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DVD-quality video via TV antenna

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 Moca (the Multimedia Over Coax Alliance), the formation of which will be announced later today, said Matsushita Electric. 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, computer networking company Cisco Systems, cable TV network operator Comcast, direct-to-home satellite provider Echostar Satellite, semiconductor company Entropic Communications, Motorola and RadioShack.

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 270Mbps (megabits per second). That's several times faster than Wi-Fi wireless internet connections, the IEEE 802.11a version of which run as fast as 54Mbps, and approaching the 400Mbps offered by IEEE 1394 FireWire although over a much shorter range.

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

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 email. Connections will be made via the standard 'F' plug already used for TV antenna connectors.

The announcement of Moca comes days before CES (the Consumer Electronics Show) 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 IEEE 1394, that have been touted as conduits to transfer broadband and multimedia data between devices in the home. All, however, require the laying of additional cable. The companies backing Moca are betting that their system will find favour among consumers because it uses standard coaxial cable.


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