Thursday, August 27, 2009

Gateways, Web shape next-gen home networks

More than 350 million households worldwide will have some form of home network by 2013, many focused on video-on-demand services, predicted Kurt Scherf, principal analyst at Parks Associates in a Webinar Thursday (August 27). By contrast, the biggest application for today's home nets is printer sharing (49 percent) followed by file sharing (35 percent), he said. "It's surprising that we still see relatively limited use of even these basic home networking features," Scherf said.

The vast majority of today's nets are based on Wi-Fi routers bought at retail, but service providers are driving adoption of wired links as they deploy residential gateways. Parks predicts residential gateways will grow from use in about a third of networked homes at the end of 2009 to use in about half of all home nets in 2013. "Wi-Fi remains king, but wired especially powerline networks will come on stronger as service providers bring gateways into the picture and we see a rise of video services," Scherf said. As the mix of networks shift, the systems riding them are in an all-out race to deliver links to the Internet creating an "overwhelming variety of solutions," he said. "The question is who will create the secondary or tertiary devices that will connect to premium services beyond the set-top box and residential gateway," said Scherf. "I think there will be strong movement by service providers to link platforms together, and we will see online video growth through connected TVs," he added. Connected TVs, cloud-media set-tops see biggest growth.

Beyond the set-top or gateway, videogame consoles represent the biggest group of Web-linked systems in the digital living room today with about 15 million installed worldwide. "The big change in connected consumer devices is in cloud-media set-top boxes," he said, referring to systems such as AppleTV and the Roku and Vudu video players bought at retail that sport their own links to Web-based video libraries. Sales of such Web media systems will rise from about 6.6 million in 2009 to 10.5 million next year, Parks estimates. However, 82 percent of users told Parks they prefer getting video services through a traditional TV provider's set-top, potentially limiting growth for retail systems.

From the article, "Gateways, Web shape next-gen home networks" by Rick Merritt

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