Six home networking technologies to watch

Three main wired and three wireless systems are being showcased at CES

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3. WirelessHD

WiGig isn't alone at 60GHz. WirelessHD is already built in to adapters for equipment such as projectors and home theaters. It has a theoretical top speed of 28G bps, according to its biggest proponent, chip vendor Silicon Image. At CES, Silicon Image will demonstrate a WirelessHD chip for smartphones and tablets. The UltraGig 6400 mobile 60GHz WirelessHD transmitter was announced last month and is already shipping to manufacturers in sample quantities. It can send and receive video at resolutions up to 1080p with multi-channel sound, for linking a portable device with a big-screen TV, according to Silicon Image. The company also included MHL, (Mobile High-Definition Link), a system for wired high-speed connections between mobile devices and home electronics.

4. HomePlug AV2

HomePlug is a set of technologies for transmitting data over the electrical wiring in a home. It serves as the backbone of a network that reaches TVs, tablets, gaming consoles and other devices via Wi-Fi or Ethernet. Adapters that plug into conventional wall sockets make that connection. HomePlug's latest iteration, HomePlug AV2, offers "gigabit-class" speeds and can transmit high-definition video streams from a central set-top box to TVs around the home. according to the HomePlug Powerline Alliance. HomePlug AV2 was introduced about a year ago. Qualcomm Atheros announced a HomePlug AV2 chipset in October and said it was shipping to manufacturers in sample quantities. That chipset offers throughput of more than 500M bps, Qualcomm Atheros said. HomePlug technologies will be demonstrated in the TechZone at CES.

5. MOCA 2.0

The Mutimedia over Coax Alliance's technology for home networking runs over the coaxial cables that sprout from the walls of most homes in North America and are also used in parts of Europe and Asia. Coax is the backbone of cable TV, and MOCA positions its MOCA 2.0 technology as ideal for distributing video around homes. It claims 400M bps of actual throughput in MOCA 2.0's standard mode and 800M bps in Enhanced Performance Mode. MOCA 2.0 should be able to distribute UltraHD video from a one set-top box to others, said Rob Gelphman, vice president of marketing and member relations at MOCA. Despite the long rivalry between MOCA and HomePlug, Gelphman said each is best in different situations. HomePlug can go into more rooms because it uses electrical sockets, while MOCA's hallmark is reliability, he said. "Nobody is the singular silver bullet," Gelphman said.

6. G.hn

There's also a fresh, new standard that spans all wired media in homes, called G.hn (Gigabit Home Networking). Having one standard for powerline, coax, copper wire and plastic optical fiber allows vendors to make just one product for use with all those media, its backers say. G.hn is based on standards from the ITU (International Telecommunication Union) but doesn't interoperate with the technologies out there now. Last month, G.hn backers HomeGrid Forum announced they had issued their first certification of silicon. On Monday, Sigma Designs announced a G.hn chipset for distributing video, data and voice over coax, powerlines and copper wire. The company expects the CG5200 to be in volume production by the second quarter.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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