The convergence between computers and consumer electronics devices continues with news of eight companies' plans to develop technology that allows multimedia content to be sent around the home over standard TV antenna cabling.

The companies are coming together within the Multimedia Over Coax Alliance (MoCA), the formation of which will be announced later, said Matsushita Electric Industrial (aka Panasonic). Panasonic is the world's largest consumer electronics company and one of the founding members of MoCA.

Other companies include Toshiba, Cisco, Comcast, Echostar Satellite, Entropic Communications, Motorola and RadioShack.

Together they hope to develop a system that will be capable of delivering DVD-quality video throughout the home over existing coaxial cable. Such cabling already exists around the home because it is used to deliver TV signals from an antenna or cable TV connection.

Speed boost

Few technical details have been disclosed, however the companies say it will support transmission of digital data at speeds of up to 270Mbps, and is approaching the 400Mbps offered by FireWire, although over a much shorter range.

The group will also work on developing wireless access points that can be used to extend coverage to rooms where cabling does not exist, they said.

The system will also have a quality of service (QoS) function thst could allow time-sensitive data such as real-time video to get priority over less-sensitive data such as electronic program-guide data or email. Connections will be made using the standard "F" plug already used for TV antenna connectors.

The announcement of MoCA comes days before the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is due to begin in Las Vegas. This year's CES is expected to provide a stage for a growing number of home-electronics devices that can be interconnected digitally.

The companies backing MoCA are betting that their system will find favour among consumers because it uses the standard coaxial cable.