Wireless Home Network Standard in Development
Feb 16, 2004
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The Public Management Ministry has announced that it is establishing a panel charged with creating a standardized data transmission protocol for digital home appliances with the aim of making devices from different manufacturers interoperable.

The introduction of the envisioned standard is intended to give rise to standardized global home networking software specifications for digital products. Making products interoperable would allow consumers to purchase products without having to worry about differences between manufacturers and would improve the products' ease of use.

Currently, seven major groupings of companies in Japan and overseas each have their own transmission standards, preventing their products from being compatible with those from other groupings.

The panel, which held its first meeting Feb. 13, is composed of 28 researchers and experts from home appliance producers and telecommunications companies. It plans to determine by June which data transmission specification should be selected for the new standard, among other matters, and to submit a proposal regarding the protocol in November to the International Telecommunication Union, the United Nations (U.N.) agency responsible for coordinating global telecommunication networks and services.

A networking system operates home appliances connected wirelessly -- including personal computers, televisions, and digital video disk (DVD) recorders -- allowing the user to record programs or send and receive images and audio data freely from afar by linking their mobile phone to the network. Appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines also could be connected to the home network in the future.

The Ministry has decided on a plan to allocate exclusive frequencies for such digital home appliances, with related industries expected to expand swiftly.

However, the issue of telecommunications standards poses a problem, with major powers in the field using disparate standards for their products. For example, there are discrepancies between the standards used by the Econet Consortium, which includes Sharp Corp. and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., which makes Panasonic products, the HAVi Organization, which includes Toshiba Corp. and Hitachi Ltd., and the Digital Home Working Group, which includes Sony Corp. and Intel Corp.

Most recently, NTT Communications Corp. was among several companies that established a forum whose standards were not compatible with rival groupings.

The panel plans to promote the creation of new standards while working hand in hand with the various blocs to enhance global competitiveness. (The Yomiuri Shimbun)

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