Powerline broadband groups agree on standards

Interoperability now on the horizon

The proponents of two rival internet-over-powerlines technologies have merged their approaches and say products already on the market will work together.

The HomePlug Powerline Alliance and Panasonic say they will present a joint proposal to the IEEE P1901 Work Group for Broadband over Powerline, which is trying to come up with a global standard. Their proposal could support both Panasonic's HD-PLC and the HomePlug AV specification, so future products would be interoperable with existing gear that uses either one, says Oleg Logvinov, chief strategy officer of HomePlug. The group's latest in-home technology, called HomePlug AV, can deliver more than 30Mbit/s of throughput from most sockets in a home, he says.

The partnership between Panasonic and HomePlug should create a consensus broad enough to reach agreement on a proposal in the P1901 working group by the end of this year, Logvinov says.

Parks Associates analyst Kurt Scherf says the accord is good news. Panasonic and HomePlug had been at loggerheads for some time, and their feud may well have delayed the IEEE standard, he says. They face still another entity, the Universal Powerline Association (UPA), that has won converts from some service providers and vendors, he says. UPA probably doesn't have enough backing in the P1901 group to hold up agreement on a standard, HomePlug's Logvinov says.

The alphabet soup of different standards shouldn't panic consumers at this point, Scherf says. Most products today are adapters rather than expensive, long-term investments. A single standard will matter more when network connections are built in to big-ticket items such as TVs, he says.

The HomePlug Powerline Alliance was formed in 2000 and counts some of the biggest names in IT among its members, including Cisco Systems, Intel and Samsung.

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Tags technologyPanasonicpowerline broadbandHomePlug Powerline Alliance

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