Introducing the concept “Total Addressable Bandwidth” or TAB.
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The concept of bandwidth is a reoccurring theme here on my blog. I’ve talked about the increased need for home bandwidth and the total bandwidth on the Internet. The more I think about bandwidth and match that to what is possible the more I wonder.

Many years ago I was really into home automation. I wanted to be able to shut my garage door while I was away from the house. So I invested the time and effort into installing an X-10 system in my house. It was a fun learning and discovery project.

  • There is only so much distance you can have between a sensor and a receiver
  • What the senor is doing often requires adjustment (or at least it did in the x-10 world).

The reality of that first automation project was first off I was learning as I was doing the project. That isn’t always a good thing. Secondly I was using the low end of the market rather than considering the best overall solution.

Today I run a Control 4 system that was professionally installed in my house. I don’t have the same issues with bandwidth (I did but the team that did the installation worked with me on the bandwidth issues). Between the Control 4 host and the various sensors there is a protocol (and separate airwave) they use call Zigbe. That separation first off frees up the chatter of sensors on my w-fi. We did install control panels in the house and they are connected via wi-fi sot here is still a little bandwidth lost but overall its managed.

In the end using that separate protocol is critical. Why? Because where once my home had 10 wi-fi devices on at times, there are now 30 devices on virtually all the waking hours of the day. Plus now many devices wake up when you are asleep for the express purpose of looking for updates.

Malcolm Gladwell wrote the exceptional book about when a production or idea reaches “The Tipping Point.” It is a good thing when the next great thing reaches that magical moment of suddenly having mass appeal. There is however something to continue worrying about here. The negative tipping point of too much. When do we reach the saturated bandwidth point of tipping?

Personally I know the tipping point for bandwidth is nearer now than it was, but it is ultimately just out of reach. That’s a good thing in the end. The number of home network perimeter devices is growing. Smart devices that control both the internal and external flow of information in your home. Over time those could become useful routers to build and control the total available bandwidth in your home (TAB).

Moving from the just add devices to TAB will be a slow process. But in so doing the home network won’t suffer the tipping point of bandwidth collapse.  We may still have a TAB issue for the Internet overall. The speed of light is a limit rather than a guideline (like the 55 mph signs often are on 495 and 270 in DC as the car blows past you at 80 mph or creeps along with you at 5 mph).

Introducing the concept of TAB is the first step. Getting it into everyone’s homes is the next step. Eventually home TAB devices that offer QOS (quality of service) will be prevalent and will over time cache and control the data in and leaving/entering our homes better. Tipping point hopefully avoided!


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow!