Mobile Growth Drives Home Network Expansion, Says Gartner

Nathan Eddy is a contributor to eWeek and TechWeekEurope, covering cloud and BYOD

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Residential networks will increase in sophistication thanks to the growing use of connected devices within the home

Wireless networks found within the home are increasing in sophistication as the number of connected devices in each household increases.

So says a report from IT research firm Gartner, which predicts that global mobile devices per household – outside of smartphones with a mobile data plan – will increase by more than 8 percent annually through 2016.

It also forecast that 60 million Wi-Fi only devices (mostly tablets) per year will be added to households around the world.

Increasing Connectivity

As the use of multiple connected devices in the home continues to increase year over year, home networks provide the foundation to connect mobile devices, appliances and systems in the home. The report concluded that a network able to share a “robust, reliable and fast” fixed broadband access in the home would provide a cost-effective alternative to a metered mobile data plan.

Personal devices“There are almost 10 potentially Internet-enabled devices in the home today and while consumers primarily use the home network to share and view video content, the home network also enables other applications, such as home protection, monitoring and security, as well as fitness and health monitoring,” Fernando Elizalde, principal research analyst at Gartner, said in a statement.

Gartner analysts believe that home automation solutions will also become an integral part of the home network, however, the multiplicity of home automation wireless standards remains a challenge. While Wi-Fi is already widely deployed in homes today, the high power consumption of devices using this technology is a challenge in home automation. As a result, several wireless technologies other than Wi-Fi that use a lot less power are currently being used.

The penetration rates of other video-specific Internet-connectible devices, such as TVs, set-top boxes, digital video recorders (DVRs), video players, game consoles and cameras, is also expected to also grow as manufacturers progressively make connectivity a default feature in most devices, the report said.

“Until three or four years ago, consumers primarily accessed the Internet through PCs and laptops but at the beginning of 2013, the picture is very different,” Amanda Sabia, principal research analyst at Gartner, said in a statement. “Consumers use multiple screens to perform various activities that require both fixed and mobile Internet connectivity, from watching and sharing videos and photos, to playing games, to accessing social networks, to banking and paying bills online. Consumers are screen-agnostic – they will use whichever screen is convenient, as long as it is connected.”

Home Networks

There are additional issues original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and communications service providers (CSPs) will face, including older Wi-Fi and wireless routers that may have limited capabilities and may not be providing the required bandwidth, or be able to prioritise traffic to the connected device to provide an optimal experience. The report also pointed out that there could be interference from other wireless devices in the home or in the area.

“The increase in connected devices will require reliable broadband connectivity that is networked throughout the home,” Sabia continued. “The fixed broadband connection enables the most reliable and robust online experience within the home that can be shared, via a home network, to multiple devices in the home. The combination of an increasing number of Internet-connected devices and the expanding need for Internet services beyond communication, information and entertainment to include home monitoring and security could create interesting opportunities for CSPs.”

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Originally published on eWeek.

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