Sharp and Sony have completed development of an IEEE 1394 (FireWire or I-Link) based optical-fibre home-networking system and will shortly begin licensing the technology.

The new system, called "OP i.Link", is compatible with the existing IEEE 1394 communications protocol, which uses metallic cables. Like the existing system, it is intended to be used to network home-electronics devices and appliances, and carry video, audio or data between them.

Sharp and Sony's new system is based on single-core plastic optical fibre, can use a laser or LED (light emitting diode) as the light source, has a transmission distance of between 60 centimetres and 10 metres and a maximum data speed of 100Mbps. The second version of the system will be able to handle data at rates of up to 400Mbps, the companies said.

Licensing of the technology will begin from April 2.