|This article needs additional citations for verification. (November 2013)|
A home network or home area network (HAN) is a type of local area network that develops from the need to facilitate communication and interoperability among digital devices present inside or within the close vicinity of a home. Devices capable of participating in this network–smart devices such as network printers and handheld mobile computers–often gain enhanced emergent capabilities through their ability to interact. These additional capabilities can then be used to increase the quality of life inside the home in a variety of ways, such as automation of repetitious tasks, increased personal productivity, enhanced home security, and easier access to entertainment.
- 1 Causes
- 2 Transmission Media
- 3 Infrastructure
- 4 Endpoint devices and services
- 5 Network Management
- 6 Common Infrastructure Issues
- 7 Future
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
One of the main factors that has historically led to the establishment of a HAN is the out-of-box inability to share residential Internet access among all internet capable devices in the home. Due to the effect of IPv4 address exhaustion, most Internet Service Providers provide only one WAN-facing IP address for each residential subscription. Therefore most homes require some sort of device that acts as a liaison capable of network address translation (NAT) of packets travelling across the WAN-HAN boundary. Even while the router's role can be performed by any commodity Personal Computer with an array of Network Interface Cards, most new HAN administrators still choose to utilize a particular class of small, passively-cooled, table-top devices which also provide the wireless access point functionality necessary to access the HAN via Wi-Fi–a virtual necessity for the multitude of wireless mobile-optimized devices focused around internet content consumption. The kinds of routers marketed towards HAN administrators attempt to absorb as many duties as possible from other network infrastructure devices while at the same time striving to make any configuration as automated, user friendly, and "plug-and-play" as possible.
Home networks can use either wired or wireless technologies to achieve full connectivity. Home networking may use
- Ethernet Category 5 cable, Category 6 cable - for speeds of 10 Mbit/s, 100 Mbit/s, 1 Gbit/s, or 10Gbit/s.
- Wi-Fi Wireless LAN connections - for speeds up to 450 Mbit/s, dependent on signal strength and wireless standard.
- Coaxial cables (TV antennas) - for speeds of 270 Mbit/s (see Multimedia over Coax Alliance or 320 Mbit/s see HomePNA)
- Electrical wiring - for speeds of 14 Mbit/s to 200 Mbit/s (see Power line communication)
- Phone wiring - for speeds of 160 Mbit/s (see HomePNA)
- Fiber optics - although rare, new homes are beginning to include fiber optics for future use. Optical networks generally use Ethernet.
- All home wiring (coax, powerline and phone wires) - future standard for speeds up to 1 Gbit/s being developed by the ITU-T (see G.hn)
Twisted pair cables
Most wired network infrastructures found in homes currently utilize some form of category 5 or category 6 twisted pair cabling with RJ45 compatible terminations. This type of medium provides physical connectivity between the Ethernet interfaces present on a large number of residential IP-aware devices.
One of the most common ways of creating a home network is by using wireless radio signal technology; the 802.11 network as certified by the IEEE. Most products that are wireless-capable operate at a frequency of 2.4 GHz under 802.11b and 802.11g or 5 GHz under 802.11a. Some home networking devices operate in both radio-band signals and fall within the standard 802.11n.
A wireless network can be used for communication between many electronic devices, to connect to the Internet or to wired networks that use Ethernet technology. Wi-Fi is a marketing and compliance certification for IEEE 802.11 technologies. The WiFi Alliance has tested compliant products certifies them for interoperability. பரக
Existing home wiring
As an alternative to wireless networking or additional network cable installation, the existing home wiring (coax in North America, telephone wiring in multi dwelling units (MDU) and power-line in Europe and USA) can be used as a network medium. With the installation of a home networking device, the network can be accessed by simply plugging the Computer into a wall socket.
The ITU-T G.hn and IEEE Powerline standard, which provide high-speed (up to 1 Gbit/s) local area networking over existing home wiring, are examples of home networking technology designed specifically for IPTV delivery. Recently, the IEEE passed proposal P1901 which grounded a standard within the Market for wireline products produced and sold by companies that are part of the HomePlug Alliance. The IEEE is continuously working to push for P1901 to be completely recognized worldwide as the sole standard for all future products that are produced for Home Networking.
- A modem for connection to an Internet access service (either a DSL modem using the phone line, or cable modem using the cable internet connection).
- A residential gateway (sometimes called a broadband router) connected between the broadband modem and the rest of the network. This enables multiple devices to connect to the internet simultaneously. Residential gateways, hubs/switches, DSL modems, and wireless access points are often combined.
- A wireless access point, usually implemented as a feature rather than a separate box, for connecting wireless devices
- A network bridge connecting two network interfaces together, often in order to grant a wired-only device, e.g. Xbox, access to a wireless network medium
- A network hub/switch - a central networking hub containing a number of Ethernet ports for connecting multiple networked devices
Endpoint devices and services
- Personal computers such as desktops, laptops, netbooks, and tablets
- A network attached storage (NAS) device can be easily accessed via the CIFS or NFS protocols for general storage or for backup purposes.
- A print server can be used to share any directly connected printers with other computers on the network.
- IP Phones or Smartphones (when connected via Wi-Fi) utilizing VoIP technologies
- Television: Some new TVs and DVRs include integrated WiFi connectivity which allows the user to access services such as Netflix and YouTube
- Home audio: Digital audio players, and stereo systems with network connectivity can allow a user to easily access their music library, often using Bonjour to discover and interface with an instance of iTunes running on a remote PC.
