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North America Home Network Demand Grows

According to Forrester Research, sixteen percent of North American households now have a home network. Home networking adoption grew by 80 percent in 2005, on top of 61 percent growth in 2004.

Tenured home networkers � those who have had a network for longer than 18 months � are sticking with Ethernet in surprising numbers, but wireless technology is dominant in new networks. The average network has more than five devices connected and at least three different types, but most networks simply enable basic PC activities like broadband, file, and printer sharing. The shift to the entertainment-centric network remains well into the future.

Retail dominates the channel but ISPs are gaining. Nearly 70 percent of all home networkers bought their equipment from a retailer. But newbies are 75 percent more likely than tenured networkers to have gotten their gear from an ISP � 27 percent of new networkers got their equipment from their ISP for free, or as a purchase, compared with just 16 percent of tenured networkers. As ISPs like AT&T Yahoo! continue to push integrated �gateway� devices this number will continue to rise.

New home network users need � and expect � more help. More than eight in 10 networks were set up by someone in the household or a friend or relative, with new networkers more likely to rely on an outsider. But more than half of networkers � and 62 percent of newbies � say they want professional network support, and favor either the equipment maker or their ISP for the role. Among those with a wireless network, one in four report having to revisit a retailer to return a piece of networking gear that they couldn�t make work.

What's the primary reason? The Forrester study uncovered that three in five say it was because the home networking device was defective, but Forrester believes that installation complexity is more likely the explanation for consumer returns.

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