Why you will network your home
October 22, 1999
October 22, 1999
by Tom Mainelli
(IDG) -- Coming soon to millions of homes near you: easy, speedy home networks.
Just what, you may ask, is driving all these homes to get connected?
"Broadband," says Eric Benhamou, 3Com's chief executive, speaking at the Yankee Group's Networked Home Symposium here this week.
If a multi-PC home has one high-speed Internet connection, everyone will want a piece of it, Benhamou says. Today's broadband connections aren't cheap, but sharing the resource makes it easier to justify the cost, he says.
Yankee Group expects the number of residential broadband users to jump from 1.5 million to 10 million over the next four years.
The MP3 audio explosion makes home networks attractive to people who want faster and easier ways to share music, says Tony Zuccarino, senior director of business development and product marketing at Broadcom.
A 10-megabit-per-second home network is perfect for moving MP3 audio files among different PCs, Zuccarino says. While that's important now, it will be even more so when non-PC devices like stereos join the home network lineup down the road.
In September NetGear announced 10-mbps Home Phoneline10X products, including a PCI-based package for about $150 (USB and ethernet products are also available). This week 3Com and Diamond Multimedia announced 10-mbps, PCI-based packages. Diamond's 10-mbps HomeFree solution sells for about $130; 3Com's upcoming 10-mbps HomeConnect package will sell for about $150.
Other home network options simply do not yet offer the same combination of pricing, convenience, and speed.
Conventional ethernet runs at 10 mbps or even 100 mbps, but requires special cables. Unless you're building a new house, or have all your computers in one room, it's not very practical.
Wireless is handy but still typically slower and more expensive than phone line nets. Researchers expect it to play a much larger role in the future as consumers bring home more mobile products and vendors increase transfer rates and lower prices.
You can also create a home network using the existing power lines in your house. Intelogis has developed power-line networking products (a start-up kit for two PCs and a printer costs $80), but at 350 kilobits per second, the network speed lags far behind alternatives.
This technique offers some advantages, as power outlets are even more plentiful then phone jacks in most homes. However, it's tough to achieve dependability because power lines are a "hostile environment," Zuccarino says.
Daniel Sweeney, general manager of home networking operations at Intel, says his company has found power line-based networks work well in the lab, but simply do not work in every home. "The reliability may not be there," he says.
"People aren't buying pieces; they want the total solution," agrees Sweeney. Customer support is especially important with home nets, he adds.
Customers also need to understand the risks of creating a network that is connected to the Internet, Zuccarino says. Sweeney agrees, saying that this is not a case in which the security threat is more hype than reality.
Big Blue to go online with home PCs
RELATED IDG.net STORIES:
No-brainer home hookups
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.