- Gaming: video game consoles rely on connectivity to the home network to enable a significant portion of their overall features, such as the multiplayer in games, social network integration, ability to purchase or demo new games, and receive software updates. Recent consoles have begun more aggressively pursuing the role of the sole entertainment and media hub of the home.
- DLNA is a common protocol used for interoperability between networked media-centric devices in the home
Some older devices may not feature the appropriate network interfaces required for home network connectivity. In some situations, USB dongles and PCI Network Interface Cards are available as accessories that enable this functionality.
Due to the lowering cost of computing and the ubiquity of smartphone usage, many traditionally non-networked home equipment categories have begun seeing new variants capable of control or remote monitoring through an app on a smartphone. Newer startups and established home equipment manufacturers alike have begun to offer these products as part of a "Smart" or "Intelligent" or "Connected Home" portfolio. These are usually only accessible through proprietary smartphone applications used to control or remotely monitor the equipment.
- HVAC: Nest Thermostat
- Smoke/CO Detectors: Nest Smoke + CO Alarm
- Garage Door Openers: Liftmaster MyQ
- Lighting: Phillips Hue
- Wireless On/Off Switches:
Instead of selling discrete products, some service providers have begun offering complete and externally managed home automation and home security solutions that lease networked systems of devices and couple them with externally managed service.
- Time Warner Cable IntelligentHome
- AT&T DigitalLife
- Comcast Xfinity Home
Most small embedded home network devices require remote configuration from a PC on the same network. For example, broadband modems are often configured through a web browser running on a PC in the same network. These devices usually use a minimal Linux distribution with a lightweight HTTP server running in the background to allow the user to conveniently modify system variables from a GUI rendered in their browser. These pages use HTML forms extensively and make attempts to offer styled, visually appealing views that are also descriptive and easy to use.
For HAN users, Microsoft offers simple access control features built into their Windows Operating System. Homegroup is a feature that allows shared disk access, shared printer access and shared scanner access among all computers and users (typically family members) in a home, in a similar fashion as in a small office workgroup, e.g., by means of distributed peer-to-peer networking (without a central server). Additionally, a home server may be added for increased functionality.
A Windows HomeGroup is a new feature in Microsoft Windows 7 that simplifies file sharing. All users (typically all family members), except guest accounts, may access any shared library on any computer that is connected to the home group. Passwords are not required from the family members during logon. Instead, secure file sharing is possible by means of a temporary password that is used when adding a computer to the HomeGroup.
Common Infrastructure Issues
Wireless signal loss
The wireless signal strength of the standard residential wireless router may not be powerful enough to cover the entire house or may not be able to get through to all floors of multiple floor residences. In such situations, the installation of one or more Wireless Repeaters may be necessary
WiFi often extends beyond the boundaries of a home and can create coverage where it is least wanted, allowing a way for people to compromise a system and retrieve personal data. The usual way to combat this is by the use of authentication, encryption, or VPN that requires a password to access the WiFi.
However new Wi-Fi standards working at 60 GHz, such as 802.11ad, enable confidence that the LAN will not trespass physical barriers, as at such frequencies a simple wall attenuates the signal considerably.
Electrical grid noise
For home networks relying on powerline communication technology, how to deal with electrical noise injected into the system from standard household appliances remains the largest challenge. Whenever any appliance is turned on or turned off it creates noise that could possibly disrupt data transfer through the wiring. IEEE products that are certified to be HomePlug 1.0 compliant have been engineered to no longer interfere with, or receive interference from other devices plugged into the same home's electrical grid.
- Cloud computing has successfully abstracted away even the most simple of network infrastructure concepts from the average home user. Home-dwellers without interest or experience in IT often find it more convenient to migrate assets to an externally managed infrastructure.
- There is an increasing trend of home-dwellers opting for Service Providers' "triple play" solutions which are usually bundled with Gateway/Router/WiFi combination devices that require nothing but the setting of a password to complete configuration. In such situations the home-dweller no longer requires the purchase of an additional routing device to distribute internet access throughout the home--It also obviates the need for the home-dweller having even the most basic understanding of networking technology.
- The recent intense competition brewing between the major Service Providers over the "Connected Home" market of the Internet of Things suggests the possibility that the concept of a "Home Network"--a network distinct from the outside world and managed by the home-dweller--might dissolve over time as complete "Smart Home" solution offerings become more and more appealing to the average consumer who does not always have the time, patience, knowledge, or interest in the extra IT activities required to make the various devices in the home talk to one another.
- “Discover and Learn,” WiFi Alliance, http://www.wi-fi.org/discover_and_learn.php (accessed June 30, 2010).
- Faure, Jean-Philippe. “IEEE P1901 Draft Standard for Broadband over Power Line Networks: Medium Access Control and Physical Layer Specifications,” IEEE Standards Association, http://grouper.ieee.org/groups/1901/ (accessed June 22, 2010).
- Greg Holden, Lawrence C. Miller, Home Networking Do-It-Yourself for Dummies, John Wiley and Sons, 2011.
- Wangerien, Brian. "The Challenges of Wi-Fi." Communications News. Encyclopædia Britannica. Web http://www.britannica.com/bps/additionalcontent/18/21597846/The-challenges-of-WiFi.
- “Frequently Asked Questions,” HomePlug Powerline Alliance, http://www.homeplug.org/about/faqs/ (accessed June 22, 2010).