Coming Soon: Ultrafast Home Networks For Everyone

A fast new home networking standard was ratified on Friday by the ITU. With the unsexy name and some quibbles about what the consumer friendly marketing name will be (HomeGrid backed by Intel and Texas Instruments seems likely), writing a headline is hard. But think of this as the five things you need to know about

  1. The new standard allows chip makers to build just one chip for the world. It will allow consumers to move digital content around the home using power lines, which is big in Europe; coax, which is big in North America; and phone lines, which are big in Latin America. With a worldwide market, chip makers will likely see the costs of  their silicon drop and thus lead the way to lower-cost consumer devices with compatibility.
  2. The new standard is fast — able to deliver 20 times the throughput of current wireless technologies and three times the performance of wired-home networks. Some sources have thrown out delivery speeds of 700 Mbps although they admit in the real world that would decrease considerably.
  3. The standard isn’t backwards compatible with those already in existence today such as MoCA for coax, HomePlug for power lines and HomePNA for phone lines. That means the carriers and cable providers will either have to delay their home networking set-top box upgrades or buy backwards compatible chips — eliminating some of the cost savings for a time. Networks already deployed will have to be upgraded later. And consumers will need to check for backwards compatibility with their existing products.
  4. True products won’t appear in devices until 2010 at the earliest and likely 2011.
  5. If the standard takes off, it will make life difficult for specialty chip makers such as Intellon (itln), which makes HomePlug chips, or Entropic, which makes MoCA chips.

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