TCP/IP and Whole-House Audio
NetStreams says their time has come to team up
By Joe Paone
The fruits of Internet-based standards and the lessons learned by the companies that used them for data networking may likely soon be replicated by whole-house A/V installers.
Once upon a time, corporate data networks were based on proprietary protocols, with employees logging onto centralized mainframe computers via monochrome dumb terminals. While the systems were secure, they were expensive to build and maintain and offered limited functionality and choice.
By the late 1990s, as American homes plugged their PCs into the global Internet, most companies caught the fever too, replacing proprietary protocols on their networks with open Internet-friendly standards like TCP/IP, Ethernet and HTML. This enabled them to replace pricey mainframes with cheap PC superservers, dumb terminals with Windows machines, and highly paid mainframe programmers with Internet-obsessed kids fresh out of college.
Similarly, home networks have been using Ethernet, WiFi and TCP/IP for some time for Internet connection sharing, print jobs and more. Now a company called NetStreams is looking to extend those standards to whole-house audio, and in the near future, whole-house high-definition video distribution.
NetStreams, which will turn two years old this summer, is not your average start-up. It grew out of a thinktank project founded by General Electric, Microsoft and SMART called the Connected Home Initiative. NetStreams spun out of SMART armed with the initiative's intellectual property concerning distributed entertainment and control systems. "There was a tremendous amount of R&D put into this, millions of dollars invested and thousands of man-hours," says NetStreams Vice President of Sales and Marketing Buzz Goddard. "We got off to a running start."
The new company located to Austin, Texas, an area rich in networking resources, and has since established regional offices in Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Florida.