Companies to develop home broadband network system

Companies to develop home broadband network system

Eight companies, including some of the largest names in electronics, are planning to jointly develop technology that allows multimedia content to be sent around the home over standard TV antenna cabling.

The companies are coming together under the Multimedia Over Coax Alliance (MoCA), formation of which will be announced later Monday, said Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. The Japanese company, better known by its Panasonic brand name, is the world's largest consumer electronics company and one of the founding members of MoCA.

Other companies include Toshiba Corp., computer networking company Cisco Systems Inc., cable TV network operator Comcast Corp., direct-to-home satellite provider Echostar Satellite Corp., semiconductor company Entropic Communications Inc., Motorola Inc. and RadioShack Corp.

Together they hope to develop a system that will be capable of delivering DVD-quality video throughout the home over existing coaxial cable. Such cabling is already present in many rooms around the home because it is used to deliver TV signals from an antenna or cable TV connection.

Few technical details of the system have been disclosed however the companies say it will support transmission of digital data at speeds of up to 270M bps (bits per second). That's several times faster than Wi-Fi wireless Internet connections, the IEEE802.11a version of which run as fast as 54M bps, and approaching the 400M bps offered by IEEE1394 Firewire although over a much shorter range.

The group will also work on developing wireless access points that can be used to extend coverage to rooms where cabling does not exist, they said.

The system will also have a quality of service (QoS) function, which could allow time-sensitive data such as real-time video to get priority over less sensitive data such as electronic program guide data or e-mail. Connections will be made using the standard "F" plug already used for TV antenna connectors.

Announcement of MoCA comes days before the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is due to begin in Las Vegas. This year's CES is expected to provide a stage for a growing number of home electronics devices that can be interconnected digitally.

There are several other networking standards, among them Ethernet and IEEE1394, that have been touted as conduits to transfer broadband and multimedia data between devices in the home however all require the laying of additional cable. The companies backing MoCA are betting that their system will find favor among consumers because it uses the standard coaxial cable.

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