For the first time in years, the HomePlug camp can once again stand tall. For the past few years, HomePlug has been forced to live in the shadows of Wi-Fi and battle the ubiquity that wireless brings to end users.
Over the last two weeks, the picture significantly changed for the HomePlug camp. It all started last week when the HomePlug Alliance, the organization setting the specs, finally announced the HomePlug AV spec, which delivers higher data rates and provides an architecture optimized for audio and video transmissions.
While the HomePlug AV announcement was interesting, the more significant boost came Wednesday when Cisco/Linksys, Intel, and Motorola all became sponsors of the HomePlug spec. Now, the Motorola sign on shouldn't come as a surprise, especially since Motorola is an investor in HomePlug chipset vendor Intellon. But, the Cisco/Linksys one is a biggie. Years ago, I questioned Linksys on their plans in HomePlug and the company responded by saying that HomePlug was nice but represented a real small part of the company's development efforts. To Linksys' defense, HomePlug AV was still a whiteboard dream at the time and the current HomePlug spec, version 1.0, really had its problems. Now with HomePlug AV in place and Cisco/Linksys focusing a ton of attention on media distribution, we shouldn't be surprised that Cisco/Linksys is once again dabbling in the HomePlug world. And, that's only good news for HomePlug adoption.
Linksys isn't the only one seeing the benefits. SlingMedia and Philips both told me recently that they are looking at HomePlug. And, let's not forget that Netgear has been supporting this space all along.
There's no doubt that the last few years have been tough on he HomePlug sector. But, with the backing of companies like Cisco/Linksys and AV specs in order, things are finally starting to look bright for HomePlug backers. So watch out Wi-Fi and UWB. There may be a new powerline competitor in the home.
Robert Keenan is a contributing blogger for Network Systems DesignLine. When not running powerline networks, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.