HomePlug Powerline technology will improve the performance of new and existing home networks around the world, expand mobility and define smart energy applications. Service providers and consumers will find that adding intelligence to the wire provides many simple yet powerful capabilities for next-generation multimedia and smart energy applications.
What is HomePlug?
The HomePlug Alliance consists of nearly 60 companies that collaborate to develop technical specifications and product certifications for HomePlug Powerline products (similar to what the Wi-Fi Alliance does for wireless products). When consumers shop online and see a product with the “HomePlug Certified” logo, it means that the product was designed according to the HomePlug specification and has been tested to ensure quality and interoperability with other products , regardless of the manufacturer of the product. For end users, they are able to mix and match HomePlug products from their preferred manufacturers while ensuring they meet HomePlug interoperability and performance testing. Service providers can reap similar benefits, and HomePlug products have proven to be a reliable mechanism for delivering premium services such as IPTV to consumers’ devices.
In HomePlug products, for example, wires can be used as an extension to Ethernet. Imagine you can plug your PS3 into a power outlet and go online directly from the power outlet, or connect your TV, NAS (Network Attached Storage) and computer all at the same time via wires. Plug in one of the HomePlug adapters next to your router, then another adapter next to your PS3, TV, Roku Box…then use some short ethernet cables to connect those adapters to the device to provide wired high-speed Internet access to the device. Don’t worry, wireless technology isn’t a forgotten corner either. Many HomePlug adapters now have a Wi-Fi chip that replays the router’s Wi-Fi signal no matter where it’s plugged in, while still providing an Ethernet connection to a game console, set-top box, or other stationary device.
Evolution of Power Lines in Multimedia Applications
Powerline technology has been around since the 1980s, but the previous user experience was usually not very good. This is because older technologies (like X10) work at lower frequencies and cannot work in multiple phases or legs of a circuit breaker. With the advent of the HomePlug, the carrier frequency jumped from kHz to MHz, and power line technology was able to couple to multiple phases, overcoming the impedance present at lower frequencies. Through the use of variable rate loading, higher modulation schemes and advanced technology such as strong error correction coding, HomePlug technology provides higher performance, while improving the coverage of the whole home. This has strongly influenced HomePlug, making it the powerline technology of choice for digital home connectivity.
Currently, HomePlug AV devices are rated at 200 or 500 Mbps. The 200 Mbps solution allows users to reliably stream HD media and play online games, while the 500 Mbps solution allows users to enhance coverage and performance, stream HD media to multiple rooms, and play 3D games. When used in conjunction with Wi-Fi, HomePlug technology acts as a backbone, extending wireless distances, thereby eliminating dead spots in the home.
Listed below are the main features implemented by contemporary HomePlug Powerline (HomePlug AV):
High speed: 200Mbps physical layer rate (up to 500Mbps when using IEEE 1901 enhancements)
Robust error correction, line synchronization, variable rate loading, and reliable data transfer
Whole home coverage – Internet connectivity at every power outlet
Button authentication function, setup and security are very simple
The Application of New Generation HomePlug in Multimedia
In January, the HomePlug Alliance announced the HomePlug AV2 specification. This new HomePlug technology significantly improves performance and coverage over powerline broadband networks, while maintaining full interoperability with existing HomePlug AV standard products used in millions of consumers’ homes and widely available in service providers and retail stores . HomePlug AV2 technology can achieve gigabit-level speeds in each power outlet in the home, making it ideal for demanding home networking applications such as multi-room IPTV, online gaming, online video, high-definition audio and other applications carried by the home network, especially When multiple high-definition data streams are transmitted simultaneously. The main features implemented by HomePlug AV2 are listed below:
Gigabit-level physical layer rate
Supports MIMO (Multiple Input and Multiple Output) physical layer
Supports multiple AV2 configurations (SISO, MIMO), providing differentiated solutions to meet various performance requirements
Only HomePlug AV2 SISO operation
Inherent repeater function for whole-home coverage
Delivers multiple streams of high-definition video and audio programs
Interoperable with HomePlug AV, HomePlug Green PHY and IEEE 1901 devices
Three working modes (active, standby, idle) to save energy
Application of HomePlug in Hybrid Network (IEEE 1905.1)
Whether to choose the performance of a wired network or the mobility of a wireless network often confuses consumers. Because of this, the IEEE has released a new hybrid home networking specification (IEEE 1905.1) that takes advantage of widely adopted standards including IEEE 802.11 Wi-Fi, IEEE 802.3 Ethernet, IEEE 1901 (HomePlug) Powerline, and MoCA coaxial cable standard. IEEE 1905.1 is a software abstraction layer that will be designed into fixed and mobile devices for a seamless user experience regardless of the connection method. Hybrid networks using IEEE 1905.1 are already supported by a wide range of industry standards, including service providers, product manufacturers and chip manufacturers.
