HomeGrid: Closer to Home

In a win for the wired home networking industry, the world’s first open G.hn Interoperability Plugfest brought four G.hn chipset manufacturers together in Geneva, Switzerland. A joint effort of HomeGrid Forum and the Broadband Forum and hosted at the ITU-T’s global headquarters and organized by University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL), the event presented the first open opportunity for silicon vendors to test the interoperability of their products, based on the G.hn home networking standard.

G.hn is a home network standard developed under the ITU. The G.hn specification defines networking over power lines, phone lines and coaxial cables with data rates up to 1 Gbit/s. It’s a wired and complementary counterpart to Wi-Fi, and is expected to be globally deployed by many service providers, PC manufacturers, appliance manufacturers and consumer electronics companies.

Lantiq, Marvell Semiconductor, Metanoia, and Sigma Designs brought their G.hn chips. G.hn interoperability is critical as it ensures a common standard for very high speed home networking options across different wired media.

Final products will likely carry a HomeGrid logo. The HomeGrid Forum promotes adoption of G.hn through technical and marketing efforts.

G.hn opponents believe that this standard has a major deficiency in that it won’t interoperate with legacy wireline standards such as HomePlug for powerline and Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) for coaxial cable.

Although most elements of G.hn are common for all three media (power lines, phone lines and coaxial cable), G.hn includes media-specific optimizations. Some of these media-specific parameters include OFDM Carrier Spacing: 195.31 kHz in coaxial, 48.82 kHz in phone lines, 24.41 kHz in power lines, different power masks for each media, and MIMO support for transmitting G.hn signals over multiple AC wires (phase, neutral, ground), if they are physically available.

Comcast’s new Xfinity Home Security service uses an in-home touch screen to control closed circuit cameras, motion detectors, door & window sensors. It’s based on the home-automation platform from iControl Networks, which merged with competitor uControl in November 2010. Their solution combines Wifi, Z-Wave (900 MHz), and ZigBee (900MHz & 2.4GHz).

Customers can create personalized settings to provide real-time e-mail or text alerts based on events. A Basic package is available for $29.95 monthly, with a $200 installation fee. That includes just two window/door sensors and doesn’t provide advanced features and options such as cameras, thermostats and lighting control. A more robust package, with video cameras and hardware to manage your thermostat and lights remotely, is $40 a month, plus a $300 installation. Termination fee is a steep $770 for the basic service, and $1100 for the Premier service.

Intel’s Wireless Energy Sensing Technology (WEST) prototype, plugs into a regular electrical outlet.

The device recognizes the “signatures” of major electrical loads in a home and will transmit the information to a PC, smartphone, or TV.

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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