Networking companies need to pay attention to the soon-to-become-apparent growth in residential networks, according to managing director Ian McLean, of SOHO networking hardware vendor Netgear.
McLean believes Netgear is well placed to take advantage of this burgeoning market, given its background in introducing fast, affordable switches to the Australian marketplace. Netgear intends to continue this trend with the introduction of cable modems later this year.
In addition to focusing on providing a strong product lineup, McLean said Netgear's direction in the mid-term was fairly dependent on whether Australian carriers decide to open bandwidth resources to other industry players.
"At the moment they are effectively selling both the hardware and the service as a bundle," he said. "And they advertise the bundle as part of the total offer. What would obviously be preferable for us and the channel, and for the take up of these products generally, is if these bundles could be undone, and just put out through the general dealer channel per se."
He said the unbundling process would provide dealers with access to wider markets.
Netgear's residential cable modems have been available in the US since September last year and are currently being evaluated for Australian end users. According to company sources the Phoneline Networking products are designed to allow the sharing of Internet connection, files, printers and multiplayer games via home telephone lines at Ethernet speed.
McLean hopes to launch these products on the Australian market later this year, pending any necessary adaptation to Australian cabling and home designs.
Home networking, however, will involve more than simply providing the hardware. Netgear already has in place a support network including a 24 x 7 hardware helpdesk which switches to the US outside of Australian business hours, online training at the company Web site and a newsletter distributed through its major partners.
However, McLean concedes that as Netgear expands into the residential network market these services will need to become more attuned to software as well as hardware issues. With this in mind, the company intends to focus on providing software product knowledge via its helpdesk, a move which may lead to closer ties between Netgear and relevant software producers.