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Merger Propels Wired Home Networking

June 18, 2013
The merger of the HomeGrid Forum and HomePNA appears to the a good move for the future of G.hn wired home networking.
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The recent merger of the HomePNA Alliance with the HomeGrid Forum creates a new critical mass that should be an incentive for increasing the number of home area networks (HANs) using wired technology. Today, most networked homes use Wi-Fi for Internet access and video distribution. The rest use existing installed home telephone twisted-pair wiring, cable TV coax, or the ac power line.

One of the more popular wired methods, HomePNA’s standard, occupies the frequencies above the standard DSL spectrum to carry video and Internet traffic. AT&T’s U-verse IPTV services use this technology. But with the availability of the ITU-T’s G.hn wired technology, equipment OEMs and service providers are slowly migrating to this flexible standard, which supports phone line wiring, coax, or ac power-line media.

The HomeGrid Forum (HGF) was created to support and champion G.hn, while the HomePNA Alliance sought to build and promote its own wired home networking technology. Both organizations under the HomeGrid Forum name will continue to perform compatibility and interoperability testing and certification as they move to build the G.hn marketplace. The HGF will continue to support and certify HomePNA products as the evolution toward an all-G.hn system continues.

G.hn has been finalized for several years now but has been slow to show up in homes. The lack of certified silicon has been one problem, but so has the general lack of consumer knowledge about the various types of home network wiring potential. With most homes having an installed base of ac power line, telephone wiring, and cable TV coax, no new wiring is needed. The merged organizations will make a more consolidated effort toward G.hn’s promotion and development.

The HGF’s testing organization, TRaC Global of the United Kingdom, recently certified Sigma Design’s CG5200 G.hn chip, making it possible for manufacturers to design a full G.hn product with minimal effort and cost. Sigma Design joins Marvell with its 88LX3142 broadband processor and 88LX2718 front-end chips as the key vendors of G.hn silicon. This should spur new G.hn designs.

In the meantime, HomePlug, the ac power-line standard, continues to dominate the power-line communications space in home networking. MoCA, the Multimedia over Cable Alliance coax standard, leads in coax home wiring connections. These organizations along with the Wi-Fi Alliance have adopted the latest IEEE 1901.5 hybrid networking standard, which provides a common communications protocol that works with all wired and wireless home networking methods. The nVoy certification and marketing program provides the testing and certification for the 1901.5 standard.

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