Bart Giordano, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Sales, Ruckus Networks.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Ruckus had a ‘State of Wi-Fi’ study last year that mentioned low IoT deployments in organizations. Have you seen any changes in the IoT landscape since?

So IoT has been this big promise for a long time. Some of the challenges have been the fragmentation in the IoT ecosystem. There’re lots of different wireless technologies that have emerged as IoT transports.

In the mind of somebody who’s trying to adopt IoT, you have to go through that thought process of what technology do I adopt? If I make this investment today, is that going to be the preferred technology five years down the road?

The foundation of any IoT infrastructure, or smart city is robust connectivity, so that starts with building out a robust fiber network. Singapore has, basically, fiber everywhere now. The next step is to build out that access layer of wireless technologies that will allow citizens to get on the network. So now that your citizens can get online, you can start digitizing services.

If there’s anything that’s been holding back the IoT deployments of smart cities outside Singapore, is that all this infrastructure is very expensive. So that’s kind of the journey cities have been on over the last several years.

When you go down from cities into buildings, do you think the same process take place?

I do. The first phase of investment is to build a robust Wi-Fi network. Once you’ve spent money on that, then you might be considering how to bring your door locks online, how to put sensors in the building so that you can automate occupancy tasks like turning the lights, or the air conditioning off and on. Then you have to go through that thought process: Is it Zigbee? Is it BLE? Is it Sigfox or LoRa or NB-IoT? And is that technology going to still be here (in the future)? What is the incremental cost?

What part does Ruckus play in all of this?

What Ruckus has done is really focused on how we convert these networks. So if you deploy Ruckus Wi-Fi in a property today, you can upgrade that with a very simple add-on module and a piece of software via the Ruckus IoT suite to add online door locks for Zigbee or temperature sensors.

What about the average consumer home?

I think in the home, it’s a different decision tree in terms of deciding how to adopt the technology. Consumers are all about their own personal user experience. So those same thoughts around efficiency do come into it, but at the end of the day, there’s (more of) a kind of wow factor of having this digital assistant that you can tell to turn on your lights and ask for other things.

Doesn’t that make IoT an even dirtier word in the home because IoT devices may not benefit the consumer at all?

I think where we’re seeing the most success is when somebody curates that whole IoT experience on behalf of the owner. For example, one of the largest homebuilders in the United States is Lennar Homes; and Ruckus has a relationship with Lennar. They build a very robust connectivity infrastructure into a new home, and then build an ecosystem of devices and solutions that have been pre-tested and delivered to the new homeowner in a way that you get immediate value out of it.

They’ve already done all the work to ensure that these devices work together; that you’ve got the right connectivity infrastructure to support the number of devices and the types of devices from security cameras, to connected garage door openers, connected appliances, and of course, really great wireless experience to bring all this together.

I see this happening in Singapore too with new condominiums…

That’s another trend we’re seeing. We call it MDU or Multi Dwelling Units. It used to be that service providers would go and sell to each individual subscriber in a high-density residential property. That model has totally fallen apart because all those devices and equipment were unmanaged, and their networks will then interfere with their neighbors network, and really result in a poor experience.

The trend today is for the service provider to put an enterprise network in this property. They will then sell an experience to the individual tenants, but that will be a very robust experience that supports all of the use cases around IoT, and video streaming and, other connectivity requirements in a coordinated fashion across the whole property.

And these networks won’t interfere with each other?

It’s called bulk managed Wi-Fi. So in a place like Singapore, where you have a lot of high density housing, you’re going to see this trend proliferate.

“Wi-Fi has historically been for connecting users, but we’re increasingly connecting things, things beyond printers and media devices. It’s now the Internet of Things.”

Photos Darren Chang