Majority of Set-Top Box to Remain Hard Wired through 2017 Despite Dominance of Wi-Fi Home Networks

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012 
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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — While Wi-Fi remains the predominant networking technology in most consumer’s homes, wired solutions are gaining traction, especially for multiroom DVRs. MoCA has become the go-to wired technology for most cable and satellite operators in North America, (with trials in Western Europe), while HomePlug continues to do well in Western Europe. This has created good opportunities for companies like Broadcom who offer integrated MoCA SoCs and HomePlug solutions and Entropic (MoCA IC provider) who recently acquired Trident Microsystems to climb the STB value chain.

“G.hn, with successful chipset plugfests held and certification underway, offers the potential to unify the home networking market in the long term,” commented practice director Sam Rosen. “The technology promises to bring added flexibility to the wired networking markets with strong supporters like Sigma Designs who is heavily invested in the technology as a follow-on to its HomePlug solutions. Other G.hn chip manufacturers, Marvell and Lantiq, have a wider communications portfolio and will be less impacted should G.hn fail to gain stronger market interest.”

Wi-Fi however, has started to gain interest amongst some pay TV operators in addition to wired standards that leverage existing wires in the home. Along with 802.11n MIMO solutions, next generation 802.11ac will add further incentive to explore wireless networking. The adoption of wireless STBs on a wider scale, however, will take time as many operators have already selected or are actively considering wired solutions.

Senior analyst Michael Inouye added, “Strong support for mobile devices could also convince service providers to add wireless connectivity to their STBs, particularly to support new standards like Wi-Fi Direct and Miracast; although these solutions would likely service households where wired solutions are less optimal or as a complement to wired networking. In the end with all of these technologies vying for operators’ attention, standards like IEEE 1905 might garner additional attention to better help consumers navigate the home networking marketplace.”

These findings are part of ABI Research’s Home Networking Research Service which includes additional Competitive Analyses, Vendor Matrices, Market Data, and Insights.