The future of home networking will see multiple devices connected to the Internet and to each other. At the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the emphasis was on Internet-enabled everything. Recent market studies also confirm this trend. The penetration of connected consumer electronic devices such as TVs, Blu-ray players, and smartphones are projected to grow 400% between 2010 and 2015, as shown in the chart below.
The introduction of so many new tablets is another indication that the demand for connected consumer electronics is surging. Consumer expectations about the quality of their connectivity is increasing as more and more of the devices are used for entertainment such as streaming movies or online gaming.
As these connected devices become part of future homes, home networking products will have to be ready to support them, with new features that enable the best possible experience.
Powerful routers, home gateways, centralized media servers, powerline network adapters, and wireless add-ons like Wi-Fi range-extenders will soon become the norm for the connected home. The future home network will have to be smart enough to adapt to changing priorities, dedicate more bandwidth to certain activities and switch between devices readily.
Building Your Future Home Network
When looking for an interruption-free Internet experience in the home, consumers should keep an eye out for a router with dual band. These routers provide the kind of bandwidth required by the devices connecting to the home network and Internet. Dual band functionality provides twice the Wi-Fi bandwidth, giving the consumer two completely separate wireless networks within the home. The most used frequency is 2.4GHz, as it is ideal to support web surfing, e-mail and chat. However, having another band to select from (the 5GHz band) enables better video streaming. Fewer devices connecting on this band avoids wireless congestion and renders video streaming without jitters and lags. Consumers should look for this dual band capability from their wireless router at home especially if they are streaming video from sites like Netflix, YouTube or Hulu. Some dual band wireless routers even come with a special “Video Mode” that not only makes it easier to set up wireless for this type of video streaming but also uses video-centric algorithms that reduce video jitter and frame loss during streaming.
Built-in Quality of Service (QoS) is another feature being integrated in modern wireless routers. This feature allows prioritization of devices to deliver maximum Internet bandwidth and performance. This prioritization allows the dedication of more bandwidth to HD movies for flawless viewing. Once the priority is set in the router, the router recognizes the type of Internet traffic and prioritizes it, automatically. Some modern wireless routers come with the most popular applications already set up, auto-assigning priority to activities such as voice calls versus web surfing, e-mail or downloads.
The growth of high quality HD-video streaming is just one of the many reasons consumers need to understand the crucial role their home wireless router plays. As the number of activities occurring over wireless increase, better performance will be required from home Wi-Fi connections. Fortunately, home networking companies are rolling out the features that ensure high quality video streaming and other Wi-Fi activities almost daily.
A Look Into the Future
By 2015, the average bandwidth to the home from DSL, cable, or wireless providers will grow exponentially. Consumers will continue to enjoy video content on various sized screens including flawless streaming to handheld devices. CDs, DVDs and Blu-Ray Discs will be used mostly by those who cherish physical media. However, streaming video from the Internet and from home media servers will more likely become the norm.
Consumers can see this trend today in the modern network attached storage (NAS) device that supports media serving capabilities. Advanced wireless routers have media servers built in, and have the ability to stream and share media stored on any connected external USB hard drive. As customers wish to have instant access to all of their media all of the time, whether at home or on smartphones and tablets, NAS devices and wireless routers need to support remote access. The most advanced NAS products today support this “anytime, anywhere” type of access as do advanced consumer wireless routers.
Home control and security monitoring will also be accessible from any Internet connection, and manageable from a smartphone, PC or tablet.
In today’s modern home, consumers are already seeing the growing trend of everything being connected to the Internet. In many cases, the amount of Internet-connected devices in the home outnumber the people in the household. This means more and more is demanded from home wireless networks and Internet connections. Thankfully, home networking companies are answering the call by innovating new wireless solutions and home router features that facilitate the connected entertainment experience people expect.