Group Proposes Home-Net Guidelines


A group of 17 consumer-electronics and software providers has banded together
to bring some device of law and order to the home network.

With members including IBM Corp., Intel Corp., Microsoft Corp., Sony Corp.
and Thomson Consumer Electronics,the Digital Home Working Group will try
to come up with device-interoperability guidelines based on a slew of Internet
and multimedia standards.

From there, the group will test and certify wired and wireless devices
including TV sets, set-top boxes, mobile phones and PCs. The idea is to give
consumers products that will interoperate within a home network virtually out of
the box.

In a press conference to announce the group, representatives repeatedly
pointed to the difficulty in knitting together various devices with
home-networking systems, even though many are based on standard

"To be successful, the realization of this home network will involve
virtually all parties that make up consumer electronics," said Keiji Kimura, a
representative of the group and president of Sony's IMNC Information Technology
Co. subsidiary.

"The goal of the companies here today, including Sony, is to lead in this
important industry transition by realizing the interoperability of these devices
in the home and beyond," Kimura added.

Plans are to publish the first guideline by the end of this year, with beta
product testing following in early 2004 and commercial gear hitting the market
by the end of that year.

For now, there are no cable or network operators represented in the group,
and it is unclear how the interop guidelines might interact with the CableHome
specifications developed by Cable Television Laboratories Inc.

Other companies participating include Fujitsu Ltd., Gateway Inc.,
Hewlett-Packard Co., Kenwood Corp., Legend Group Ltd.'s Lenovo, Matsushita
Consumer Electronics (Panasonic), NEC Corp., Nokia Corp., Philips Consumer
Electronics Co., Samsung Electronics America Inc., Sharp Electronics Corp. and
STMicroelectronics N.V.