ERCIM News No.37 - April 1999

Heterogeneous Inhouse Networking Environment

by Dirk Elias

Starting with a kick-off meeting on 13 January 1999, the EURESCOM project P915 has been established. Main goal of the project is to establish a pan-european demonstrator for a heterogeneous inhouse networking environment. Although the demonstrator will be distributed over Europe, it will be accessible over the EURESCOM web server ( The availability of new broadband access network technologies forces the European telcos to think about existing and future inhouse networks and communication applications for residential customers to meet their demands and to provide new services.

Partners of the project are British Telecom, CSELT, Deutsche Telekom Berkom, France Telecom, Swisscom, Telefonica and Telenor. GMD Institute for Open Communication Systems is participating in the project for Deutsche Telekom Berkom.

Due to the increasing use of the ATM technology (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) as well as major enhancements of various forms of the Digital Subscriber Line (xDSL), the commercial introduction of integrated broadband services for the home and office environment is about to start. Although there is a clear view of the architecture of and supported services within access networks (AN) today, the integration of heterogeneous customer premises networks (CPN) and the related spectrum of application scenarios has not been researched sufficiently until now. A minor part of the work proposed by this Project is currently being discussed under the term SOHO (Small Office Home Office) networking technology.

The project HINE - Heterogeneous Inhouse Networking Environment - aims to investigate the basis for the use of a broad range of applications in a completely heterogeneous in-house networking environment as well as their integration, based on a CORBA platform (Common Object Request Broker Architecture), into public networks (Internet) via broadband access networks. Considered in-house networks will be Narrowband Integrated Services Digital Network (NISDN), Ethernet and ATM (Intranet) as well as networks for entertainment, automation and control applications (Infranet). Especially these Infranetworks may lead to a paradigm shift from traditional end systems like personal computers, telephones or fax systems as the mayor source of traffic (and business) to stand-alone or integrated micro-/nano-communicators in a home or office environment. To these networks various transmission technologies can be applied. Besides existing copper (telephony, power line, coax) infrastructures, new transmission technologies (wired & wireless, optical & electrical) have to be analysed for their suitability.

The direction of the HINE research activities is the extension of the ATM technology from a mainly public network operators’ oriented exploitation towards new areas of operation and the seamless integration of already existing infrastructure for the provision of a global, ubiquitous communication environment.

Target environments today are mainly in the in-house, business and home area with wireline and wireless systems, including those, which have generally been out of the scope of global communication scenarios until today. In addition to ‘classical’ customer premesis equipment (telephone, fax, personal computers, etc.), today one is surrounded by a huge amount of microelectronic controlled equipment (stereo/video products, home theatre, white goods, light control, burglar alarm, person identification/location systems, etc.). Today most of these systems are stand-alone by the means of forming small, not interconnected and proprietary islands.

Including theses devices in an integrated communication environment using existing or easy-to-install networks (power-line, wireless, plastic optical fiber, etc.) will allow major enhancements to existing and the creation of completely new applications and services. There already appears to be a number of chip design companies and manufacturers developing single chip low cost solutions for connecting consumer devices to the Internet. The driving force for this development is unclear, but it may come from several directions. One example could be that competition amongst manufacturers may become so great that keeping contact with their products and customers becomes imperative.

Please contact:

Dirk Elias - GMD
Tel: +49 30 3463 7342

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