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IBM and National Semi announce home gateway

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DQW Bureau
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IBM and National Semiconductor said this week their teaming up on developing a home gateway device that will let

consumers to remotely control and operate household appliances such as lights, security systems, ovens,

refrigerators, utility meters, air conditioners, furnaces, and entertainment systems.

The gateway will be available for sale to OEMs in another six weeks. OEMs will likely sell the systems to cable TV operators and others, to offer the

hardware as part of a series of new services they will offer their customers.

The IBM/NS gateway will compete with a similar product announced recently by Intel and the Comcast cable TV firm.


Industry analysts said that the home gateway has the potential of vastly expanding the electronic infrastructure found in most homes. But consumers

have so far reacted lukewarm to the devices, as most have little apprehension of how to set up home networks or felt a need to remotely control some of 

their home appliances.

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Network equipment market leader Cisco Systems, for example announced plans for a home gateway device a year ago, but later shelved the program for lack of consumers interest. Cisco is still discussing with cable companies what

type of device would meet their requirements, but no decision has been made.

Part of the problem is that fewer than 10 percent of US households have the necessary broadband Internet connection.

The slow adoption of broadband access this week prompted Andy Grove, Chairman, Intel to call on the US government to relax regulations on high-speed Internet access. Grove told an audience in a speech before the Progressive Policy Institute, a Democratic think-tank, that a 1996 law that encourages competition in local telecommunications markets had failed to bring widespread broadband to US consumers.

Grove said the regional Baby Bells should be allowed to dominate the broadband access market as they are in the best

position to deliver the services in the short term. To date, there have been too few financial

incentives for them to get into broadband services. "It is time for a new approach in which telecom incumbents that have emerged strongest in this 


battle should be allowed to invest with the fair expectation of making a lot of money," Grove said.

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