Who’s In and Who Wants to Be
Though 1905.1 is set, it is accompanied by a bit of controversy. A similar abstraction approach is used by G.hn, an International Telecommunication Union (ITU) standards family marketed by the HomeGrid Forum. John Egan, the group’s president and an executive with semiconductor provider Marvell Semiconductor Group, said that the biggest difference between 1905.1 and G.hn is that the latter incorporates Wi-Fi.
Egan claims that G.hn initially was a part of the 1905.1 standard, but was voted out at the end of the first meeting of the working group in Paris in December 2010 due to competitive pressure from Broadcom Corp. and Qualcomm Inc. He said that he so far has been rebuffed in efforts to get HomeGrid/G.hn written into 1905.1 and is working to line up support within IEEE at higher levels than the working group.
Rajkotia and Noelle Humenick, the senior manager of Professional Services for the IEEE Standards Association, said that inclusion of G.hn was considered at the December 2010 meeting, but ultimately not included because its technology was considered immature and lacking in interoperability. It never was officially in the standard, Humenick said.
She and Rajkotia said that G.hn’s proponents are free to try to get it edited into the standard. They said it is a two-fold process: The spec’s proponents first must apply for the right to make a verbal and written presentation to the working group. A majority vote is held. If the vote goes in favor of the group and the presentation made, a second vote is held. If 75 percent of the working group members vote in favor of the presenting group, the standard is edited as suggested. There now are 27 companies in the working group – including the HomeGrid Forum, Humenick said.
An approach to using electrical wiring to distribute signals was developed by the Home Phone Networking Alliance (HomePNA). G.hn and HomePNA announced a merger on May 28. Thus, Egan said, efforts to be included in IEEE 1905.1 extend to approaches brought to the group from HomePNA, as well.
Consumers may begin enjoying the benefits of nVoy next year. Ron Ranck, the president of HomePlug Alliance, said that nVoy is in the process of setting up the interoperability tests in advance of actual certifications. “The expectations…are that they will be certifying products by the end of 2013,” he said.
These competitive issues are not surprising considering the amount of money on the table. IDC Research Manager Michael Palma sees the standard as a key step forward. “I think it’s a critical element of the vision of home automation or even more broadly than home automation, the truly connected intelligent home,” he said. “That needs a solid infrastructure…and no one technology does everything the best.”