In a press release issued in January this year, the HomePlug Alliance expressed support for the IEEE 1905.1 hybrid networking standard, claiming that the HomePlug Alliance is committed to supporting certification, interoperability and promotion of hybrid networking products.
Below are some examples of the hybrid network benefits offered by the HomePlug Alliance:
Backward compatibility means that service providers or end users will not lose their original investment when switching technologies;
Maximize the speed (throughput) of consumer applications regardless of proximity to the router;
Consumers no longer have to choose between the flexibility of Wi-Fi or the performance of power lines for home connectivity;
Advanced diagnostic capabilities enable service providers to easily debug the system;
1905.1 Quality of service ensures that other network services will not interrupt video transmission;
If a path is damaged, network glitches can be reduced by switching paths;
Improve end-user self-installation capabilities and achieve network security;
Broadband Internet access is available anywhere there is an outlet, coax jack, or Wi-Fi signal.
IEEE P1905.1 Standard Overview
1905.1 Hybrid Technology: 1905.1 Hybrid Technology
Application of HomePlug in Smart Energy
HomePlug introduces smart energy technology (Green PHY), which is fully interoperable with HomePlug’s multimedia class technologies (HomePlug AV and AV2), bridging the gap between smart energy and broadband/multimedia networks. HomePlug Green PHY is designed as a low-cost, low-resource flavor of HomePlug powerline communication technology to enable emerging applications such as smart appliances, electric vehicle charging and home energy management.
A related and exciting recent development in the smart energy/grid market is the creation of the SEP 2 Interoperability Consortium (CSEP). The consortium is an inclusive, communications technology-agnostic forum with the goal of unifying and accelerating the realization of interoperable SEP 2 products. It was formed by the HomPlug Alliance, the Wi-Fi Alliance, and the ZigBee Alliance. On July 31, 2012, CSEP issued a press release stating that it would create and maintain a certification test suite to verify the interoperability of various wired and wireless devices, and announced the successful completion of the first interoperability testing Plugfest . The efforts made by HomePlug and CSEP will enable consumers and utilities to control devices and energy usage in unprecedented ways. It is important to note that HomePlug’s Smart Energy technology will remain interoperable with existing broadband networks using HomePlug AV technology and future HomePlug AV2 technology.
The main functions implemented by HomePlug Green PHY are listed below:
Meet the requirements of energy companies/utilities companies and home appliance companies
Fully interoperable with HomePlug AV and AV2 network deployments
Time-sharing delivery of IPTV/media services with higher priority
Lowest HomePlug AV rate (QPSK modulation) for robust coverage and simple and economical architecture
Power saving mechanism, greatly reducing average energy consumption
Scalable, supports 64-256 nodes
Interoperability with widely deployed technologies in the market is critical to current and future home networks. Service providers, retailers and consumers have invested heavily in home networking products/technologies to meet widely deployed industry standards. In addition, smart energy trends further reinforce the importance of high-throughput multimedia and optimized interoperability of smart energy products on a single network. By introducing HomePlug AV, HomePlug AV2 and HomePlug Green PHY interoperability standards and supporting hybrid home networking technologies, the HomePlug Alliance will address the need for interoperability between multimedia devices and smart energy devices.
HomePlug continues to grow, with more than 300 certified HomePlug products, and more than 100 million product shipments deployed by service providers and retailed. HomePlug AV2 enables a whole new level of speed for multimedia applications on the home network, and with HomePlug AV2 we expect to see faster HomePlug products in the future. In addition, the HomePlug Alliance through HomePlug Green PHY and through alliances with the Wi-Fi Alliance and the Zigbee Alliance to form the Smart Energy Profile 2 Consortium (CSEP), we expect to see HomePlug products go greener. Finally, as HomePlug is included in the IEEE 1905.1 specification and Wi-Fi continues to be integrated, the trend toward hybridization of HomePlug products is expected to intensify.
HomePlug-based connected home
HomePlug GP: HomePlug GP
HomePlug AV: HomePlug AV
Electric Car & Charging Station: Electric Car & Charging Station
Security Cameras: Security Cameras
Gaming System: Gaming System
Smart Meter: Smart Meter Reading System
Smart Thermostat: Smart Thermostat
HDTV: High Definition Television
Desktop PC: Desktop PC
Blu-ray player/Set-top-box: Blu-ray player/Set-top box
Air Conditioner: Air Conditioner