Wi-Fi Drives Changes in the Home Networking Dynamic

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    A lot of coverage has been given to the race between telecommunications providers to reach homes and businesses with high-speed broadband networks. But an equally important networking drama is occurring at the same time. It focuses on communications within homes and small to midsize businesses (SMBs). The current dynamic is aimed at empowering different protocols and standards to work together.

    At the CES in Las Vegas last week, the Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA), which pushes the use of coaxial cable for home and SMB networking, released data on the ongoing MoCA 2.0 field trials. The organization said that it is achieving throughput of 400 Megabits per second (Mbps) in 90 percent of all coax paths, and more than 350 Mbps in 95 percent. The trials, which will wrap up in March, are based on findings in 108 homes.

    Another MoCA-related announcement made at CES was from Entropic. The company said that its chips will drive Actiontec Electronics’ Echo Access Points, which is the whole-house solution that Bright House Networks is developing.

    The use of MoCA is an example of using two in-home wireless approaches to smooth down rough edges:

    Echo, powered by Entropic’s MoCA silicon, uses existing in-home coax wiring as a network backbone to eliminate Wi-Fi dead zones and provide more consistent bandwidth for Ultra High-Definition (HD) media, low latency online and cloud gaming, over-the-top (OTT) / Internet content and wireless entertainment anywhere in the home.

    Carriage of voice, video and data over power lines has always been seen as a possibility. The advantage, of course, is the ubiquity of in-home wiring. The problem is that in-home electrical networks weren’t built to do anything except carry juice. Electricity and fragile broadband transmissions are a difficult mix.

    But the HomePlug Alliance keeps trying and is making progress. The group, which claims that more than 125 million devices on the market support its approach, unveiled the first HomePlug AV2 Certified products. It also announced an AV2 Certification program.

    The press release outlines the advantages of HomePlug AV2. The sponsors say it is an ideal backbone for hybrid networks, that it supports multiple input and multiple output (MIMO) with beam forming and that it provides whole-home coverage with repeater functionality.

    HomePlug Alliance

    There are more entrants in the home networking race. The HomeGrid Forum pushes, which can be described as a meta-standard that works on all types of wiring. At CES, the group announced that Allion Labs is its testing organization and that KT Corp., formerly Korea Telecom, is its newest member.

    Until relatively recently, the battle for the home network was a traditional one in which there was expected to be a single big winner and a group of largely marginalized, niche players. The emergence of Wi-Fi and the whole-house concept has made it much more of an open game in which the different approaches will be used where they make sense.

    For instance, MoCA will be the ticket in the home entertainment hub of the home, while Wi-Fi will reach unwired rooms. Indeed, the two, and others, are finding themselves in the same device. The result of this “coop-itition” will be better served and more robust home and SMB networks.

    Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

    Carl Weinschenk
    Carl Weinschenk
    Carl Weinschenk Carl Weinschenk Carl Weinschenk is a long-time IT and telecom journalist. His coverage areas include the IoT, artificial intelligence, artificial intelligence, drones, 3D printing LTE and 5G, SDN, NFV, net neutrality, municipal broadband, unified communications and business continuity/disaster recovery. Weinschenk has written about wireless and phone companies, cable operators and their vendor ecosystems. He also has written about alternative energy and runs a website, The Daily Music Break, as a hobby.
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