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Enjoy comforts of HomePlug A/V

Posted: 01 Nov 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:sharp? homeplug audiovisual technology? hpav? consumer electronics? hdtv?

Ayyagari: The home-entertainment landscape is evolving; changes are slowly but surely demolishing the traditional "entertainment center" model.

Completion of the HomePlug AudioVisual technology standard (HPAV) should come as welcome news to consumers and companies developing consumer electronics for home A/V applications.

The home-entertainment landscape is evolving and changes are slowly but surely demolishing the traditional "entertainment center" model.

This evolution has been slow in coming, partly due to the absence of a secure, reliable, high-speed data networking backbone within the home that provides the end-user with a seamless connected experience. But HPAV fills that need and, consequently, its ramifications for the home A/V industry go far beyond the "cool" factor.

Distributing A/V content with QoS guarantees over the home power-line grid is the primary function of HPAV. Currently, the most demanding A/V applications are HDTV and VoIP. The HPAV Marketing Requirements Document calls for supporting at least one 24MBps HDTV signal in more than 98 percent of a home's outlet pairs.

broadband over power line (BPL) is an application generating much media attention. In the future, BPL and access networksincluding cable, DSL and satellitewill deliver much of the A/V content into the home. HPAV is a likely candidate for the bridge from the access network to the in-home network, with HPAV devices integrated into STBs and Internet gateways.

Peaceful coexistence of the power-line communications (PLC) in-home and BPL access networks in the same sub-30MHz frequency band is a particularly challenging problem. Installing filters is a solution that likely requires the much-despised truck roll. Contrary to some claims, there is no clear evidence that the sub-11MHz frequency band is better-suited for access BPL and that 11MHz to 30MHz should be dedicated to in-home PLC applications in all geographical markets. Such a fixed frequency split greatly diminishes the promise of PLC by limiting the capacity and coverage for multiple HDTV signals within the home.

HPAV adopts a pragmatic and practical solution for the coexistence problem by supporting flexible time- and frequency-division multiple-access algorithms that allow the access and in-home networks to negotiate bandwidth in both time and frequency.

The HPAV standard's promise lies in the myriad positive aspects of the technology. The strong QoS support, robust 200Mbps class data delivery and enhanced coverage and security are all critical advancements in home-networking technology.

Consumers should especially like the reduced "nest of wires" around their entertainment center and PC as a result of embedded HPAV solutions in CE devices. They will also enjoy the freedom of movement that comes from true plug-and-watch features enabled by PLC.

For the design engineer, HPAV is a robust and elegant standard that will simplify the design process. Together, members of the HPAV Alliance, including Sharp, collaborated to pool our collective R&D experience and our understanding of the needs of CE applications developers to answer the challenges we knew they would face.

All said, there is much in HPAV to which both the designer and the consumer can look forward.

- Deepak Ayyagari
Principal scientist
Sharp Laboratories of America

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