Cisco looks ahead to home networking boom

Cisco Systems is looking to grab a chunk of the customer premises equipment market when converged IP residential services catch on and demand blooms for multifunction home appliances, the company's home-gear president says.

The key for success is for the CPE to integrate well with carrier edge gear, says Charlie Giancarlo, president of Cisco's Linksys division, speaking in a Next Generation Networks conference keynote.

Currently one of the most popular vendors of home switches, routers and access points, the future holds a combination of devices that support voice, video and Internet services, wirelessly distributed throughout the home, Giancarlo says.

The company has an edge on PC makers, he claims, because PCs are too expensive, for one thing. Linksys also comes at the problem from the angle of making home gear easy to use for non-technical customers who still have trouble configuring their home computers.

Home routers will impose quality of service for voice over IP as a default, he says, insuring good voice quality without requiring customers to mess with settings. Similarly, the devices will have to default to secure settings and make setting security policies easy. "The challenge is making security simple. It's really hard," Giancarlo says.

If a wireless access point defaulted to a secure mode, many customers wouldn't be able to get it to work, he says. "If we put it out inherently secure, wireless wouldn't work," he says. But he predicts that within months, PCs and access points will be upgraded to work better together to support secure access that can keep unauthorized neighbors from accessing home networks.

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