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Study: Home networking on shaky ground

Home networking is heading for stagnation as those without one wonder whether they need it.

More than three-quarters of Americans do not own a home computing network and have no plans to get one in the near future, according to a new study.

A nationwide survey conducted by Harris Interactive indicated that 88 percent of those who do not have a home network right now don't see a need for it. A home network connects multiple computing devices, which enables computers to swap files and to send videos to a television or digital music to a stereo. Most people's home networks pretty much just link a laptop and a desktop PC, or print wirelessly.

The October survey quizzed 1,014 U.S. adults, of whom 225 had a home computing network and 699 did not intend to install one or currently are not sure.

"With an estimated 24 percent of U.S. households expected to have a home network by the end of 2005, only a 3-percentage-point increase from October 2004, home network and digital home product providers will want to address the issues that have many adults feeling as if they don't need a home network," Milton Ellis, vice president of Harris Interactive Technology Research, said in a statement. "If the end users cannot see the benefits of a home network, it may be a long road ahead before we see acceptance of the digital home by the masses."

According to the research firm, home network vendors need to come up with ways to increase their market penetration. Several consumer electronic companies are already introducing products that use a home network as means to deliver entertainment content. A recent study from NDP Group predicted that television will play a central role in the next wave of home networking.

Those with a home network cited the ability to use a single Internet connection (84 percent), to use a common printer or peripherals (64 percent) and to share files (58 percent) as primary reasons for choosing a network.