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The world according to 2Wire, Part One

Oct 27, 20033 mins
Cellular NetworksRouters

A recent 2Wire customer study reveals some surprises.

With more than half-a-million broadband gateways in the field, 2Wire’s well qualified to provide a peek at the typical service-provider-managed home network. Last week I sat down with company CEO Brian Hinman, who shared the results of a recent survey 2Wire conducted with its customers. Here are the highlights:

The average number of connections per home network is shrinking, from about 2.5 connections per LAN last year to 1.7 today. I found this pretty surprising — wouldn’t you expect the number to increase as devices such as PlayStation2s and wireless Web pads get connected?  

Hinman attributed the decrease to two things. As 2Wire’s focus shifts from early adopters to the broader consumer market, it finds consumers tend to have fewer computers to connect on a network. Also interesting is that many new customers are buying gateways to secure a single PC, and we should be ready for future expansion.

On the other end of the spectrum, 2Wire found some of its customers have many PCs on their network, including a few with more than 100. While these customers are unusual, Hinman says some small businesses — likely remote branch offices and some larger SOHO locations — are using 2Wire gateways for network connectivity and security.

Consistent with In-Stat/MDR’s research, 2Wire found the majority of customers are using wired Ethernet — not wireless — to connect PCs. According to the survey, only 10% of the current LAN connections to 2Wire’s gateway use Wi-Fi, and since the majority of shipments occurred in the past year, this means a large percentage of new networks are still using Ethernet. 

2Wire found Ethernet accounted for 55% of total LAN connections; HomePNA 22%; USB 13%; and wireless 10%. The amount of HPNA probably raised your eyebrows, given that the technology has floundered so. But unlike big box retailers, which support only big runners (Ethernet and Wi-Fi), 2Wire has always been a strong HPNA proponent, building HPNA ports into its gateways and offering HPNA adapters.  

Even so, Hinman expects the HPNA user community to reflect the larger home network community over time. While 2Wire will continue to support HPNA, Hinman predicts even high-quality video connections from 2Wire gateways will go over wireless LAN links eventually.

2Wire’s acquisition of media networking company Sugar Media last week means we can expect networked entertainment — be it wireless or wired — to be the next big focus for this lone remaining residential gateway start-up.

Next week, we’ll look at Hinman’s vision for the market and his company.