Power outlets exist in every home, but they have never been exploited for data, voice, or video communications—until now. Thirteen companies have teamed up to form the HomePlug Powerline Alliance. This coalition hopes to create specifications for the rapid availability of interoperable devices and the widespread adoption of home powerline networking.
"Industry leaders in technology, computers, semiconductors, software, hardware, retail, and services are working together to accelerate the establishment of a specification, the development of products, and adoption by consumers of home powerline networking," says Alberto Mantovani, president of the group and division director of strategic programs at Conexant Systems Inc. in Newport Beach, Calif. Based in San Ramon, Calif., the alliance hopes to publish the final specifications of its standard by the middle of the fourth quarter of this year.
The association is investigating a 10-Mbit/s data rate, low latency, and quality of service for telephony and consumer electronics. Currently, it's conducting field trials, lab tests, and detailed analysis of powerline technology proposals forwarded by several members and other manufacturers around the world. It expects to select a technology proposal by early June. Based on this technology, the founders will then work to establish standard specifications by early October.
This open group hopes to recruit more members. So far, Advanced Micro Devices, Cisco Systems, Compaq, Conexant, Enikia, Intel, Intellon, Motorola, Panasonic, S3's Diamond Multimedia, Tandy, Texas Instruments, and 3Com have joined. "An industry specification is needed to boost consumer confidence in home networking solutions," notes Bob Dillon, president of Enikia in Piscataway, N.J. Toward this goal, Enikia is developing chip sets for designing transceivers that will bridge Ethernet/USB ports and powerline.
For details, go to www.homeplug.com.