Siemens is planning to partner with its customers in the electricity industry to offer voice and data services over power lines for consumers.
Using the electricity infrastructure to deliver communications traffic is a recent and potentially lucrative innovation, but the industry will be watching closely to see if Siemens has taken on a project too ambitious and too unproven. A similar effort launched in 1997 by Nortel and Norweb in the UK has yet to find its footing.
Speaking at a showcase event in Berlin today, head of Siemens'Information and Communications business, Volker Jung, told reporters that electricity cables were a ready made access into customers' homes to provide cheap and easy to manage communications links.
"In the past, power grids have been used by networks to carry communications cables. The next step will be to use power lines to carry voice and data," said Volker.
"It's far too expensive to lay fibre to each house. We're developing a solution that can create power line communications," he said.
Siemens said it will draw on the resources of its own Energy division as well as its Information and Communications business. Further development of the system would require a partnership with one or more energy companies, Volker said.
Using electricity cables to carry voice and data fits in with Siemens' work on creating what it calls a Smart Home, where all household appliances are connected to a phone line and can be accessed and controlled remotely.
Siemens will be showing off its Residential Gateway product at next month's Cebit exhibition. This is a telephone interface that connects household appliances to the telephone network.
A demonstration of Residential Gateway here today showed a hot water system malfunctioning and phoning its owner to report the fault. Using the phone keypad, the user was able to switch off the system and prevent it from flooding.
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