Pioneer to Debut Home-Net Gateway

Pioneer Electronics Corp. will introduce a home-networking gateway device at this week's National Show that melds a Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification 1.1/1.0 modem with a router firewall gateway and a wireless base station.

"Our objective in producing this broadband gateway device is to take the high burden of cost that is often associated with wired and wireless home networking, and put it into a standalone device that can seamlessly integrate three working units into a single cost-effective design," said Pioneer Cable & Communications Group vice president Mark Gurvey.

The three items — cable modem, router and wireless base station — would sell for a total of about $369 at retail, said Gurvey. He believes MSOs would sell the package at $299, if they chose that route, he said.

Several of the top-five MSOs have expressed interest in purchasing the three-in-one device, said Gurvey.

The move also puts Pioneer into the cable-modem sphere. "We are outsourcing the components, but we're in certification testing now for DOCSIS 1.0 and 1.1," Gurvey said. He hopes to gain Cable Television Laboratories Inc. certification by the end of June, conduct field tests by July and be ready for volume shipments in August.

Broadcom Corp. will build the chipset for the 802.11b-compliant wireless home base station, Gurvey said. The device can connect to an Ethernet port and includes 40/128 bit encryption technology.

MSOs are keenly interested in home networking, but unsure how to proceed. Under one model, operators would sell home-networking gear, then perhaps charge a monthly maintenance fee, or charge by IP address.

A second option would be to lease the home-networking setup to subscribers, as Time Warner Cable does. Since modems typically lease for $5 a month, Gurvey said, MSOs could charge between $12 and $15 a month for Pioneer's home-networking device.

Also at the National Show, Pioneer will debut a Voyager 3511HD high-definition television set-top box. It includes up to 32 megabits of SDRAM memory and a built-in Advanced Television Systems Committee digital decoder with video outputs that can pass 1080i signals.

Pioneer plans to ship the set-top in late 2002. It estimates that embedding HDTV functionality into set-tops raises the cost of the units by about $80.