HomePlug Powerline Alliance certifies IEEE P1901-compliant products

Now that the IEEE has ratified the P1901 powerline standard, HomePlug Powerline Alliance has enhanced its HomePlug AV certification program to include products based on the new standard.

The P1901 standard, which was approved by the IEEE-SA Standards board on September 30, incorporates the HomePlug AV Medium Access Control (MAC) and Physical (PHY) layers as the baseline. P1901 will be able to support various powerline communications (PLC) applications, including home networks, utility companies Smart Energy and Smart Grid initiatives in addition to plug-in electrical cars.

Already, the HomePlug Powerline Alliance is making progress on the product front. To date, it has at least four vendors developing HomePlug AV powerline silicon, including Atheros, Sigma Designs, Gigle Networks and SPiDCOM.

"We're really trying to make the transition seamless between HomePlug AV and P1901," said Rob Ranck, President the HomePlug Powerline Alliance in an interview with FierceTelecom. "We're not positioning it as two different programs so to speak. What 1901 does is complement the groundwork we laid for HomePlug AV."

Along with service providers, especially those in Europe that are using powerline technology to distribute video and data services because coax cable is not as present as it in the U.S., utility companies can use the P1901 standard for their smart energy deployments.  

The timing of the IEEE P1901 ratification couldn't be any better because it comes just as HomePlug is wrapping up its HomePlug AV 2 specification.

Utilities that had decided to hold off on using powerline can now rest easy because the IEEE's new standard is that it's compatible with HomePlug's proposed Home Plug "Green PHY" specification will target Smart/Energy applications.  

"Utilities really wanted to have the IEEE standard because if you're rolling out a big smart grid implementation with something with meters that are going to stay connected for a long time, it's a lot easier for a buyer to explain to management we have gone with a solution that's an IEEE solution," Ranck said, adding that "it will be primarily be an in-home standard."   

No less important is the AV2 specification.

While Ranck admits that the development of the AV2 standard has taken a bit longer than they would have liked because it required a lot of stringent field testing and the incorporation of emerging technology techniques such as multiple input multiple output (MIMO), he thinks the efforts will pay off in the long run.

"We had expected it earlier, and we went back and looked at the state of art for powerline and one thing that became clear is that in order to have a next-generation powerline standard, you really needed to have technologies like MIMO and differences in the MAC for routing and repeating to improve the performance of the whole home coverage," he said.

For more:
- see the release

Related articles:
IEEE sets foundation for global powerline network standard
IEEE brings harmony to powerline standards
Broadband over powerline's pulse still beats
MoCA, HomePlug Alliance to compare notes
Untangling the home network wiring debate
Service providers push back on G.hn standard

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