LG supplies complete digital home networks

South Korea's LG Electronics has a quick solution to overcome the challenge of device interoperability in the emerging digital home networking market: supply everything from one source.

The home networking division of the Korean manufacturing conglomerate is deploying complete home networks for entertainment, utilities management, security and more in two large housing projects in Seoul and in Shenzhen, China, said Park Hyun, vice president and research fellow of LG's home network division, speaking Wednesday in Berlin at the e/home conference and exhibition. "We expect to have more than 10,000 homes contracted by the end of this year," he said.

More than 100 devices, including PCs, DVD players and digital TVs as well as refrigerators, washing machines, lights and security videos, can exchange information with each other using LG's HomNet technology, according to Hyun.

Hyun said LG's home network deployments were among the largest in the world.

Interoperability is ensured because all the networking technology and nearly all the devices come from one source -- LG, he said.

The technology is being deployed in new housing units in densely populated areas with high broadband penetration, according to Hyun. "There is a lot of new housing construction in South Korea and China, and broadband penetration, especially in South Korea, is among the highest in the world, " he said. "Broadband is essential for home networks, and contractors are advertising home networking as a means to attract buyers or renters to their new housing complexes."

While Hyun conceded that there is a need for all devices to be interoperable and that his own company is working on this issue, he said HomNet is a technology that is available today and can help spur interest in home networking.

Another vendor highlighted the tension between manufacturers' and customers' needs.

"Most manufacturers are interested in pushing their own products; that's the nature of business," said Ralf Schaefer, project manager of IP video solutions in the research and development division of Thomson. "But most consumers don't want to be squeezed into a box; they want to be able to choose products freely. And this requires interoperability, which is definitely coming."

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