The battle for the home network continues. While wireless still dominates with Wi-Fi, other networking technologies are being adopted. Power-line communications (PLC) has great potential, and there’s always the old reliable standby Ethernet. But wait. Why not deploy all three and let the network system decide which medium is best for the application? That’s what Atheros Communications is proposing with its new hybrid reference designs.
These reference designs uniquely combine Wi-Fi, HomePlugAV PLC, and Ethernet to connect devices and share broadband access throughout the home. This combination of technologies guarantees that every networked device can connect anywhere in the home. This approach simplifies complex installation issues, corrects spotty coverage, and overcomes the problem of inadequate bandwidth.
The reference designs include a router and three adapters that use various combinations of Wi-Fi (802.11n), HomePlugAV power line, and Ethernet. All include software that adds the intelligence permitting network setup and management by any consumer. The hybrid router reference design is designed to be the hub of a connected home. It can deliver up to 500 Mbits/s of throughput via wired or wireless devices for reliable access to the Internet and any networked media content.
Another reference design is a power-line/Ethernet adapter available in single-port or four-port versions. The adapter is used to connect TV sets, Blu-ray players, set-top boxes, and storage units. Data rates to 200 Mbits/s are supported. A third reference design is a Wi-Fi/power-line range extender that plugs into any ac outlet to extend the wireless network to devices in remote parts of the home or other blind spots not reliably reachable by wireless.
This hybrid approach solves many problems with home networks. It makes installation possible for consumers, letting the broadband provider off the hook for a truck roll. It also solves the reach problem that exists with wireless technologies to difficult locations in bad environments by switching to power line or Ethernet where available. And, it gives the consumer all the speed needed to transport video and other content anywhere in the home.
These reference designs will be available in the last quarter of 2010.