SAN JOSE, Calif. – The many flavors of home networks are all claiming advances in technology and adoption at the Consumer Electronics Show, but Wi-Fi clearly remains in the lead with expansions in 5- and 60-GHz support.
Among the wired options, Broadcom announced its first single-chip implementation of the Multimedia over Coax standard that delivers throughput up to 800 Mbits/second. The MoCA technology is used in set-top boxes from DirecTv, Echostar, Comcast, Cox and Verizon.
Broadcom’s archrival Marvell came to CES with a handful of design wins for G.hn, a competing home net technology that runs over coax, phone, electrical wires and optical cables. Cambridge Industries Group, Comtrend, Teleconnect and Woxter said they will use Marvell’s G.hn chips in adapters, modules and other products that deliver up to 1 Gbit/s.
The HomePlug Alliance shared no specifics of new chips or systems but said more than 300 products are certified for its specifications that include the “gigabit-class” HomePlug AV2. HomePlug along with Wi-Fi and Zigbee is part of the Smart Energy Profile 2 spec expected to emerge in smart grid products in 2013.
Market watcher IHS iSuppli estimates HomePlug product shipments grew 39 percent in 2012 and will see a 31 percent compounded growth rate from 2012 to 2016. Chip designers Broadcom, Mediatek Qualcomm Atheros and Sigma Designs support the standard.
Wi-Fi continues to be the mega-highway inside the home. More than 1.5 billion Wi-Fi devices were sold in 2012 alone, said market watcher ABI Research.
Broadcom also announced initial support for the 802.11ac standard in a set-top box at CES, possibly signaling the start of broader adoption from the traditionally wired video suppliers. Plenty of others jumped on the bandwagon, including TP-Link, that claimed its .11ac router has a theoretical data rate max of 1.7 Gbits/s. The .11ac spec uses the 5-GHz band.
Qualcomm Atheros attempted to move out of the Wi-Fi pack with two CES announcements. It said it now has a tri-band wireless module that combines its 2.4- and 5-GHz .11ac chip with a chip from startup Wilocity that supports the .11ad spec for multiple Gbits/s over the 60-GHz bands.
In addition Qualcomm Atheros rolled out value-added software to help consumers manage multiple devices competing for Wi-Fi links in the home. The StramBoost software provides an interface showing each device and app on a home network as well as its real-time bandwidth use.
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