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    Schneider Electric and THOMSON multimedia join forces

    Schneider Electric, the world leader in electrical distribution, industrial control and automation, and THOMSON multimedia, the world’s leader in digital set-top boxes and fourth-largest consumer electronics group, today announced a global partnership to develop Powerline Communication (PLC) technologies.

    > A high-potential market
    With the explosive growth in sales of digital devices, such as set-top boxes, DVD players, electronic books and MP3 audio players, home communication networks will soon become as commonplace as household electrical wiring. Whether these home networks succeed will depend in large part on their price, performance and ease of use.

    The key to developing these networks is to enable consumers to connect without having to install additional wiring. Among the different possibilities – for "no new wire" networks – PLC technologies are especially attractive because they are so easy to use. They use the household electrical system to transmit digital data, then they enable products to communicate, simply by installing an interconnect box between the product and the electrical outlet.

    The market for communication devices integrating these technologies is estimated at more than 1 billion Euros in 2003.

    > A global partnership
    To serve this emerging demand, Schneider Electric and THOMSON multimedia will develop solutions using PLC technology for widely used consumer applications and building control systems. With more than one million accessories already sold worldwide, both companies enjoy industry-leading experience and expertise. In the United States, THOMSON multimedia is the leader in this market and, for the past two years, has sold a system that links a digital set-top box to a telephone line using the existing electrical network. In Europe, approval to market these products has been obtained for the United Kingdom and Italy, and is pending in France, Spain and Germany.

    Drawing on their existing positions and a shared vision of the market’s potential, the partners have decided to create an equally owned joint venture that will combine their assets and skills in PLC technologies. Their goal is to build a full range of PLC communication products for home networks, building control systems and return path needed for interactive applications.

    The partners’ ambition is to become a world leader in PLC technology-based solutions, with sales of 200 to 300 million Euros within three years. They will begin inter-site communication trials via electrical networks as soon as the joint venture is operational.

    “As the leader in power distribution, with more than 100 million homes around the world equipped with our products, we are remarkably well placed to take advantage of the growth opportunities provided by voice, data and image (VDI) applications and home automation,” said Schneider Electric Chairman and CEO Henri Lachmann. “Our partnership in PLC technology with THOMSON multimedia will enable us to broaden our offer, build closer ties with the end-user, and offer our customers a portfolio tailored to their demand for product interactivity, interconnectivity and remote control.”

    For Thierry Breton, Chairman and CEO of THOMSON multimedia, the alliance with Schneider Electric gives “a competitive strength to help us build on the current popularity of THOMSON multimedia products already successfully integrating PLC technology. The benefits for consumers are obvious. All they have to do is plug in a THOMSON multimedia product integrating this technology and they can instantly communicate with any other product plugged into the power grid. The partnership with Schneider Electric represents another stage in our strategy of making each of our products connected and capable of supporting dedicated consumer services.”

    THOMSON multimedia profile
    With 1999 sales of EUR 6.7 billion ($6.5 billion) and 55,000 employees in more than 30 countries, THOMSON multimedia (Paris Bourse Sicovam clearing number: 18453) (NYSE: TMS) is the world’s fourth largest producer of consumer electronics. The Group is active in four core businesses: Displays and Components, Consumer Products, New Media Services, and Patents and Licensing. Thomson Multimedia engineers, manufactures and markets displays, components and consumer products, such as television, VCRs, audio systems, digital decoders, DVD players and professional video equipment under the Thomson and RCA brands.
    For more information: www.thomson-multimedia.com