Alliance to home in on household networking

The Internet Home Alliance, uniting companies such as Cisco, Best Buy and General Motors, aims to help consumers connect computers and electronic devices throughout the home.

Home is where the network is--or will be, judging by the aspirations of a new group that brings together a host of high-tech and retail companies.

As first reported by CNET, the Internet Home Alliance, formed by Cisco Systems, Best Buy, General Motors, Panasonic, Sun Microsystems and others, will expound on the benefits to consumers of connecting their computers and other electronic devices to the Net.

The alliance is promoting an "Internet lifestyle" that thrives on high-speed, always-on Net access throughout the home, Cisco said in an announcement Wednesday. As the technology becomes mainstream and the availability of broadband increases, Cisco said it will benefit from consumers' need to connect computers, telephones, smart appliances, and home heating, cooling and security systems.

With high-speed Net connections becoming more widespread, technology companies believe that consumers will want all of their electronic devices to communicate and share a Net connection. That capacity would allow homeowners to perform tasks such as adjusting the temperature in a room from a PC, watching security-camera surveillance of their home over a Web browser, and distributing audio or video throughout the home.

"The Alliance will work with all members of the industry, from service and content providers to home integrators and developers, to accelerate parallel industry growth," Mike Moone, group vice president and general manager of Cisco's consumer business line, said in a statement. "This will allow the industry to quickly deliver Internet lifestyle solutions that add value to consumers' lives."

Other members of the alliance include 3Com, CompUSA, Honeywell, Invensys, Motorola, New Power, Reliant Energy, Texas Instruments and Sears Roebuck. The companies plan to work together to define the building blocks of the home networking industry and minimize barriers inhibiting the mass adoption of the Internet lifestyle.

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