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).

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  • vision33r - Friday, January 17, 2014 - link

    The problem with Powerline is it's not scalable cheaply. You can't have mobile devices attach to it easily and in a big house it's a lot easier to have Wireless repeaters. I can throw up multiple AC wireless routers and cover the entire house and all mobile devices support atleast N. By next year almost all mobile devices will have AC support and streaming Hidef is a thing of the past. Reply
  • Bob Todd - Friday, January 17, 2014 - link

    Pity, as one standard that included coax as well would have been very nice. There are tons of variables for a home network, and just because AC WiFi is good enough for some people in some dwellings for some use cases does not mean it is good enough everywhere. Even with AC, I've had to set up a MoCA network in the past for HTPC usage (using cheap Verizon FiOS routers off eBay). For some applications, especially in large houses, I'd much rather have a rock solid 100Mb MoCA connection than AC.

    And my experience with Powerline has been piss poor. It was a few years ago in a new construction house, but even in the same room on different outlets I could only manage a few Mb during testing. On different floors where I actually needed it was a total joke. I was getting single digit kB/s with constantly dropped connections. This was with the Belkin "Gigabit" Powerline kit shortly after it came out. Updating the firmware to the latest version didn't help at all. Hopefully comparability has improved since then. Just make sure you buy your Powerline kit from somewhere that makes returns easy, as it might be the best thing since sliced bread where you live, or it may not work for squat. Coax networking is much closer to a sure thing.
    Reply
  • azazel1024 - Friday, January 17, 2014 - link

    Powerline deffinitely has its place. Its sadly still a lot slower than most wireless in a lot of applications, but it deffinitely fits in to the "fast enough" catagory in most cases. It's also great where wireless is really congested, or not an option.

    I am looking at it as a stop gap measure for a few years to add coverage to my property. On a little over an acre and a large part of our backyard isn't covered. It'd be nice to have some wifi coverage over there sometimes and neither of the inside routers can make it. A shed isn't too far away, and there is (nominally) power running to the shed. I just have to reconnect it (former owner cut the powerline just inside the garage...for no apparent reason), slap on a couple of powerline adapters and hook-up the spare WAP I happen to have laying around and I should have sufficient coverage then.

    Its not outdoor rated, but it'll be out of direct exposure and I'll probably pull it late fall and reinstall early spring as the area won't be used during the really cold months anyway. I don't need much, extending my wireless network with something that can handle 15-30Mbps would be more than sufficient. Its a lot better than the LTE speeds we can get on our phones "round these parts", and no cell data use then (and laptops and tablets can also then have a connection).

    In a few years when I raze the shed and build a studio in its place, I have to redo the electric for 240V and I'll lay fiber out to it at the same time for a true, proper high speed connection, but its a great band-aid for now and prevents me from needing to spend the time and effort running 150ft of trench for fiber right now and wireless extenders are not an option.
    Reply
  • azazel1024 - Friday, January 17, 2014 - link

    I've noticed a few people mention horrible issues and at least one mention "and it was with a new build house". I haven't confirmed this for 100%, but as far as I know Arc Fault Circuit Interupters cause SERIOUS problems for Homeplug networking. I don't know if this only applies if your homeplug device happens to be on an AFCI breaker, or if simply having one present in your breaker box is enough to screw it up.

    I think international code was updated aroud 2000 or so to mandate the installation of AFCI for bedroom spaces and living spaces. The most likely places you'll be installing homeplugs.

    So actually older builders are the best place for homeplug, not newer builds.

    Also whole house surge protectors can also skew things.

    http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/lanwan/lanwan-basic...

    Some AFCIs work okay, others cause serious problems.
    Reply
  • jaysouth2000@yahoo.com - Monday, January 20, 2014 - link

    Jabin Jay Trapp said, Wireless networking mileage may very, any signal strength drop and throughput drops considerably. with powerline networking, this is a moot point. Do some throughput tests with less then excellent signal strength and the facts will appear before your eyes Reply
  • oldmanegan - Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - link

