Friday, April 01, 2011

Panasonic to Show Powerline Networking technology at CES

Panasonic plans to unveil a networking system that can connect an electric car to home devices via electrical wiring at January's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The electric car networking prototype allows people and devices inside the home to check on an electric vehicle while it is being recharged. It will be one of several research developments on show at the HD-PLC Alliance stand in the Las Vegas Convention Center's South Hall, Panasonic said Friday. Other prototypes will include an HD-PLC adapter for a security camera and an electrical monitoring system.

HD-PLC (High-Definition Powerline Communications) is a Panasonic-developed technology that utilizes the electricity cabling already present inside a home or building to send and receive data. It's competing in the market with the HomePlug Powerline Alliance and Universal Powerline Association to become the dominant standard for data connections over such cabling. All three systems have the advantage of not requiring dedicated Ethernet cabling, but all three are largely incompatible.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

NRTC lands two new smart grid product offerings

The National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative, a service organization with rural telco and utility members, this week added two new offerings to the portfolio of smart grid solutions it offers to its members. The new offerings include wireless communications equipment from Sensus that uses licensed frequencies and a next-generation SCADA offering from Efacec, said NRTC Vice President of Marketing Phil Brenner in an interview with Connected Planet.

Equipment manufacturers such as these like to work with NRTC as a means of breaking into the rural utility market, which consists of about 900 small companies scattered around the country, Brenner said. Meanwhile, NRTC members get better pricing than they would be able to obtain on their own, along with some assurance that products are “rural-ready,” Brenner said.

He noted, for example, that the average rural utility in NRTC has seven customers per mile of line—and some products are only economical for serving urban and metro areas that have dozens of customers per line mile. NRTC, he said, has engineering and business development staff whose job is to verify the functionality of potential new products, along with the business case for the product, before making a product available to NRTC members.

Complete Article

Monday, March 28, 2011

Is 2011 The Year of Powerline Networking?

Having followed the home networking market for over a decade, I’ve gleaned a few lessons along the way:

1. A decade is probably too long to analyze any market, let alone home networking.
2. It’s a market of a thousand turf wars — many of them over now — for physical layers, software protocols and product categories. (Fun piece of home network nostalgia for the day: While Intel no doubt helped Wi-Fi go mainstream with Centrino, the company once saw Home RF as the future of the wireless home. Luckily for them, they eventually came to their senses.)
3. The home network has become a critical but largely invisible services platform for all things from Netflix to pay TV.
4. As connected entertainment becomes the dominant traffic and demand driver, the nature of the home network itself is changing.

One technology, Wi-Fi (and the spec underlying the Wi-Fi brand, 802.11x) not only won the turf wars, but effectively dropped a nuclear bomb on any competing networking technologies. In fact, it’s a pretty easy argument to make that Wi-Fi has been the single most important technology in the connected-home marketplace for the past decade.

But while Wi-Fi continues to be required on any connected entertainment device, that doesn’t mean the experience of Wi-Fi is always optimal. Anyone whose streamed Netflix over a significant range or a few walls knows the quality of the stream falls off pretty quickly, and sometimes will not work at all.

So what else is there? In the pay-TV space, U.S. providers like Verizon have settled on MoCA (a coax-based networking technology), while many European IPTV providers have adopted powerline, in particular HomePlug, for in-home distribution.