Powerline Networking - End of the Road for G.hn?by Ganesh T S on January 17, 2014 9:30 AM EST
I have been making it a point to catch up on the state of the powerline networking industry every CES, and this year was no different. In 2013, I had talked about how G.hn and HomePlug were heading for a showdown. A year later, it looks like G.hn's claims haven't materialised into anything concrete. Over the last year, G.hn decided to concentrate solely on the service provider market, and within that, mainly in the China region and other places where HomePlug hadn't taken root yet. The HomeGrid (G.hn) forum announced a number of partnerships, but I heard from industry sources that none of these announcements have resulted in any shipping products yet.
G.hn had two major trump cards over HomePlug when it was brought up as an alternative. The first one being the ability to obtain gigabit-level speeds, and the second one being the ability to operate over any wire (powerline, coax or phone line). With the launch of HPAV2, the first trump card has been lost. Will the second trump card be attractive enough for service providers to risk choosing it over what is proven technology? It looks unlikely based on what I heard and saw at CES. I have been checking out really awesome demonstrations of the capbilities of G.hn from Sigma Designs (back in 2011) and Marvell (in 2013), but I am left wondering what is preventing them from coming to the market. It would be great to hear more on this in the comments section from readers familiar with this space.
On the other hand, HomePlug is going from strength to strength. Over the last year, they have cornered the 'PLC for electric cars' market, developed a certification program (Netricity) for long-distance low-frequency narrow band PLC (up to 500 kbps below 500 kHz) and launched the nVoy certification program for IEEE P1905.1 hybrid networking products.
The HomeGrid forum had its fair size of news to share too, but the real success of a technology lies in shipping announced products to end users (be it service providers or retail consumers). As of now, I am not aware of any shipping G.hn product. All the networking vendors (catering to the service provider market) that I talked to at CES seem to be committed to HomePlug for the near future. None of them have any G.hn products in their pipeline currently. If this is the state even three years after silicon was first demonstrated, I am not sure how G.hn can make inroads any further (considering that one of their trump cards is no longer on the table).