Alliance Seeks Standard for Wired Home Networks

Chip and electronics makers Intel (NASDAQ: INTC), Infineon, Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN) and Panasonic have formed an alliance to promote home networks for movies, music and pictures using domestic wiring.

The four leading chip and electronics makers will help market and test a standard to wire together computers, TVs and entertainment systems using electricity, phone and coaxial cable lines that already exist in most homes, they said on Tuesday.

They hope the first products using the new standard will be on the market in about a year.

Consumer electronics and computer makers have long talked of the so-called digital home, in which entertainment appliances and PCs are linked and typically controlled from the computer, making it easy to share digital media content between devices.

But a lack of common standards between makers of these devices has held back progress.

A common wireless standard to link home devices using Wi-Fi already exists. Wired networks often have the advantage of being more stable and having more capacity, and the building blocks for the infrastructure already exist in most homes.

“Power line is the most ubiquitous technology in the world. You have power lines to almost every house in the world,” Intel’s Matt Theall, president of the new HomeGrid Forum ( said on a conference call.

“There’s a huge market potentially for this type of technology. It can be embedded in DVD players, TVs, PCs, speakers — any home entertainment device.”

The four leading members of the HomeGrid Forum said they would work with the International Telecommunications Union to promote, test and contribute to a standard the ITU is already working on, called ITU-T

Their role will be similar to that played by the Wi-Fi Alliance, which helped promote an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) wireless standard and has certified thousands of products for wireless local area networks (WLANs).

The HomeGrid Forum has seven other founding members: Aware (NASDAQ: AWRE), DS2, Pulse Link, Ikanos (NASDAQ: IKAN), Sigma Designs (NASDAQ: SIGM) Westell Technologies (NASDAQ: WSTL) and Gigle Semiconductor.

Intel, Infineon (NYSE: IFX), Texas Instruments and Panasonic — who will serve on the board of directors — said they were recruiting additional members among chipmakers, service providers and makers of consumer electronics and personal computers.

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