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Broadband Gateways Moving to Living Room

The Diffusion Group (TDG) announced that, according to its latest research, broadband routers and gateways (the platforms by which home networks and connected devices are enabled) are now more likely to be located in the family or living room than the home office.

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Unedited press release follows:

Broadband Gateways Moving to the Living Room, Web-Enabled “Connected TV” to Benefit

TDG Research Finds Broadband Gateway Placement Hints at Pending Shift in Home Network and Connected Media Use

Frisco, Texas (October 6, 2010). According to new research from The Diffusion Group (TDG), broadband routers and gateways—the key platforms by which home networks and “connected devices” are enabled—are more likely to be located in the family or living room than the home office. This reverses a long-standing precedent of the digital home, a change particularly encouraging for the connected CE and broadband media industries.

TDG’s new report, The In-Home CE Ecosystem of U.S. Broadband Households: 2010, confirms what many observers have suspected for years: the home network is becoming less about data-centric activity centers on PCs and printers, and more about piping web-based digital media into the home.

“While many will not understand the impact of this shift, others will see it as a tipping point of sorts, a time at which possibilities of net-connected in-home media began in earnest to move from dream to reality,” notes Michael Greeson, Founding Partner at TDG and author of the new report.

Greeson notes that in 2006 only 18% of gateways and routers were located in family/living room, while 39% were located in a home office. In other words, it was a two-to-one ratio in favor of home office placement, which made perfect sense given that home networking was about sharing a single Internet connection and files—even a printer or scanner—among multiple PCs. Media sharing—whether exclusively among PCs or including real-time Internet streaming or downloads—was an academic topic, discussed more by industry evangelists than consumers.

Today, close to one-third of all home network gateways are located in the family/living room (up 64% since 2006), while gateways placed in the home office declined from 40% to 26% (a drop of 35%)

What accounts for this trend? Greeson notes that media networking (connecting CE devices to the Internet and each other via a home network) is a regular activity among four in ten home network users. The closer one places the router to the primary home entertainment center (and the TV, in particular), the easier it is to connect CE and access net-based media such as Netflix and Hulu.

Within the next few years, TDG believes this behavior will expand dramatically, driven by consumer demand for online media applications and services, and the widespread availability of inexpensive mainstream “web-ready” CE platforms.

TDG’s new report, The In-Home CE Ecosystem of U.S. Broadband Households: 2010, offers detailed insight into the types of consumer electronic devices that are used by today’s broadband households, the rooms within the home in which these devices are located or primarily used, and the Internet connectivity status of each device by room. It is the most concise research-based view of the CE and PC architecture of the broadband home available today.