Gartner: Home networks need work, PC not "crucial"

Despite the exploding popularity of online video and other content whose final destination is often a personal computer, PCs will not be "crucial" to home networks--at least those in North America--in the future, according to Paul O'Donovan, principal research analyst at Gartner. The statement came in a press release from the research firm promoting the report, "Dataquest Insight: IPTV in and Around the Home."

Still, PCs will continue to play a significant role in home networks. While set top boxes, TVs and other consumer electronics gear are well positioned to play a bigger role, the interoperability and network connectivity capabilities of these devices still need some work, O'Donovan said, adding that IPTV services that remain only pay TV services still face an "up-hill struggle."

The implication is that making them part of a bundle and integrating them with broader home networking strategies will be key. However, in-home network connectivity remains a fragmented market. In North America, such networks can take advantage of existing coaxial cable wiring and sockets, though WiFi and related technologies will play a bigger role in other regions of the world, O'Donovan said. On the wireless front, Telenor earlier this spring chose Ruckus Wireless to support its IPTV deployment in Sweden.

WiFi also is the current favorite among home networks in the U.S., with about 53 percent of the market, according to recent research from Parks Associates. Ethernet is next in line with 28 percent. Upstart home network technologies such as Multimedia over Coax, HomePNA and HomePlug divide up the rest of the market, but are making a strong play for a starring role in future home networks that are to include a large degree of IPTV, video and content sharing. Recently, several companies joined to launch a new home networking consortium, the HomeGrid Forum, which will support the International Telecommunications Union's home networking standardization efforts. Some industry observers believe the new group can help unite the fragmented market.

For more:
- read this press release from Gartner
- check out this recent coverage at EE Times