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Home networking builds on housing boom

Buyers prefer their networks already there when they buy the home--no installation headaches or snaking wires, study says.

Americans are much more interested in home networks if they come built into a new home.

That's the conclusion of a new study by the Internet Home Alliance, which found that most new homebuyers are interested in home networking or some other aspect of a "smart home," a contrast to lagging overall support for home technology.

Tim Woods, vice president of the Internet Home Alliance, said the group's survey shows consumers are a lot more interested in home technology if it doesn't come with installation headaches, cracked drywall and wires snaking all over the house.

"It's very different when you're building a new home as opposed to retrofitting where you are now," he said. "Aesthetically, there's no comparison to having it built in. And people like the idea of having that cost built into the mortgage."

The group's "American Digital Dream" survey of more than 400 new homebuyers found that half planned to add at least one home technology option to the price of the new home, with the most common options being a security system, wiring for cable or satellite TV and built-in home theater equipment.

Sixty-nine percent planned to further outfit their home with technology purchased and installed by someone other than the contractor, with the most common choice being a wireless home network.

The results contrast with other recent surveys showing tepid interest overall in home networking. A Harris Interactive survey last month found that 75 percent of Americans don't have a home network and don't plan to install one in the near future. And a recent Parks Associates report found that the average home network doesn't do anything more complex than hook up a printer.

Initial interest in home networking is focused on applications such as security systems, Wood said, but entertainment is becoming an increasingly important motivator as media goes digital. "Right now, we're talking about basic things surrounding safety, security and peace of mind," he said. "But consumers get the whole idea around home entertainment. They like the idea of being able to move video and audio around the house, and that going to drive a lot of decisions."