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New spec promises HD-TV over existing home wires

Jun 12, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

An emerging gigabit-speed, triple-wire technology called could ship in 42 million units by 2013, says ABI Research. Under development by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and promoted by a group called the HomeGrid Alliance, is billed as an HD IPTV-capable successor to current powerline networking standards.

Its backers hope can define a single MAC and PHY protocol for transporting multimedia over existing house wiring, be it phone lines, power lines, or coaxial cable. ABI concedes that the market is “crowded,” with increasingly higher-bandwidth WiFi technology more popular than ever, and with wired technologies such as HomePlug and MoCA gaining momentum. Yet, according to ABI, none of these technologies can handle the most compelling new application in the home: distributing high-definition IPTV video.

The specification is being developed by Group 15 of the ITU-T's Telecommunication Standardization Sector. The standard is being promoted by the HomeGrid Forum, an industry group that aims to do for what the WiFi-Alliance has accomplished for 802.11. That is, to act as a compliance and interoperability authority that will distribute its logo to compliant products. The HomeGrid Forum was founded on Apr. 29th by Infineon Technologies, Intel, Panasonic, and Texas Instruments (TI), and has since added Aware, DS2, Gigle Semiconductor, and Pulse-LINK as promoter members, with Ikanos, Westell, and Sigma Designs signing on as contributors.

The HomeGrid Forum expects the ITU-T to reach a preliminary agreement on the specification later this year, with a final spec released in 2009. Although final performance specs have yet to be set, the maximum data rate for is likely to be a theoretical 1Gbps for a “clean” line. According to industry reports, targeted real-world bandwidth is likely to be less than half that for coax, and perhaps 250Mbps for powerline. Yet, the performance is still expected to exceed any of the existing home networking technologies, which range between 100-200Mbps.

Actiontec's HomePlug-compatible adapter
(Click for details)

HomeGrid is encouraging the ITU to provide some degree of backward compatibility with pre-existant powerline communications (PLC) home networking standards, including HomePlug Powerline Alliance, the current market leader; HD-PLC Alliance; and the newly announced UPA (Universal Powerline Association). In addition, HomeGrid hopes to extend compatibility to non-powerline home broadband technologies including the coax-based MoCA (Multimedia over Coax Alliance), and the coax- and phone-line capable HPNA (HomePNA). Another group working to create coexistence between other PLC standards is CEPCA (Consumer Electronics Powerline Communication Alliance). equipment due in 2010 is likely to be integrated into carrier devices by 2010, according to the ABI Research study entitled “ will next-generation triple-wire home networking standard hit the digital home trifecta?” The technology will implemented initially in set-top boxes (STBs), residential gateways, and other service-provider CPE (customer premises equipment) hardware.

Stated ABI Research director Michael Wolf, “We see several applications, such as multi-room high-definition video, that would ultimately benefit from the move towards a single MAC/PHY for multiple media in the home.”


More information on the ABI Research study on should be available here.

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