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Asia Pacific Leading Digital Home Markets

According to IDC's recent report "Asia-Pacific (Excluding Japan) Digital Home Survey 2006", the need to share content among multiple PCs in a household will drive demand for home networking solutions as the number of broadband users across the APEJ region continues to grow.

Broadband access continues to have a major impact on consumer's lives, and the overall economic development within communities. However, the rate of this usage depends a great deal on the internal dynamics of each market. In 2006, Internet users across the APEJ region continue to make significant progress in terms of ownership, use, and understanding of home networking applications.

"The goal of our survey was to understand how broadband is affecting consumers across Asia-Pacific as the number of residential Internet subscribers using a high-speed broadband connections grow," said Claudio Checchia, Research Manager, Asia-Pacific Consumer Markets. "Our survey targeted a large broadband base, with 62.4 percent of all respondents subscribing to broadband access and the balance 37.6 percent being narrowband respondents."

Based on the consumer survey the highest number of broadband respondents was found in Korea (95%), Taiwan (90.5%), and Hong Kong (89.6%), followed by Singapore (78.2%), Thailand (63.6%), and China (52.6%), while majority of respondents in Malaysia, Australia, and India subscribed to narrowband access.

Although several markets in APEJ are still heavily relying on narrowband, it is only a matter of time, and with the right price, before more residential subscribers switch to broadband. In terms of Internet users per household, the survey results show that the number of households with multiple Internet users keeps growing.

Survey data shows that 37 percent of respondents live in households with two users accessing the Internet, 28.7 percent live in household with three people accessing the Internet, and 22.5 percent of respondents live in households with four or more family members engaging in online activities.

As the number of broadband subscribers continues to grow across APEJ, nearly 40 percent of respondents have set up a PC network. Higher penetration of PC networks was recorded in the PRC, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore. The majority of users who install a home network do so for its practical, data-centric applications.

The top five reasons given for the installation of a home network all belong to the 'work-related' PC network category. Sharing a fast Internet connection was by far the most important reason, particularly more important for respondents in Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Hong Kong.

Other key reasons for setting up a home network included sharing peripherals on the network, transferring files on the network, wireless connectivity, and sharing a network for generic work purposes. Installing a home network in order to play PC games online was the first entertainment related activity ranking in sixth place in order of priority, while attaching gaming consoles to the home network was the twelfth highest ranking reason for installing a home network.

IDC's consumer survey also investigated the type of technology adopted by respondents who have installed any type of home network. Although prices for wireless equipment continue to decline, the availability of multiple 802.11x wireless standards will continue to confuse consumers and potentially inhibit the market growth. Ethernet remains the mainstream home networking technology.

The survey results show that 59 percent of respondents have adopted the more traditional wired Ethernet solution for their home networks. When it came to the type of technology used for installation of home networks, 59 percent of respondents chose a wired solution. A wireless Internet access has also become a more appealing option among recent adopters of home networking, according to 16.3 percent of respondents. Another 25 percent of respondents stated they have adopted a mixture of wired and wireless for their home network.

While PC home networking enables only data-centric applications, it will be the media-centric home networks that will represent the next step into connected entertainment systems. This consists of video, audio, and images served up by storage units that could include a PC or some other device, such as a personal video recorder (PVR), and being streamed through a variety of devices across the home.

According to our consumer survey, nearly 17 percent of respondents account for this type of media-centric network ownership across the APEJ region. As more Internet users in APEJ migrate to broadband for faster Internet access, these end users will eventually understand the benefits of the connection and become willing to consume more broadband applications such as online gaming, pay-TV, VoD, and multimedia content.

Overall, some 20 percent of respondents have access to IPTV services. Already, 77.8 percent of respondents watch Internet videos, with the highest percentage of respondents who watch online video files concentrated in the PRC, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Thailand.

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