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March 3, 1994

CEBUS CONSUMER ELECTRONICS BUS: RIVAL TO ECHELON?

By CBR Staff Writer

Creating what looks like a comprehensive alternative to Echelon Corp’s Local Operating Network – which despite little publicity is quietly finding its way into an enormous range of applications, the US Electronic Industries Association has specified the CEBus – Consumer Electronics Bus. CEBus, also known as EIA IS-60, began as an effort of the Association’s Consumer Electronics Group to standardise infra-red remote controls for home audio and video components, evolving into a proposed standard for whole-house automation, supporting communication and control over multiple media, including twisted pair, power lines, radio frequencies, coaxial cables, and infra-red. The specification covers the physical medium and topology of the network, a layered communications protocol for message generation, and a common command language to enable devices to communicate a common set of functions. It can be set to give priority access to the CEBus network for time-critical applications, but all devices can get access to the network eventually, regardless of priority. It is not specifically intended for carrying non-control data between CEBus devices, but a data communications facility is included. The first company to stick its head above the parapet is Intellon Corp of Ocala, Florida, which claims to have components, subsystem products and development tools for CEBus and other intelligent-distributed, control applications. Intellon’s Spread Spectrum Carrier technology for radio and power line communications is specified in the CEBus spec for communication over radio frequency and power lines. The technology is already being applied in a Universal Bidirectional Interactive system being installed in Canadian homes, using a CEBus local network for energy management, security, lighting and remote reading of utility meters. In the Quebec trial, the system is to be installed in 34,000 homes in the Saguenay region next year. Videoway Communications Inc is supplying the interactive multimedia system, including Intellon power line transceivers for communication with CEBus devices in the home. Subscribers will be able to call up on their television screens exact measures of electricity usage courtesy of Hydro-Quebec. Other partners are cable operator Groupe Videotron Ltee, Loto Quebec, Can ada Post, National Bank of Canada and the Hearst Corp.

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