G.hn home-network backers look to Asia

The standard for multiple wired media is generating interest in China and Japan, they say

By , IDG News Service |  Networking

Vendors developing gear with G.hn, a home networking standard that can work with four different types of wires, say Asia is shaping up as a land of opportunity.

The standard has been finished since 2010, and chips are starting to get approved for it. But service providers that have already set up current-generation home networks for their subscribers aren't likely to get into a new technology, said Matt Theall, president of the HomeGrid Forum, which certifies G.hn products. He spoke at the HomeGrid Forum's booth at the International CES, where makers of G.hn silicon are showing off their fledgling products.

Fortunately, interest in G.hn is growing in Asia, Theall said. Many carriers there haven't yet started setting up home networks for their broadband subscribers, and G.hn supporters have recently enhanced their standard to work well in multifamily buildings, which are common in Asia, he said.

G.hn is a single standard for communications over coaxial cable, copper phone lines, electrical wires and plastic optical fiber. It has a theoretical top speed of 1G bps (bit per second), though real-world throughput will be less than that and depends on the type of wire used. It competes with MOCA (Multimedia over Coax Alliance), which is coaxial-only, and Homeplug AV and AV2, which are for power lines. HomePNA, which can use either phone wiring or coax, has also been widely deployed by some carriers.

Using G.hn can cut development costs because one device can be built to handle all four types of wire, with some of the silicon inside being common across all four, the standard's backers say. However, other parts still are separate and unique for each interface.

Though consumers typically network their phones, tablets and laptops via Wi-Fi, many carriers and cable operators offer wired home networks as well for relatively reliable, high-speed backbones between rooms. For example, in the U.S., Verizon Communications provides MOCA to many customers and AT&T has supplied HomePNA and HomePlug to U-Verse subscribers. France Telecom also deploys HomePlug.

Some service providers in some Asian countries haven't committed to either power lines or coax for home networks, opening up a fast-growing opportunity for G.hn, Theall said.

Metanoia Technologies, a Taiwan-based DSL chipset maker that is developing a G.hn product, sees strong demand from China and Japan, according to John Hai Ngo, Metanoia's director of operations. Specifically, China Telecom has expressed interest in the technology with Metanoia and pressed for quick development, Ngo said.

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