Homes no longer need to be riddled with cables, nor do we need to grapple with complex devices anymore as a European research project has developed a pioneering solution to manage our telecom needs. EnComPas-2 is a project developed through the EUREKA initiative.

Our homes and cars are packed with sophisticated electronic gadgets: from mobile phones and laptops to video games, MP3s and WiFi routers.

“Users have got more and more applications but the majority of them don’t have that much technical knowledge,” says ValentAlonso Alvarez, who coordinated the EnComPas2 project.

The project developed a solution to make it easier for ordinary people to install and run multiple gadgets.

“But what has never been done before is to use all those different technical standards to provide an integrated platform to manage it all,” says Alvarez.

The platform is an underlying computer system based at the telecom operator’s exchange which allows the technician to manage the home network without having to visit it in person. The technician can detect appliances and configure new services remotely, cutting the operator’s costs and improving customer satisfaction.

Alvarez, who heads projects at Spain’s telecoms provider Telefonica, says the struggle to connect new applications to an existing network in the home can often be a problem for operators as well as their customers.

After signing up Ikerlan, also based in Spain, TNO ICT, from the Netherlands, and Starhome, from EUREKA’s associated country Israel, the project EnComPas2 set out to develop prototype services to test on the platform.

The partners also wanted to go a step further and to try the services in an average home on ordinary customers.

Thanks to the Spanish partner Acciona Infraestructuras, a company specialising in construction, the partners started thinking from day one about how their prototypes could be installed in homes in the least intrusive way possible to tuck cables and applications out of sight.

“The idea we wanted to test was for cabling to be behind the walls, completely hidden,” says Jorge Escribano of Acciona’s research and development department.

The proof of the success of the partners’ efforts came when all the technology was up and running in the Acciona house and volunteers were invited in to try it out.

The team got the technical thumbs up: 86 percent of the users found the platform and its applications easy to use and 83 percent said the physical integration of the products was good or very good, said an EnComPas-2 release.

The challenge would be to find the right price for the platform since 57 percent said they would only buy a home management service like they had tested if it cost less than five euros a month.