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. Gartner said that a network that shares a robust, reliable and fast fixed broadband access in the home will provide a cost-effective alternative to a metered mobile data plan.
“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,” said Amanda Sabia, principal research analyst at Gartner. “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.’”
“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,” said Fernando Elizalde, principal research analyst at Gartner.”
Gartner predicts that global mobile devices — other than smartphones with a mobile data plan — per household will increase by more than eight percent annually through 2016 while 60 million Wi-Fi-only devices (mostly tablets) per year will be added to the household around the world. The take rates of other video-specific Internet-connectible devices, such as TVs, set-top boxes, digital video recorders (DVRs), video players, game consoles and cameras, will also grow as manufacturers progressively make connectivity a default feature in most devices.
“The increase in connected devices will require reliable broadband connectivity that is networked throughout the home,” said Ms. Sabia. “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 communications service providers (CSPs). These include upselling possibilities for CSPs, such as selling faster fixed broadband services to preserve the user experience and to create a competitive advantage over other providers offering similar services.”
Households are migrating to higher-bandwidth-speed broadband packages as CSPs worldwide upgrade their networks to increase bandwidth throughput. However, improvement in bandwidth throughputs must be matched with the right technology for home networking. Older Wi-Fi/wireless routers may have limited capabilities and may not be providing the required bandwidth or be able to prioritize traffic to the connected device to provide an optimal experience. Additionally, there can be interference from other wireless devices in the home or in the area.
Gartner believes that home automation solutions will become an integral part of the home network. The main challenge is the multiplicity of home automation wireless standards. Wi-Fi is widely deployed in homes today, but the high power consumption of devices using this technology is a challenge in home automation. Hence, several wireless technologies other than Wi-Fi that use a lot less power are currently being used.