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IEEE aims for hybrid home network standards by 2012

Posted: 16 Dec 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:standard  hybrid home networks  wireless  wired 

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has set up a group involving companies such as Atheros, Broadcom, Cisco Systems, Intel, Marvell, Toshiba and others to draft a standard to unify the fragmented wireless and wired home networks.

The IEEE 1905.1 group hopes to have a draft standard available by early 2012 defining an abstraction layer that will cover Wi-Fi, powerline, coax and Ethernet home networks.

Chipmakers increasingly share a vision of connecting all devices to all services in the digital home. However, they recognise that no one network can handle that vision, so many have been working on hybrid home network strategies.

For example, Wi-Fi Chipmaker Atheros bought powerline specialist Intellon in September 2009 and announced hybrid Wi-Fi/HomePlug reference designs recently. Rival Broadcom acquired powerline chipmaker Gigle in November 2010 and has similar reference designs in the works.

The IEEE effort will specifically cover Wi-Fi, Ethernet, the Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) version 1.1 spec and the two powerline technologies specified by the IEEE standard 1901.

"We identified a need for convergence between Wi-Fi and powerline in Europe, and at the same time some people in the U.S. were also targeting similar convergence between MoCA and Wi-Fi, so we all talked and there was a common will to reach a standard," said Paul Houze, chairman for 1905.1 and a standard expert for France Telecom.

In separate interviews, companies such as MoCA chip provider Entropic Communications and powerline chipmaker Sigma Designs expressed support for the hybrid home network concept.

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