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IEEE To Enable Peaceful Coexistence For HomePlug, HD-PLC

An IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) working group has developed a powerline-network standard that will enable the incompatible Home Plug and Panasonic HD-PLC standards to coexist on a home network without interference.

The standard, called IEEE 1901, will also boost the data rates of the 200Mbps HomePlug and 170Mbps HD-PLC standards to 400Mbps, the HomePlug Powerline Alliance said.

An international standard that allows for coexistence on a home’s powerlines will encourage more service providers such a satellite TV and broadband providers to adopt HomePlug technology, said Oleg Logvinov, the alliance’s chief strategy officer and president of Arkados. In the United States, DirecTV and Comcast already offer HomePlug-equipped devices.

The IEEE 1901 working group weeded out other proposals for an international powerline standard, and the group plans a formal vote in February to adopt the standard, Logvinov said. The proposal will then go to the full IEEE for a vote, likely to come by the end of 2008, he said. The alliance will certify that IEEE 1901 products conform to the standard.

Under the proposal, the HomePlug and HD-PLC standards will share a common media access controller, enabling HomePlug and HD-PLC devices to coexist on the same network without degrading audio and video quality, Logvinov said. Devices must also have at least one of the two technologies’ incompatible physical-layers, or radio-modulation technologies. If devices incorporate both physical layers, they could interoperate with devices that use either the HomePlug or HD-PLC physical layers, Logvinov said. If the devices incorporate only one physical layer, they can nonetheless coexist on the same network with devices incorporating the other IEEE 1901 physical layer.

Backward compatibility is also a feature of 1901. Any 1901 device incorporating the HomePlug physical layer will communicate with existing HomePlug A/V devices. Likewise, a 1901 device incorporating the HD-PLC physical layer will be able to talk to products with the existing HD-PLC.