Mobile Carriers Left Out of Home Automation Party

Amazon, Apple and Google, along with the Zigbee Alliance, have started a new working group to develop a royalty-free connectivity standard to increase compatibility among the various smart home devices from Amazon and others.

Despite the multitude of companies involved in this Connected Home over IP project, it doesn't include any mobile operators.

Companies involved include IKEA, Legrand, NXP Semiconductors, Resideo, Samsung SmartThings, Schneider Electric, Signify (formerly Philips Lighting), Silicon Labs, Somfy and Wulian, as well as the major connected home players.

"By building upon Internet Protocol (IP), the project aims to enable communication across smart home devices, mobile apps, and cloud services, and to define a specific set of IP-based networking technologies for device certification," reports a joint statement on the project.

The working group says it will launch a preliminary specification in late 2020. This spec "aims to make it easier for device manufacturers to build devices that are compatible with smart home and voice services such as Amazon's Alexa, Apple's Siri, Google's Assistant, and others," says the consortium. The forthcoming protocol will work across multiple networks, such as WiFi, Bluetooth Low Energy and cellular.

The project is a rare moment of agreement for three of the top tech companies in the world. The working group deal is especially unusual for Apple and Google, which appear to be putting aside years of heated competition to create this smart device standard.

At present, however, it appears that there will be no mobile operators involved in crafting this smart device protocol. Major carriers, like AT&T, have certainly taken part in their own connected home efforts, but are not involved in this effort.

AT&T appears to be working to somewhat similar aims through its project with ex-Microsoft man Ray Ozzie and his startup Blue Wireless. "Notecard will enable developers of a broad range of commercial and industrial products to embed connectivity that just works, near globally," says AT&T of its work with the startup.

The carrier, as well as many operators in the smart home and IoT areas, is still focused on delivering purely cellular connectivity and doesn't deal in the IP layer, as the tech giants' latest project does.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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