HomePlug/Panasonic Merged Proposal Takes the First Step in Becoming a Worldwide Standard through the Efforts of the IEEE P1901 Work Group

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

In-home and Access standardization will unite the industry and help create rapid market growth as international companies embrace IEEE powerline communications standards

SAN RAMON, Calif. — The HomePlug® Powerline Alliance today announced that the joint proposal, submitted by HomePlug member companies and Panasonic®, is the sole MAC/PHY proposal remaining in the IEEE P1901 work group process for creating an international standard for in-home and access powerline communication technologies. At a meeting held two weeks ago in Boston, the voting process implemented by members of the IEEE P1901 work group voted to support the HomePlug/Panasonic proposal over competing proposals, paving the way for industry unification and greater market growth.

The merged proposal, submitted by HomePlug and Panasonic to the IEEE P1901 work group, offers the efficiency of a single MAC and the flexibility to support both the HomePlug AV and HD-PLC PHYs. Future products based on the merged 1901 proposal can be fully interoperable with existing HomePlug AV or Panasonic HD-PLC products.

This achievement validates the HomePlug Alliance’s existing mission to create specifications and certify products based on a single interoperable worldwide standard for in-home and broadband powerline communications (BPL) technology. Since this proposal uses existing technology as the foundation for the IEEE 1901 international standard, development using field proven powerline communications will continue and accelerate, enabling companies to develop competitive solutions which will broaden the use of the technology, foster innovative new products, and most importantly, provide interoperability with HomePlug AV products being deployed today. HomePlug and IEEE share the common goal of unifying an industry through standardization of a technology, thus helping create ubiquity for the technology and leading to both greater availability and lower costs for consumers.

“We created specifications for a technology that would meet the stringent feature requests of service providers and equipment manufacturers the world over,” said Matthew Theall, president of the HomePlug Powerline Alliance and Intel’s powerline initiative manager. “The IEEE P1901 work group was comprised of many of these international companies that plan to implement this technology in applications such as HDTV, audio, surveillance, computer networking, broadband access and smart-grid solutions. As the process continues, we expect to work with members of the IEEE community and demonstrate how this technology fully serves each of these applications and more.”

“Panasonic is thrilled to be working closely with HomePlug to create a common technology that will be adopted by the industry,” said Dr. Stefano Galli, Lead Scientist for Panasonic. “We believe that our mutual collaboration is in the best interests of consumers and we are excited to be working towards a technology that will be broadly deployed.”

The merging of the HomePlug and Panasonic proposals was a significant step towards success in the IEEE process. The next step in the process is to confirm the selected proposal, driving it forward as the technology baseline.

“The IEEE’s outcome is a great vote of confidence for the HomePlug Powerline Alliance, Panasonic and the powerline communications industry as a whole,” said Oleg Logvinov, president and CEO of Arkados Inc., and the Alliance’s chief strategy officer. “With the adoption of the IEEE 1901 standard, we can eliminate some of the confusion created by proprietary technologies which splintered the marketplace and were not interoperable. HomePlug is confident that the merged proposal contains all the technical elements that are needed to fulfill current and future requirements of both the in-home and access marketplaces. Over the next several months, HomePlug members plan to work with all users of this technology, such as equipment manufacturers, service providers and utilities, ensuring that this specification meets or exceeds their expectations.”

The IEEE process was engaged to select a powerline technology standard for in-home, access and coexistence clusters. The HomePlug/Panasonic solution is the sole technology moving forward for the in-home and access clusters, with a vote on the coexistence cluster pending.

Powerline communications is a breakthrough technology that can send very high-speed data, rich multimedia and high-definition content over common power lines, using the same wire for both electrical power and digital communications. By using the largest physical network in the world the electrical power grid powerline technology can be used anywhere power lines exist; in homes, on the power grid (for smart-grid technologies and broadband access), and in commercial environments.

This announcement follows several news items shared at the recent HomePlug Powerline Technology Conference where the Alliance announced the merger of their IEEE proposal with Panasonic’s; that the HomePlug-developed Compliance and Interoperability (C&I) program will be expanded to certify IEEE 1901-based products; as well as that over 40 new products passed the current HomePlug AV certification process. The Alliance also announced the availability of their specification for HomePlug Command and Control, a powerline technology used for a breadth of applications, including advanced intelligent energy management, security and whole-house control, including lighting, appliances, HVAC and several other devices.

More: Powerline spec scorecard: HomePlug-1, DS2-0 (EETimes Asia)