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Thomson Bows 5GHz Wireless Networking System

Berlin, Germany – Thomson used Internationale Funkausstellung (IFA) to announce plans for a wireless home-networking system based on the 5GHz wireless frequency.

Called Thomson Oz, the wireless networking system was billed as “a complete solution for the digital home networking environment,” by Mike O’Hara, Thomson worldwide sales and marketing executive VP.

Showed in prototype form, the centerpiece of Thomson Oz is a media server, that O’Hara said “provides a user-friendly interface that fits with any new architecture for ubiquitous access to applications inside and outside the home, including connection and control of home devices, deploying services, and access to content throughout the home and 5GHz wireless connectivity.”

O’Hara called the server “a gateway” that brings all entertainment and information services into the home, including DSL, broadcast TV, video on demand, Internet access, music, personal recordings and home automation demands.

Charles Dehelly, Thomson’s new CEO, said the 5GHz chipsets developed by Thomson will enable simultaneously sending several high- and standard-definition television, voice and datastreams signals.

O’Hara said Thomson Oz offers three key facets: including home access for the reception of and access of home digital content, hard-drive recording, and home networking.

“The fastest way to get content into the home will be through innovative broadband solutions, including Thomson’s line of broadband receivers and video over DSL devices,” O’Hara said. “For home networking, we’ve developed a 5GHz wireless system that is fully compliant with existing standards that enables us to develop new devices to send even high-definition programming across the home.”

In new product announcements for Europe, Thomson introduced its first DLP-based rear-projection set, and “a complete line” of Lyra MP3 music players, including the hard-drive based “portable mini server” designed to store, data, images, digital music files and MPEG 4 video. The unit is called the Thomson Lyra A/V Jukebox.

In developing the device, Dehelly said Thomson was “very concerned with content protection,” pointing to the development of the SmartRight smart-card security system, which could be applied to digital home networks.

Dehelly announced at IFA a new cooperative agreement between Thomson and Matsushita, through which Matsushita has agreed to support Thomson’s SmartRight, smart-card-based content protection system in exchange for Thomson agreeing to support the playback of DVD-RAM recordable discs in its future DVD players.

“Thomson will add DVD-RAM playback capabilities in its DVD player line in 2004,” Dehelly said. “Consumers wanting to playback recorded discs, won’t have to worry about recording formats.”

In exchange, he said “Thomson and Matsushita will jointly work on content protection technologies including SmartRight.”

However, Dehelly said Thomson’s support of DVD-RAM playback in no way diminishes the company’s support for the DVD+RW/+R disc formats, which it continues to support as a recordable format in its DVD recorders. Thomson also continues to be a member of the DVD+RW Alliance. Thomson has no plans to introduce a DVD-RAM recorder or to become a member of the newly announced DVD-RAM Promtion Group (RAMPRG) or the Recordable DVD Council (RDVDC), which supports RAM.