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Home Networks: The Rise of Consumer IT Infrastructure

Home Networks: The Rise of Consumer IT Infrastructure

Home networks are now an essential part of Internet access. There are relatively few broadband-connected homes that do not have wireless routers to distribute access to the myriad devices that can now be connected with Internet-provided services. And, while a purist might argue that a central node-based architecture is not a very good example of networking, the fact is that, historically, such node-based architectures represented much of the early business networking infrastructure. Eventually, such approaches gave way to the multi-node networks that are common in today’s enterprises. Likewise, home networks will ultimately evolve as well; and, in fact, are doing so even now.

One area where a centralized model tends to show some strain is in content distribution. With Wi-Fi barely able to support streaming HD media, vendors and operators have experiemented with various flavors of networking; including Bluetooth, Ethernet, and distributed coaxial cabling. None of these approaches, however, integrate well with the data network, nor do they allow for applications that might combine content with data services.

Newer networking approaches have included utilizing the power wiring as a data-carrying distribution system, as well as building Wi-Fi overlay networks, dedicated to content. Yet, every new approach essentially adds another network to the connected home, and introduces more complexity into consumers’ lives. What is really desired is a centralized approach to management; ideally, as a remote management service offered by the operator. Yet, most network operators are loath to enter the remote management market.

The state of home networking, then, is one of nascent capability, combined with an increasing need for reliability and ease of use. This situation transalates into considerable opportunity for technology vendors, operators, and communication service providers.

Consumers will need help in installing, optimizing and maintaining their home networks. Self-service probably won’t be sufficient to keep this increasingly complex infrastructure running effectively.


  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction1
  • The State of Home Networking
  • Foundations for the Home Network
    • Why the Smart Home is Not So Smart
    • Building on Home Security Systems
    • Using Wi-Fi to Enable Everything
    • Leveraging the Ubiquitous and Simple Inside-the-Home Electric Power Wiring
  • Home Networking Opportunities
  • The Last Word

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