Survey: Consumers want digital home help

Jan. 10, 2007
JANUARY 10, 2007 -- A Broadband Services Forum study reveals nearly 43% of consumers want to have professionals install their broadband home networks and would be willing to pay a monthly fee for installation and maintenance.

JANUARY 10, 2007 -- The Broadband Services Forum (BSF), a global industry resource focused on the fundamental business and technology issues of the broadband industry, has announced the results of its recent survey of North American consumers on home networking. Confirming industry consensus, 60% of respondents said they preferred to receive their Internet access, telephone, and video services from the same provider, and, surprisingly, not necessarily at a discount. Nearly 43% said they want to have professionals install their services and would be willing to pay a monthly fee for installation and maintenance.

The overriding theme to responses, according to Brett Azuma, president of Ovum-RHK, a global research firm who conducted the survey, is that the digital home is a reality; people are making purchasing decisions accordingly and they are not only open to help, they expect it.

"In an interesting turn of affairs," said Azuma, "even the early adopters, those of us who would consider ourselves 'geeks,' are recognizing that in order to make things run very simply for everyone in the household, the installation process needs to be easier. Consumers are looking for support from their service providers in setting up their home networks and fully 78% of those surveyed consider 'ease of use' the most important factor in their buying decisions, indicating that before you even buy, you want to make certain you can use the tool."

What do consumers expect from their home networks? Survey participants initially responded with what they already know their networks can do: high-speed Internet access and easy sharing of photographs. However, as respondents dove into the survey, their plans for the ubiquity of the new home network became more apparent, along with their desire to be able to manage digital assets: video and music storage with access available throughout the home, photo storage and sharing, and gaming. In fact, some specific components equally dominate short-term purchasing intent: digital video recorders (DVRs), MP3 players, and next-generation gaming consoles.

Logically, security ranks highly, because while end users want access to their digital assets, perhaps in a personal vault that can be managed and backed up, they also want their personal information and identity protected.

The ability to provide a "digital vault" that contains one's own digital assets that can be shared not only throughout the home but across networks provides an appealing new route for scattered family or friends to stay connected. "Imagine being able to share a holiday movie with cousins in Toronto, New York, and California, or flipping through a collection of old family photos together after Christmas dinner," says Joe Mosher, BSF board member and director, Aliant ISP. "These are the types of experiences that appeal to our subscribers and we are working to deliver. The key is in really thinking differently about what is possible and making it as simple as can be for our subscribers."

Phase 2 of the survey will be directed towards service providers and their efforts. Survey results for Phase 1 are available to Broadband Services Forum members on the forum's website. The BSF's report of findings and recommendations will be available in the first quarter of 2007.

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