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IEEE Intros Hybrid Home Network Standard

The IEEE tech industry group has developed a standard aimed at providing a common interface to bridge various hybrid home networks including broadband over powerline (BPL), Wi-Fi, 802.11, Ethernet, and the Multimedia over Coax Alliance's MoCA technologies.

The IEEE announced the approval of the draft standard, called IEEE P1905.1, early this week and said the standard's working group is meeting later in the week in an inaugural meeting.

The standard is primarily aimed at improving interconnections among various devices in homes and small offices. While most devices could operate in those environments anyway, the new IEEE action will streamline overall network performance by dynamically managing packets from the different wireless and wired interfaces while maximizing network bandwidth.

"As there is not a single networking technology that ideally addresses all of today's applications, platforms, and environments, IEEE P1905.1 represents a fundamental advancement for home networking," said Paul Houze of France Telecom-Orange and chair of the IEEE working group. "Creating a bridge between the world's most popular wired and wireless technologies will bring much-needed synergy, making home networks easier to use and elevating their overall performance."

The IEEE predicted that the new specification will facilitate easier installation, setup, management, and diagnostics for consumers, who will be able to obtain true plug-and-play networking.

The new spec is likely to result in an increase in BPL technology, in particular. The powerline technology has had periods of uncertainty, as the use of utility power lines to deliver broadband to consumers never really caught on. However, it has enjoyed a renaissance lately, as technological improvements have helped eliminate interference. Powerline technology in homes is catching on and the IEEE support is likely to help it spread, particularly as its value in delivering smart-grid technology, including monitor and control of home energy use, is better understood.

The IEEE said the fact that key stakeholders, including chipmakers, equipment manufacturers, and service providers, have been involved in producing the P1905 spec is expected to hasten its acceptance. The spec is backward-compatible with most existing relevant networking standards.


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