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Study lends credence to home networks

More Americans want to network PCs, printers, and televisions inside their homes, but analysts say a mass market for this equipment is years away.

More and more Americans are interested in ways to network personal computers, printers, and televisions inside their homes, according to a study released today.

The Yankee Group study found that 30 percent of households in the United States--or 13.4-percent of all households--that already own PCs are keen on the idea of tying household electrical devices so they can be centrally controlled and shared. This bodes well for the makers of such networking products.

A variety of technologies and standards efforts revolving around wireless and wired "home networks" are nowSee special report: 
When worlds collide brewing as more homes add second PCs and other digital devices such as handheld computers. Analysts estimate that about 20 million homes have more than one PC, an indicator that there is a growing market to connect PCs to each other and to a network.

But while companies are continuing to jump into the market for home networking equipment, analysts say a mass market for home networking is years away.

The Yankee study found that the key factor driving current demand for home networks is the number of homes with high-speed data access.

High-speed data to the home creates a need for high-speed data inside the home, such as home networks. Home networking products will give consumers the ability to share such data access between devices, which would help drive the continued growth of the broadband market.

The increase in the number of multi-PC and online households , the increasing number of digital consumer electronic devices such as DVDs, as well as the 26.8 million households that do some or all of their work at home, are the other key factors driving the consumer demand for home networks.

"Consumers are going to begin looking for ways to bring all the isolated devices inside their home together so the devices can share data," Karuna Uppal, an analyst with the Yankee Group, said in a statement.

Early adopters of home networking products are multi-PC households, of which 96.5 percent also own printers. Thirty-six percent of these households have incomes of more than $75,000 per year.

The types of applications that will prompt the majority of households to install home networking are entertainment applications such as multiplayer gaming and digital audio visual, the study concluded. Because these applications are not so closely tied to PC ownership, they will give home networking products a larger available market. This includes the 56 percent of homes that do not have a PC today.