Firms Form Alliance To Bring Powerline Nets To Homes

A group of large Japanese consumer electronics firms is promoting the establishment of home powerline networks that would connect devices such as DVD players, PCs, digital cameras, televisions, and IP

June 2, 2005

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A group of large Japanese electronics firms has established an alliance to promote the establishment of home powerline networks. The networks would connect consumer devices in the home including DVD players, PCs, digital cameras, televisions, and IP phones. The alliance intends to use existing electrical wiring in homes.

Announced Thursday, the Consumer Electronics Powerline Communications Alliance (CEPCA), is aiming to attract U.S. firms to join the not-for-profit organization.

"They want to start here in the U.S. and take it worldwide," said Will Safer, speaking for CEPCA. "This is about the creation of a standard." Safer, a spokesman for Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. (Panasonic), said CEPCA wants the standard to pave the way for existing and future products to communicate with each other.

The planned standard would be submitted to the IEEE, he added.

In addition to Matsushita, the firms forming the alliance include Mitsubishi Electric Corp., Sony Corp., Hitachi Ltd., Pioneer Corp. Sanyo Electric, Toshiba Corp., and Yamaha Corp. CEPCA was founded initially in January by Matsushita, Mitsubishi, and Sony.A CEPCA release stated that the alliance will hold its "kick-off meeting" in July in the San Francisco Bay Area. An office will be established in Oregon. The organization plans to work with existing powerline communication groups to develop common standards.

At least two levels of participation in CEPCA will be established with details to be released later.

"As a manufacturer ready to use available PLC technologies in its CE products, Panasonic welcomes a consortium that will help ensure these technologies work in customers' homes," said Paul Liao, president of Panasonic Research and Development Corp. of America, in a statement. "CEPCA's co-existence specification will become essential as more power companies provide broadband access to homes already using PLC networks."

Safer said CEPCA will seek to develop a PLC specification draft in the fourth quarter of 2005 with products including chipsets planned to appear in the spring of 2006. "The goal is not to compete but to get a standard," he added.

Powerline standards for home use have been proposed before. Safer noted that Panasonic demonstrated communications between televisions and plasma TVs at trade shows several months ago.0

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