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Wireline networking groups merge to form HomeGrid Forum

A new networking industry consortium, HomeGrid Forum, has been formed to unify efforts behind the G.hn wireline/powerline network standard while continuing support for the older HomePNA technology.

Wi-Fi is fine for ease of use and category 6 Ethernet cable is great for when you need real speed, but sometimes you just want to network a building without Wi-Fi's perpetual security concerns and without dragging cable. For those times, you need wireline networking, which uses powerlines and other existing wired infrastructure for networking. Alas, wireline technologies have been ham-strung because of competing standards for years.

In late May, two of the major factions finally buried the hatchet to work together on G.hn technologies.


G.hn, which was pioneered by Marvell, promises to bring up to 1Gigabit per second speeds over your existing powerline, co-ax, and phone lines. G.hn, is “any wire” technology defined by ITU-T open international standards to help with small office/home office (SOHO) networking.

The newly formed group, HomeGrid Forum, stated that it's "committed to support the tens of millions of HomePNA devices already deployed worldwide with a defined migration path to G.hn." HomePNA's technology uses existing phone-line and co-ax cabling to deliver networking services.

"The merger was a natural evolution for the two organizations. There was tremendous synergy between us and what we were both aiming to achieve,” said HomeGrid Forum president John Egan in a statement.

“The core focus of both organizations was to support technologies based on open ITU-T Standards that provide wired home networks for service providers to meet their customers’ needs for robust, high-speed networking with the highest Quality of Service. This remains the primary goal of the expanded HomeGrid Forum. As service providers consider their next steps beyond HomePNA or any other wireline home network technology, they can be confident in our vision and migration plan that maximizes the value of the installed base while providing a smooth transition plan to G.hn."

With a membership that includes industry, networking, and ISP powerhouses such as Intel, Cisco, and AT&T behind the group's efforts, it seems likely that G.hn has the potential to achieve the market acceptance that eluded earlier wireline technologies. Speaking as someone who's used powerline networks for years as a quick and easy way to network homes and small offices where Wi-Fi proved problematic, I hope that the consortium and its technology lives up to its promise.

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