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September 29, 1998


By CBR Staff Writer

Sunnyvale, California-based start-up Epigram Inc is preparing to enter the home networking market in competition with Microsoft Corp-backed Tut Systems Inc, which until now has had the fast growing market all to itself. Three year-old Epigram is working on delivering voice, video and data over existing inside telephone wires at 10 megabits per second or beyond – ten times the current speed of Tut’s technology. Like Tut, Epigram was a founder member of the Home Phoneline Networking Alliance, and says it will be helping other HomePNA companies deliver networked home products. Tut Systems Inc has something of a lead here, and already has the backing of Microsoft and Compaq Computer Corp for its 1 Mbps technology, which has been included in the HomePNA’s 1.0 specification, expected to be finalized shortly. But Epigram says its faster technology, comparable to Ethernet in corporate environments, will be submitted to version 2.0 of the spec, expected in 1999. Epigram is currently demonstrating its networking technology, holding field tests in preparation for a market entry for both silicon and software by the first quarter of next year. The likely applications for its software are shared internet access, shared peripherals, networked cable or DSS digital satellite system through standard phone lines, and multi-user gaming. Epigram executives include technology co-founders Ed Frank and Jack Holloway. Executive VP Frank was a co-founder of NeTpower Inc, and before that one of the principals on the Green team at Sun Microsystems, from which Java emerged. Chief technology officer Holloway came from Microunity Systems Engineering Inc’s digital cable media unit, and led ATM development at BBN Corp. CEO and president Jeff Thermond, comes from 3Com Corp. Forrester Research figures estimate that more than $1bn will be spent on home networks by 2002, and other research puts the number of homes worldwide with multiple PCs at over 14 million. There are around 45 million dial-up internet users, and two thirds of new PC sales are to homes with an existing computer.

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