Battle lines drawn - where are the mediators?
With big names on both sides, the stage is set for the inevitable 'standards war', a conflict companies backing either technology appear to be keen to promote.
Ironically, the market for powerline products remains well short of its potential, leading some commentators, such as David Waks of long running powerline news site Broadband Home Central, to throw their hands up and wonder why the likes of the HPA and HGF aren't working together to expand the market to the benefit of both.
That may yet happen, albeit indirectly. According to Jean-Philippe Fauré, head of the IEEE team charged with turning 1901 from a notion into a specification and then formalising it as a standard, interoperability provisions built into both 1901 and G.hn will ensure that the two standards can happily co-exist.
Co-existence is not compatibility, of course, but it ensures that if you put in place a 1901-based powerline network, the G.hn-based adaptors bundled with your broadband box by your service provider can be used too, without killing both LANs.
Fauré told Reg Hardware that both standards have agreed measures by which they will equally share the available mains bandwidth in the 2-30MHz band.
All very well for new 1901- and G.hn-based adaptors, but older HomePlug AV and UPA kit, all of which lack the co-existence tech, will likely kill them. Moral: if you upgrade one box to 1901 or G.hn, upgrade them all. This is not likely to be expensive.
And it may not be necessary to choose one new standard or the other, says Fauré. Mobile phone chips already support numerous networking technologies, each with distinct physical links - the so-called PHYs - and do so happily.
Savvy powerline chip makers can do the same, building support for both G.hn and 1901 into their products, allowing adaptor A to talk to adaptor B no matter which of the two standards the latter is dedicated to.
The G.hn specification contains one PHY, but 1901 has two. A three-PHY chip is not hard to do.
None of the chip makers eying either standard have yet gone public on plans to support both rather than one, but it's a logical step for them to make. The first powerline chip makers were relatively small operators, now long since acquired by big names - Intellon by Atheros, DS2 by Marvell, Gigle by Broadcom - who have the size to take on multi-standard developement efforts and the competitive motivation to do so.
The powerline standards war may yet be called off before the troops march into battle. ®
I have 2 media streamers in the house, neither of which have built in wireless (meaning extra adaptors) and I doubt I could stream 2 x 1080p movies at the same time, even over an 'N' WiFi network (not that I can at the moment, but the NAS is in the living room, so 1 streamer is connected directly). I have 4 of the Solwise AV200 units (1 byt the broadband router, 1 in the living room, 1 in the loft office and 1 in the bedroom) and they work excellently, IMO.
Err, no !
>> a total of 214 cases of interference have been reported to Ofcom
Cases reported is not the same thing as actual interference. The actual cases of interference are almost certainly higher.
>> they related to its adaptors, which were faulty
More likely, they weren't faulty at all, just being used (as OfCom put it) incorrectly by being plugged in ! There seem to be plenty of stories of BT replacing them with a piece of cable etc. Saying they are faulty is an excellent way of deflecting criticism, and of course, proving otherwise is impossible when they've conveniently been disposed of.
>> That leaves 18 cases of clear interference from powerline adaptors: 0.001% of the total installed base.
No, it leaves 214 **reported** cases of clear interference, of which some were *claimed* to be because of faulty units.
Put simply, the current bunch are not fit for purpose, cause known interference problems, and it's not just radio amateurs who are worried about them. The CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) are worried about them - are you going to suggest that the CAA (who have a responsibility for safety in aviation) are just whining ?
OfCom know they cause problems, and they DO have the legal means of banning them - but as is normal for OfCom they won't do anything that might annoy big business. They're a watchdog - they watch but do b***er all else unless big business asks them to roll over and have their tummy tickled.
Agree with Unexpected Bill - why the high price?
Really I think the price is what puts most people off from using powerline networking. Why does it have to cost upwards of USD$90 retail to get a pair of these devices? WiFi wins by a huge margin on price alone, even disregarding the mobility/nomadicity it offers.
I currently use powerline networking at my house to connect my entertainment center equipment into the rest of my home network, where a WiFi link was flaky at best, and where it appears near impossible to pull cat5. It works spendidly, getting close to the rated 85 Mbps without any noticeable problems. I'd use more of it, and recommend much more of it as well, if the price was competitive.