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Key proposals push broadband over powerline specs

Posted: 17 Jul 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IEEE working group? broadband powerline networking? standardization efforts?

Broadband over powerline networking in the home is one step closer to actualization with key agreements accomplished during last week's IEEE P1901 working group standardization meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland.

All three clusters of the working group looking to standardize BPL MAC and PHY specificationsfor access control, interoperability in the home, and coexistence made important progress, according to Russell Haggar, VP of marketing at BPL chip developer SiConnect.

Sending data transmissions over electrical wiring has been promoted as "the next big thing" for decades and advocates say it will provide competition for cable and telecom companies. But it has been slow to catch on, partly due to opposition from ham radio operators, who claim BPL interferes with its transmissions.

SiConnect is specifically focused on the QoS aspect of the coexistence standardization effort, and the company's proposal, one of four that was being considered in this cluster at the meeting in Edinburgh, gained sufficient votes to move forward to more technical work.

"Our Quality of Service 'partial' proposal was well received, and we will now have discussions with some of the other groups whose proposals will also advance to integrate the work into one ahead of the next P1901 meeting, scheduled for October in Boston, U.S." Haggar told EE Times Europe.

The other proposals in the coexistence stream came from a combination of the Consumer Electronics Powerline Communication Alliance (CEPCA) and the Universal Powerline Association (UPA); the Home Plug Powerline Alliance; and from Telcordia.

CEPCA (of which SiConnect is a member) and UPA have worked together for nearly two years on a joint specification, and their proposal was also forwarded by the meeting for further consideration in October. The European Telecommunications Standards setting organization, ETSI, is also pushing this "full" proposal as a means to ensure coexistence.

The SiConnect QoS submission addresses the prospective standard's requirements for friendly coexistence between disparate technologies and aims to guarantee that powerline technologies from different vendors cannot interfere with each other's performance.

Specifically, the SiConnect proposal answers the requirement that the QoS needs of diverse applications including IPTV, streaming audio and online gaming are fully supported in a home network even when several powerline technologies are deployed side by side.

Remarked Haggar, "We endorse the far-reaching CEPCA-UPA joint initiative on coexistence, although the specification they have produced does not yet address the important topic of quality of service. We strongly believe that QoS is a vital ingredient for a powerline coexistence standard and that it needs to be taken into account at this early stage of development."

Haggar hopes all the proposals can be merged into one ahead of the meeting in October, but admits there is a lot of technical work to be discussed before this can happen, "and we will also need goodwill on all sides to ensure one coexistence solution."

He believes this cluster has a better chance of getting agreement than the other two streams of broadband access over powerline and interoperability. "We would be lucky to see an interoperability standard any time soon," Haggar said.

- John Walko
EE Times Europe

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