Digital home networks poised to go mobile

Digital home networks poised to go mobile

Analyst predicts digital content everywhere

The next frontier in high-tech home entertainment will centre on the merging of digital home networks with mobile devices, industry analysts predicted today.

A new study from ABI Research suggests that consumer product vendors, content providers and mobile operators are working on technology that allows consumers to access personal content over a home network through Wi-Fi or the mobile network.

"In recent months we have seen a number of announcements and proof-of-concept demonstrations from major players in the mobile and consumer electronics markets that tie the consumer's mobile devices to the home network," said Michael Wolf, principal analyst for broadband and multimedia at ABI Research.

"Whether they are more basic 'cache and carry' solutions such as Motorola's Follow Me TV, or more evolved products such as systems from Sling Media and Orb Networks for transferring live TV, cached video and music content to mobile phones, mobile devices are fast becoming critical emerging clients on the media network in the home."

The analyst firm pointed out that connection of the mobile client to a consumer's premium video content signals a potential shift in usage that could be disruptive to wireless service providers in the long term.

However, ABI Research added that the consumer's ability to connect to a wireless service's premium video content in the home could result in new demand for advanced mobile phones and mobile data plans.

More ominously for carriers, these novel capabilities could create new and attractive alternatives outside the 'walled garden' video services currently being offered by mobile carriers.

Other examples of merging mobile and home networks include systems that allow multiple PCs to connect via a Wi-Fi network and access a mobile high speed network.

A new mobile router from Linksys is one such device that enables multiple users to access a wireless carrier's high speed data network through a local area Wi-Fi connection.

"The media network has evolved because consumers want to be able to connect to all the devices in their lives and access all their content," said Wolf. " The merging of home and wide area wireless networks is the next natural step in this evolution."