CEA Forms R-7 Committees to Establish Standards for Home Networking

Home networking is getting hot, and the last few months have seen numerous announcements of new technologies and proprietary standards. To help sort out the confusion, last week the Technology and Standards Department of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) said it has reorganized its standards-setting committees to "reflect the changing home-networking industry." According to the CEA, the R-7 Home Networking Committee, created in May 1999, will now oversee and coordinate the work of the integrated home systems and home automation standards committees, which previously worked within specific product categories.

The CEA says that R-7 unifies its efforts to develop home-networking standards that "facilitate communication among the appliances, home systems, entertainment products, and information devices in a home." R-7 Chairman Bill Rose explains that "R-7 is working toward an integrated home where the consumer can buy different products and have them communicate with each other by standardizing the interfaces and data protocols for signaling between different products." The CEA's Gary Shapiro adds that "this reorganization illustrates CEA's commitment to being a responsive engineering organization and reflects consumer demand for connected products."

The CEA says that the charter of R-7 is to provide coordination for and encourage cooperation among all EIA and CEA home-network standardization efforts, as well as provide a forum for other home-network standards-formulating bodies interested in working with the EIA and CEA. "The primary goal is to ensure that current and future home networks can coexist within a home and share information through the use of industry-standard interfaces."

Ralph Justus, the CEA's vice president of Technology and Standards, states that "the objective of the home data-networking Discovery Group meeting held recently was to bring together a representative sample of industry stakeholders and provide a forum to discuss the need for standards. The consensus among participants in the home data-networking Discovery Group was that R-7 should now work toward standardizing boundaries between the different home-networking systems."