The New Home Entertainment Network

Times are changing rapidly in the home entertainment market. We’re seeing all sorts of wired and wireless solutions being developed to bring audio and video entertainment, as well as telephone and information services to your home. But this raises the question of what happens to all this once it gets delivered there.

In the really old days — when the only choice was a rabbit ears on the TV or a rooftop antenna — the signal was delivered to a single set, and you sat in that room to watch it. Now, it’s common to split the signal and route it to various locations around the home. The most common solution is to run coax cable around with splitters and amplifiers, but many new homes are taking a home network approach, and are wiring runs of Cat5 Ethernet cable all over the place instead. You’re still limited to fixed locations where these wires terminate, however.

There’s another factor to consider. Wire is cheap, but installation labor is expensive. Retrofitting an existing home with new wires is even more costly because it’s more difficult to run wires within existing walls, and you have to be careful not to damage the the wall treatments.

As a result, it’s no surprise that so many companies are working on wireless ways to provide entertainment and information throughout the home. Bring all the services in to a single hub, and distribute it from there. For example, Amimon is a company in Israel that is developing a technology to deliver HDTV signals wirelessly. They demonstrated a prototype at InfoComm in Orlando last June, and have recently announced funding that will let them bring the product to market in early 2007. The system can transmit up to 100 feet, even through walls, and can send 1080p signals at a 3 Gb/s rate using a 40 MHz bandwidth segment of the unlicensed 5 GHz radio frequency band.

I expect that many homes will be completely wireless before long, as a single home network provides telephone, television, music, and Internet services to devices located anywhere within the house. The extra cost of the wireless connections will be much less than the cost of installing the wires, and this alone will drive its adoption. The freedom to use your phone or television or computer anywhere you want will simply be a bonus.