wired network switch is WAY better than a wireless access point at sharing bandwidth because any two devices that need to talk to each other can do so directly. A 24-port switch is mathematically capable of 24Gbps (24,000Mbps) of throughput. 24 devices connected to a state of the art $1,000.00+ Ruckus or Xirrus access point would be lucky to have 250-300Mbps to share among themselves (as long as each device was within 20’ of the WAP). Worst case for the wired switch is it is limited by a 1000Mbps uplink for whichever devices need to communicate with something not connected to the same switch.

Xirrus Miercom Test Report
http://wvw.xirrus.com/l/66982/2015-08-11/348g1t/66982/45998/Miercom_Report_Xirrus_19Dec2014.pdf

Ruckus Carnet Test Report
http://marketing.ruckuswireless.com/acton/attachment/3040/u-006f/0/-/-/-/-/?_ga=2.134901361.1049255798.1499719971-768016432.1498665869

And we haven’t even talked about interference yet. Bluetooth, microwave ovens, wireless subwoofers, RC cars, and wireless game controllers all operate in the same space as Wi-Fi. The wired switch is unaffected by any of that.

There are far more layers to this onion than I have time to peel, but count me on the side of “Lennar is making a mistake”.

Posted by tgundo2003 on July 11, 2017

Good wireless is very important, but making the blanket statement that its the future and the future is now so ditch all hard wiring is plain silly. Come spend some time in the trenches with us fixing the issues caused by over-promised Wi-Fi expectations and see what you really think about going all wireless. We don’t have enough spectrum as it is, and we continue to bank on loading it down more….can’t make more wireless spectrum.

Posted by Audioplus on July 11, 2017

Sure don’t think it’s much of an expenditure or labor intensive issue to run a CAT6 to main A/V location, a bedroom/office, and a kitchen location to future proof? Even electrican’s can do that?

Posted by SpivR on July 11, 2017

I disagree with going (mostly) wireless.  There are some very special dynamics here that differ from the usual consumer/technology adoption curve.

First - Running wires and coax conventionally is really very inexpensive.  Given that the average house sells for $300,000 or more and in some areas (like here in Silicon Valley) “starter” new homes can easily cost upwards of $1M plus, I just buy the argument that the cost savings to the builder is enough to justify this really short-sighted plan.

Second - Unless every other consumer purchase, a house is built to last for many years.  50 to 100 years is not unreasonable.  Technology fads come and go, but the electrical wires and plumbing in a 100-year old house still work.

Third - It is incredibly easy/efficient to wire a house that has no walls and full access to every location.  There will never be this opportunity once the house is built.  If there is a need to run wires, the homeowner is facing a huge expense to fish wires and possibly re-plaster and paint to cover up the access holes and physical destruction needed to reach everywhere.

Fourth - wireless is a unique beast.  It is not fully under control of the builder or the owner.  A perfectly tuned, tested, and deployed wireless network can turn to crap if a neighbor’s newly installed wireless network or other ISM band devices, suddenly show up and destroy that previously perfectly tuned “WiFi certified house.  That doesn’t happen with wires.  Once installed, if not disturbed, they work and continue to work.

Posted by Julie Jacobson on July 10, 2017

Yes, Paul, clearly a great marketing move. The Ruckus stuff is top notch and should do a great job for many years. Bound to generate word of mouth, too, as home will be move-in ready for wireless. Figure the retail price of gear - one switch, two access points—is probably $1700 or so. At wholeseale, probably the equivalent of 4-6 cable runs, builder cost. Which will give consumers more value today? Usable Wi-Fi. In a few years?
Resale value won’t really matter to Lennar.

Posted by paul greatreps.com on July 10, 2017

Looks like a follow the money type of thing. Lennar has to be concerned about adding cost to their homes and a wi-fi router is less costly than copper wire and the labor it takes to install it. It can also be easily sold to consumers as “future technology.”

Posted by Julie Jacobson on July 10, 2017

That’s pretty much the sentiment here, Joe. Thanks for your comments.

Posted by Joe Schmelzer on July 10, 2017

Really interesting developments. I work in the wireless industry and generally endorse any movement toward making things ‘more wireless’. However, may be worth noting here that, due to the massive amounts of data being projected to be consumed, infrastructure in the business world is generally moving to MORE WIRED CAPACITY, not less. Fiber infrastructure.

If one really looks into this situation in the home, removing/reducing the wired infrastructure probably isn’t a great idea. Better coverage, combined with (important to note:) higher throughtputs, is going to require more access points. It’s the physics of radio propagation. Those access points need to be connected with WIRED infrastructure. The Ruckus APs are powered over Ethernet (PoE)... Think about the implications of that…

Big data consumers are going to want BETTER infrastructure in their homes. Removing the cabling does not achieve that.