SAN JOSE, Calif. Thanks to growing momentum behind a standard covering all wired home networks, an IEEE group has taken a significant step toward defining a standard for competing powerline technologies. The IEEE's P1901 working group approved last week (Dec. 19) at a meeting in Kyoto a set of baseline technologies powerline nets, breaking a two-year deadlock.
The group approved a proposal that defines a set of three physical and media access layer options. The trio includes the G.hn wired home net standard for which the PHY was recently approved by the ITU, a separate standards group.
The P1901 group had been stalled over an earlier version of the proposal which called for two PHY and MAC options, one based on the HomePlug AV technology of the HomePlug Powerline Alliance and the other based on Panasonic's HD-PLC. The approach would have forced hardware changes for proponents of powerline chips from DS2 who opposed the plan.
The move comes just a week after the ITU finished work on the PHY for G.hn, a high data rate standard for home nets covering coax, telephone and powerline cables. In May, the approach gained support from a wide array of companies that formed the HomeGrid Forum, making inclusion of the technology in the P1901 proposal a logical step.
Even though G.hn is seen as the ultimate goal for a wired home networking standard, the P1901 effort is still important, said Paul Liao, chief technology officer for Panasonic, speaking in an interview in July. One source said carriers are holding off deploying powerline networks until a standard for them is set.
The P1901 proposal still faces a verification vote at the group's next meeting in three months. If all goes well an initial draft could be completed in November 2009.
"Confirming the baseline technology for the P1901 draft standard is a significant achievement for the HomePlug Alliance and the entire powerline communications industry," said Rob Ranck, president of the HomePlug Alliance in a press statement. "The formation of a ubiquitous IEEE standard will help to unite the industry, create even faster market growth and provide strong benefits to the consumer."
The HomePlug group reiterated its plans to provide a compliance and interoperability certification program for products based on the IEEE 1901 standard.
"We think G.hn will be the clear standard for home-networking applications, including both consumer and service provider markets, over any kind of wire," said a spokesman for DS2. "P1901, on the other hand, will be the most important standard for broadband powerline and smart grid applications," he added.
Wi-Fi dominates today used in an estimated 53 percent of networked homes in the U.S. according to Parks Associates (Dallas). By contrast, only about 19 percent use some form of wired networking other than Category 5 Ethernet cable. Powerline represents a little less than half that group.