Powerline networking groups connect their standards

The HomePlug Powerline Alliance and Panasonic will merge their technologies for powerline networking.

Fast in-home networks over electrical wires got a boost on Friday as proponents of two rival technologies merged their approaches and said products already in the market will work together.

The HomePlug Powerline Alliance and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. (Panasonic) said they will present a joint proposal to the IEEE P1901 Work Group for Broadband over Powerline, which is trying to come up with a global standard. Their proposal could support both Panasonic's HD-PLC and the HomePlug AV specification, so future products would be interoperable with existing gear that uses either one, said Oleg Logvinov, chief strategy officer of HomePlug. The group's latest in-home technology, called HomePlug AV, can deliver more than 30M bps (bits per second) of throughput from most sockets in a home, he said. A HomePlug adapter about the size of a cigarette pack can plug into a socket and provide Ethernet or another type of standard connection on the other side.

Using wall sockets and home wires is one of several competing methods for connecting PCs and consumer electronics at high speeds. This is expected to be critical for sharing entertainment content around a home after many people start watching high-definition TV and downloadable movies over fiber carrier networks. Phone lines, coaxial TV cable and improved wireless LANs are also vying for dominance, and the market is still wide open, according to Parks Associates analyst Kurt Scherf.

Powerline networking is also being promoted for broadband itself, where it has gained little traction against DSL (digital subscriber line) and cable. The P1901 standard would cover both. HomePlug BPL, designed for this use, can work together with HomePlug AV, Logvinov said.

The partnership between Panasonic and HomePlug should create a consensus broad enough to reach agreement on a proposal in the P1901 working group by the end of this year, Logvinov said.

Friday's move surprised Scherf, who called it good news. Panasonic and HomePlug had been at loggerheads for some time, and their feud may well have delayed the IEEE standard, he said. They face still another entity, the Universal Powerline Association (UPA), that has won converts from some service providers and vendors, Scherf said. UPA probably doesn't have enough backing in the P1901 group to hold up agreement on a standard, HomePlug's Logvinov believes.

The alphabet soup of different standards shouldn't panic consumers at this point, Scherf said. Most products today are adapters rather than expensive, long-term investments. A single standard will matter more when network connections are built in to big-ticket items such as TVs, he said.

The HomePlug Powerline Alliance was formed in 2000 and counts some of the biggest names in IT among its members, including Cisco Systems Inc., Intel Corp., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Motorola Inc. and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. It claims more than 10 million HomePlug products have shipped worldwide.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?