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Technology Trickle-Up

The two main viable options make use of existing lines. The HomePlug Powerline Alliance offers a solution that treats your power lines like data lines; the Home Phoneline Networking Alliance offers a telephone-line alternative.

I decided to install a pair of Linksys Instant PowerLine EtherFast bridges between my garage and home office. While the HomePlug Powerline Alliance says that you'll get data rates up to 14 Mbps, I'm getting 1 Mbps to 4 Mbps--fast enough to keep up with my DSL connection but not an ideal solution if I were to need access through this network to a local server for backups or application data access.

The Home Phoneline Networking Alliance just standardized version 3.0 of its HomePNA last month. It touts 128 Mbps, with optional extensions that push data rates to 240 Mbps. That's not too shabby in theory; we'll see what happens once the implementations start later this year.

Each of these wired and wireless technologies contains QoS features that facilitate streaming content, but the standards are in different stages. For HomePlug, QoS was integrated with version 1.0. HomePNA's latest standard improves QoS to prioritize not only phone calls, but also multiple real-time data streams deterministically. One of the strengths of the HomeRF wireless standard was that it was supposed to support both voice and data for the home. However, given that enterprise wireless LANs are starting to take off, it appears that the standards bodies are going to settle on 802.11e, which would implement QoS for both home and enterprise networks.

Will such home networking technologies, wired or wireless, change the way enterprises are run? Wireless technologies already are making a