Parks Associates Blog

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hybrid Home Networks

I had a reporter contact me this morning to ask me my opinion about hybrid home networks - the combination of both Wi-Fi and a wired or so-called "no-new-wires" networking solution (powerline, coax, twisted-pair, Ethernet, etc.). She wanted to know if my opinion on the growth of hybrids had changed since we discussed this trend in a few papers and reports a couple of years ago. After having attended the MoCA Technology Conference a couple of weeks ago and having a thoughtful press/analyst panel that covered this topic, the timing of the question was good. I wanted to share some thoughts based on our recent conversations with industry players.

In my coverage area (which includes television services, set-top boxes, residential gateways, PCs, media adapters, media servers, etc.), I still do sense a mindset around a wireless plus a wired (powerline, coax, twisted-pair, Ethernet, etc.) solution. Since service providers now are pushing home networking to extend the value and utility of broadband, television, and communications services, they in particular are probably going to go with hybrids.

Take, for example, the deployment efforts of both AT&T and Verizon as they are delivering deep-fiber-based broadband and television services to the home. As they are installing these services, they’re using residential gateways that have both a wireless (802.11g) + a coax/twisted pair (Verizon is using MoCA; AT&T uses HomePNA) solution to distribute TV content, broadband, communications, etc. They definitely see the value in having the wireless component, since it provides a homeowner with much greater flexibility of where to use a laptop computer or locating a desktop PC that may not be co-located to a coax, Ethernet, or phone outlet. However, as we’ll see multi-room DVRs start to be used in greater numbers (right now, Verizon and DISH Network are the only U.S. two service providers that make this available to their subscribers; AT&T is supposed to launch a multi-room solution next year; Telefonica's latest quarterly earnings report mentions that multi-room is in the works for 2008 for their Imagenio television service), they still depend on the wired solution to transmit that video from the master set-top box to the others in the home. And, I still hear lots of doubts from service providers and their customer premise equipment vendor partners that wireless alone will be capable of delivering a completely reliable and consistent signal, especially for high-definition signals. As we see more multi-room video efforts emerge from service providers, I’d expect that they’ll be enabled via set-tops and residential gateway devices that utilize the wired connection for video distribution and the wireless connection for mobility and flexibility.


Blogger Rael said...

"...a mindset around a wireless plus a wired (powerline, coax, twisted-pair, Ethernet, etc.) solution."
Yup, still to early to expect takers of a 100% wired system.
Thanks for sharing the previous insight on the Google-Microsoft Wars.
And here's some Home Theater info before we settle down for Christmas: Wonders of wonders,
CNet's Most
coinciding--*surprise*--on two home theater choices, the Philips HTS3555 selling at $189 to $250, and the $337 to $599 Panasonic SC-PT750.
Both have an integrated DVD player.

12:10 AM  

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