Electronic Design

AC Powerline Connections Still A Viable Home Networking Choice

Using the ac powerline at home to interconnect PCs, peripherals, and consumer electronics via broadband techniques isn’t new. Several companies still make powerline modems. However, the wireless approach to home networking using Wi-Fi has become the most widespread networking option. It’s fast and convenient, and it doesn’t require any new wires.

But you can also say that about the other home networking options. MoCA uses the installed base coax cable in a home, and HomePNA uses the home telephone wiring as well as coax. Yet with ac outlets all around a house, powerline networking still seems like a great choice, even though powerline modems haven’t kept pace with today’s speed requirements for Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) and other video applications. That’s why AT&T chose MoCA for its U-verse IPTV installations and Verizon chose HomePNA for it FiOS HDTV networks.

Now, faster powerline communication (PLC) chips make this mode of home connections more viable than ever. Semiconductor vendor DS2’s latest PLC chips can achieve 200 Mbits/s over home powerlines. The Aitana chip set (DSS9101 and DSS7800) fully complies with the Universal Powerline Association (UPA) standard and is being widely used in Europe for home networking of IPTV. A 100-Mbit/s chip set is also available, and a 400-Mbit/s version is coming soon (see the figure).

The chips offer programmable quality of service (QoS). Their advanced remote management capability complies with the popular TR-069 standard. Also, their user side troubleshooting (link layer topology discovery, or LLTD) facilitates self-install with little or no need for service truck rolls. And, all this can be implemented in a modem with no additional processor. Secure firmware updates are supported as well.

As the need for faster home networking grows, wireless methods may not be able to keep up while providing reliable coverage for the entire home. Longer distances between networked devices, walls, and blind spots slow down wireless and reduce video quality. New wireless technology options are in the works, but it’s no wonder that all the IPTV and video home nets seem to be wired. PLC with DS2’s chips seems to be an attractive alternative.

DS2 • www.ds2.es

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