Home Networking

Several recent studies suggest that the number of households with some form of home networking will grow at an annual growth rate in the high double digits over the next few years. Why are so many homes installing a network? The two biggest reasons are the rapid expansion of broadband and the growth of video games.

Driving Forces

With high speed Internet access of various forms starting as low as $30 to $40 per month now available for most households, the broadband industry is beginning to emerge from an explosive growth phase. Coupled with this is the increasing tendency of families to own multiple PCs, such as a computer for the parents and one for the kids, or perhaps a laptop for a student. Over the long term it makes little sense to order several broadband connections when families can just as easily share one connection. Sharing a connection also generally provides a measure of security, with the router blocking access to the local computers from the Internet.

The second major factor we see is the growth of video games, both console and computer based. Nowadays games actually drive the computer hardware market, with modern games requiring huge amounts of graphical and CPU power and disk space to handle the increasingly advanced 3D graphics. Furthermore, almost every new game includes some sort of network or Internet play to allow multiple users to play with or against each other. "Gamers" frequently organize "LAN parties" where friends get together simply to play video games over a local area network.

Likewise, game console manufacturers like Microsoft and Sony have attempted to enter this arena by providing Internet play on their XBox and PlayStation 2 products. Game developers are starting to leverage this, for example with team games such as various sports and combat titles.


One challenge to home networking is the lack of structured wiring in houses. Even today many new houses lack data wiring, and since houses strongly favor solid ceilings over ceiling tiles, adding wiring can be difficult.

Fortunately the networking industry has solved that problem as well. As we have discussed in previous issues, wireless network usage has really taken off. Supporting this assertion is industry giant Cisco's recent acquisition of Linksys, a company which specializes in the small business and home networking arena, where Cisco has no brand presence.

With the proper security, wireless connectivity can be a great addition to any home, allowing families and friends to share their Internet connection as well as data files and a shared printer.


Speakeasy, a longtime ITS broadband partner, pounced on this trend, actively encouraging users to share their Speakeasy DSL connection with neighbors. In fact Speakeasy will allow the account holder to set pricing, and handle all billing, providing a 50% credit back each month for each additional user. Subscribers gain access to Speakeasy services such as e-mail accounts.

August 2003

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