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Home networking set to take off

Current efforts to make it easy to network multiple PCs and devices within homes will reap a $4 billion market reward by 2002, a new study says.

Current efforts aimed at making it easy to network multiple PCs and devices within homes will reap a $4 billion market reward by the year 2002, according to a new study by a West Coast securities firm.

This latest prediction, issued in a recent report by Los Angeles-based Wedbush Morgan Securities, underscores the increased focus from several corners of the industry on making it easy for consumer computer users within a home to build a network to share resources and gain access to the Net.

The study follows a bevy of activity on the standards front, including a new group for phone line-based networks, another chartered for connecting a variety of electronic devices, and still another focused on delivering wireless communications within the home.

Wedbush Morgan Securities estimates that home networking will become a $1 billion market by the year 2000 and jump to a $4 billion opportunity by 2002.

One reason for the expected home networking boom is estimates that 61 percent of the expected 57 million homes with PCs will have more than one by the year 2000. In addition, 49 percent of households will be connected to the Net by the year 2000, according to the estimates, a compilation of Wedbush Morgan, Dataquest, and Intel studies.

Wedbush Morgan said it believes technology for in-home networks will be ready for use by the fourth quarter of this year.

Among the nascent firms listed as potential beneficiaries of the boom are: Tut Systems, Epigram, ShareWave, and WebGear, according to the study.

Others expected to reap the benefits are Microsoft, Compaq Computer, and Lucent Technologies, the study said.