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February 17, 2004 Provided by System Dynamics Inc.

HomePNA -- Don't Count It Out

The last time we mentioned Home PNA in this newsletter was in June, 2003, when we noted that the Home Phoneline Networking Alliance had finalized the spec for version 3.0. In a recent call, Rich Nesin--president of HomePNA and VP of marketing at CopperGate Communications--suggested that we have been not been paying enough attention to HPNA as all or part of the solution for whole home networking.

We asked Rich what the facts were that made the arguments for HPNA 3.0 so compelling. Here is a brief synopsis of what we heard:

  • HPNA 3.0 runs not only over existing phonelines but also over existing coaxial cables, so for telcos it provides an additional means of transport of the signals.
  • The technology runs in the 4-21 MHz spectrum over coax so is suited for homes that are not running digital cable services.
  • Cheap ($3) combiners from companies like TII Network Technologies can make HPNA networks integrate with Ethernet or combine HPNA over phone lines with coax.
  • It is capable of 128 Mbps; the actual speed is about 90% of that at the MAC SAP layer, so it should achieve throughput of 100 Mbps or better.
  • It provides QoS, so it can transport video and could work with other protocols such as IEEE1394 that require inherent QoS.
  • Development chips now exist; product companies (CopperGate's customers) have designs and are ready to go when production chips come out; he expects products during 1H04.
  • V2 and V3 of HPNA can co-exist and operate at their full speeds.
  • Companies like ExtremeSpeed which have large market volumes in places like China are preparing products for the residential market.

We've previously noted that cable operators and vendors are working together through MoCA to use existing coax for high-speed networking. HPNA 3.0 offers another approach, best suited for telephone companies and others that don't depend on the standard cable "return spectrum" below 50 MHz.

We have devoted significant space in the past to articles on other new methods addressing high speed home networking. We invited Rich to author a guest article expanding upon the points we gleaned from our brief conversation, and look forward to publishing it in an upcoming issue.

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