IEEE P1901 Draft Standard on Broadband over Power Line Networks Nears Agreement

Jan. 14, 2009
The draft standard for using the power lines to carry broadband networks is beginning to take shape

The draft standard for using the power lines to carry broadband networks is beginning to take shape. A meeting held in Kyoto, Japan, 16-19 December 2008 discussed proposals for broadband over power line network standards. As an initial activity during this meeting, the Working Group discussed the comments received on the proposal that failed the previous confirmation vote in San Francisco in November 2008.

Among the received comments, a group of companies involved in Access BPL networking, IBM, Ambient, IBEC, Corinex, UPLC, PLC Ventures, and the chip vendor DS2, submitted a proposal to add an ITU-T Study Group 15/Q4 Recommendation Compatible PHY/MAC option to the FFT PHY/MAC and the Wavelet PHY/MAC defined in the In-Home and Access proposals that are candidates for confirmation. HomePlug, Panasonic, Mitsubishi, Hisilicon and the co-authors of the surviving proposals accepted the proposed change and submitted updated In-Home and Access proposals for a second round of confirmation voting.

A confirmation vote on the updated Panasonic-HomePlug-HiSilicon In-Home proposal was conducted first. The proposal received affirmative votes from 85% of the working group and thus passed to become part of the baseline draft standard.

Next, a confirmation vote on the updated HomePlug-Panasonic-Mitsubishi Access proposal was conducted. This proposal received affirmative votes from 97% of the Working Group and thus passed to become part of the baseline draft standard.

Finally, there was a confirmation vote on the CEPCA-SiConnect-HomePlug Coexistence proposal. The proposal received affirmative votes from 100% of the Working Group and thus passed to become part of the baseline draft standard.

With these confirmation votes, a major milestone has been reached. The next step is the development of the first version of the draft standard based on the three confirmed proposals. A Technical Sub Group was formed to perform this task. The next meeting is scheduled for 3-6 February in Miami, FL.

P1901 Scope

The project will develop a standard for high speed (>100 Mbps at the physical layer) communication devices via alternating current electric power lines, so called Broadband over Power Line (BPL) devices. The standard will use transmission frequencies below 100 MHz. This standard will be usable by all classes of BPL devices, including those used for the first-mile/last-mile connection (<1500 m to the premise) to broadband services as well as BPL devices used in buildings for LANs and other data distribution (<100m between devices).

This standard will focus on the balanced and efficient use of the power line communications channel by all classes of BPL devices, defining detailed mechanisms for coexistence and interoperability between different BPL devices, and ensuring that desired bandwidth and quality of service may be delivered. The standard will address the necessary security questions to ensure the privacy of communications between users and allow the use of BPL for security sensitive services. This standard is limited to the physical layer and the medium access sub-layer of the data link layer, as defined by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) Basic Reference Model. The effort will begin with an architecture investigation, and this will form the basis for detailed scope of task groups that will work within P1901 to develop the components of the final standard.

P1901 Purpose

New modulation techniques offer the possibility to use the power lines for high speed communications. This new high speed media is open, and locally shared by several BPL devices. Without an independent, openly defined standard, BPL devices serving different applications will conflict with one another and provide unacceptable service to all parties. The standard will provide a minimum implementation subset that allows the fair coexistence of the BPL devices. The full implementation will provide the interoperability among the BPL devices, as well as interoperability with other networking protocols, such as bridging for seamless interconnection via 802.1. It is also the intent of this effort to progress quickly towards a robust standard so power line applications may begin to impact the marketplace. The standard will also comply with EMC limits set by national regulators, so as to ensure successful coexistence with wireless and telecommunications systems

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