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Consumer Home Network Ongoing Challenge

As the digital home creates new technical challenges, more consumers will turn to professional on-site or remote support services for help with their home technology problems, according to Parks Associates.

This survey of more than 6,000 U.S. and Canadian home Internet users found that in the past 12 months, over 41 million U.S. users had problems associated with Internet security, over 21 million had home computer hardware and software issues, and nearly 11 million had problems with a home network. While most consumers are personally solving the issue or relying on a friend or family member, more than 60 percent express interest in software that automates basic home computer maintenance functions, and one-third are interested in subscription-based technical support and troubleshooting services.

"Digital technologies such as broadband, home networks, consumer electronics, and PCs provide great benefits to users and significant challenges to the companies supporting their distribution," said Kurt Scherf, vice president and principal analyst for Parks Associates. "As the average household uses more digital services and products, there will be substantial risk to the bottom line for both service providers and manufacturers as their technical support costs escalate."

There are also revenue opportunities, according to Scherf. Current consumer spending for additional warranties and accident protection contracts on new electronics and computer products, in addition to more positive responses to preventative maintenance, monitoring, and troubleshooting services, demonstrates a consumer willingness to pay for peace-of-mind and how-to services for their home technology products.

"Consumers want access to trusted third-party providers of information, support, and how-to services when it comes to their digital home products and services," Scherf said. "Whether the service comes at no charge as part of an existing broadband contract or is provided as a monthly subscription or one-off service call, there is substantial interest for services and solutions that help end users better manage their digital home environment."

"Managing the Digital Home: Installation and Support Services" is a survey of 6,116 U.S. and Canadian home Internet users. The study focuses specifically on the acquisition and use of communications and entertainment services, product ownership and new product purchases, and the role of specific technologies - the Internet, home computers, and home networks - as they relate to potential problems.

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