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Wireless routers — a growing market expected to be worth billions by itself as consumers become more connected — are getting major upgrades from some start-ups.
In the effort to prevent the surge in data and device use from creating a nightmare of dead zones and overloaded networks, companies such as Eero and Luma are moving to get ahead of the curve by creating routers that can power multiple devices with ease.
More gadgets than ever — from lights to thermostats to cameras — rely on home routers to make them all work seamlessly. Yet some of these routers may not be up to the task, as multiple devices can easily overwhelm a network, or make it run sluggishly.
Enter Eero, a Wi-Fi maker that recently procured $50 million in funding by creating a mesh network using multiple access points. The system blankets a home and creates stronger, more reliable personal internet access.
Traditionally, "Wi-Fi connectivity was in such a bad state that people were often returning perfectly great products because they didn't quite work where the customer wanted to place them. It was a Wi-Fi problem," Nick Weaver, co-founder and CEO of Eero and a veteran of Menlo Ventures, told CNBC in a recent interview.
"Wi-Fi is the utility of the 21st century," says Weaver, "as important as electricity or running water for a functioning home."
Exploding mobile data traffic and the proliferation of gadgets has turned the router market into a juggernaut that Grand View Research estimates will be worth $41 billion by 2022. The firm said the need for high-speed internet access will create a "quantum shift" in the industry that will boost demand for Wi-Fi tech.
Yet as companies create more smart devices, each vying for limited Wi-Fi bandwidth, current single router solutions may not be able to handle the increased load. That is likely to boost demand for Wi-Fi systems that bring faster speeds and coverage across the home.
Instead of using a range extender or a universal repeater, Eero takes all of these devices and puts them together to create one simple-to-use streamlined system.
"Buffering and frustratingly difficult setups are a pain point in most homes, and few solutions make it easy to share network passwords via text or email, manage kids' screen time or even get great customer support," Weaver said.
"You wouldn't put one router in the center of an office for 100 employees and expect it to work," Weaver explained. Eero "set out to make it easy to blanket every corner of every room in your home with fast, reliable Wi-Fi by using this distributed model."
Despite the opportunities, Carol Roth, a small business expert and CNBC contributor, said the start-up market for a product like this could be risky as more and more companies start to come up with whole-house solutions.
"Early entrants have to spend resources educating the consumer about a product," she said. "Often once that education is done and a market opportunity is proven, a bigger, better-funded and better-known competitor comes in with the next generation and wipes the early entrants out."
Eero costs just $199 for a single unit or $499 for three. Luma sells three units for $399.