    John Egan, president of HomeGrid -
    I have come to respect Anandtech over the years for clear, concise, and accurate reporting that is unbiased. But with this article I have to admit, I am scratching my head. Is Ganesh an independent reporter here or someone with a pro-HomePlug agenda?
    The article is so pro-HomePlug even Qualcomm has reposted it, almost as if this is an ad for them. I am sure it is not, but it is not in line with what I expect from Anandtech for fairness, accuracy and unbiased reporting.
    Let me explain:
    1. The use of the wording in the first text block: "but I heard from industry sources that none of these announcements have resulted in any shipping products yet" is as vague a reporting job as I have ever seen. Who were these sources? Qualcomm? The president of HomePlug? Who are the industry sources? Unattributed sources can mean anything. And anyone that may have an agenda so their statements should be suspect. This is a serious failure of a reporter to deliver on clean reporting.
    2. Ganesh says he went to CES to catch up on the state of the powerline industry. Hmmm. I was at the HGF booth nearly every minute the event was open and did not meet Ganesh nor was it reported to me he came by. Possibly, because G.hn covers all wires and not just powerlines, Ganesh felt he did not need to include G.hn in his visits, yet he reports on it? I am concerned over such reporting when a reporter misses a main actor in the topic and acts as if he has the latest information. Seems to be a mis-statement to say he caught up with the state of the powerline communications industry if he missed the HGF booth. Again, and unfortunately, placing Ganesh as suspect here.
    3. HomePlug AV2 has about 8 "profiles" of which only one is MIMO, which helps HP claim to have G.hn speeds (notice they do not mention they have achieved G.hn noise robustness). But many HomePlug systems claiming to be "AV2" do not have MIMO in them, just extended frequency ranges or some other "under the hood" refinements that bring them closer to G.hn. To fall for the claim that AV2 is only MIMO and that is catches up to G.hn means Ganesh sat with HomePlug spin doctors, and did not get an unbiased set of information points. Again, a very sad day for Anandtech, as I see it. Promoting skewed reality is not stating facts.
    4. MIMO is great, where there are three wire circuits in the home. Ganesh seems to think this is everywhere globally, showing a possible US-centric mindset that "if it is here in US then it must be elsewhere." A very unfortunate mindset. A poor mindset for a reporter, as well. AV2 with MIMO may help HP claim parity with G.hn, but not in reality. Ganesh is invited to speak with me anytime and I will give him an accurate set of statements he can verify and see that HGF does not rely on spin doctoring to deliver positive statements.
    5. There are numerous reasons why G.hn out-classes HomePlug of any flavor. Ganesh should do a real job and research and come back with unspun facts to do your readers a real service.
    6. If Ganesh had come by the HGF booth he would have seen public demonstrations of: A single network showing Interop of 6 systems vendors and 3 silicon vendors all in one high demand network where one node was feeding 6 others streaming HD IPTV at 10-15 Meg each. Something you do not see from others, a MIMO demo showing interop of vendors and SISO and MIMO modes - showing we continue to outpace the other guys- and publicly, a demo of G.hn over coax with HomePNA (which could have been MoCA or RF video) showing the nature of G.hn coexistence, and a demo of Ultra-HD (4K) video over G.hn powerline (a CES first, but one we have already shown in Taiwan) in one network right next door to another network - a scenario that the other guys cannot do, regular IPTV or U-HD, as HomePlug technology finds it problematic to work over powerlines in an appartment building where cross-interference will effect service. G.hn is "invisible" to itself in these conditions. Oh, and if Ganesh wishes to verify this, the ITU standards for G.hn are publicly available and he could see what I am saying is right from the standard as to neighboring G.hn networks.
    HomeGrid is in business to promote G.hn globally, and one commitment the market has and will continue to see form us is accuracy. So, check us out and feel free to engage us, we look forward to the opportunity to set things straight, with statements you can independently verify as fully accurate.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - link

    Mr. Egan,

    We have interacted on the phone before and I have had the chance to be on multiple phone briefings with you over the last few years. In the CES visits prior to 2014, I had been invited by one or the other HomeGrid forum member to check out the G.hn offerings. In 2011, it was Sigma Designs. Last year, it was Marvell. I have in fact been very very bullish on G.hn in my coverage over the last three years.

    To set the record straight, this year, HomePlug invited me to a briefing, which I did take up. There was no invite from any of the HomeGrid members (unlike the previous years). Despite this, I took it upon myself to check what HomeGrid had been up to at CES 2014, and I did make note of those in the concluding section.

    As for the interoperability demos being shown at CES -- HomePlug had those in their meeting rooms, but I didn't cover those either. However, I did cover G.hn's interoperability demos last year.

    Addressing your concerns one by one:

    I have been part of the AnandTech editorial team since March 2010. I don't have any agenda -- either pro-HomePlug or anti-HomeGrid :: I report based on facts.

    2. If there are 'shipping products' based on G.hn - please let me know and I would definitely love to set the record straight right here. Part of this piece is based on my briefing with HomePlug at CES, but the statement you find issue with is from my interaction with networking product vendors -- I talked to Netgear, ZyXEL, D-Link and TRENDnet - None of them are planning any G.hn products in their portfolio in the near future.

    As for AV2 and MIMO - The QCA7500 supports MIMO and both TP-LINK and TRENDnet confirmed to me that they will support MIMO in their products (which were on display at CES).

    Please take a look at my previous pieces on G.hn vs. HomePlug here:

    http://anandtech.com/show/4147/ghn-silicon-emerges...

    http://anandtech.com/show/4882/ghn-gains-momentum-...

    http://anandtech.com/show/6662/ghn-and-homeplug-he...

    For three years, I have been covering HomeGrid / G.hn and presenting a balanced view -- In fact, it may even seem that G.hn has been given a long pole despite the absence of any shipping products.

    I have multiple HomePlug products at home. Last year, I tried to arrange for a G.hn powerline kit to test in-house from Marvell -- there was no follow up. As I specified in the beginning of this post, if there are any shipping G.hn products, please let me know the model number / market in which it is being shipped (along with deployment numbers). Of course, I would love to talk to the service providers themselves and have independent confirmation of the numbers -- After all, we like to report facts here.
    Reply
  • oldmanegan - Saturday, January 25, 2014 - link

    Hi Ganesh,
    Unfortunatyely, the reply post was not flagged to me in email and I am only now checking your site to see if you had replied.

    I find it interesting that you list two of the companies that were inthe HGF Booth as part of the multi-vendor IOP demo that I mentioned. Both ZyXEl and D-Link were in the demo.

    It seems that you made a determination with out all of the facts and, yes, I will address inside HGF any reasons why you did nto have an invite to our booth, as you say. However, as a good reporter, you are responsible to go get a complete set of facts, especially as you stated in your first sentence: "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." As you did not go out and get the state of the industry, you went and got a small view of it from HomePlug it seems. And, if you spoke to the vendor reps to HomePlug at their booth you may have gotten a very limited view of the market and their companies' views, as they may not be inthe same Business Units as those involved in G.hn. And, they may have been uncomfortable to say they were offering competing products while situated inside the HomePlug closed booth.

    If you had only walked by our open booth you would have seen the public demos and the names of the companies in the demos well displayed: AcBel, D-Link, Enable-IT, ARRIS, ZyXel, and Comtrend as I recall. Hard to say that ZyXEL and D-Link are uninvolved in G.hn designs and products when they are prominently displayed in live demos with finished products, No?

    I recommend that you reach out to me privately and we can take this offline. I will give you facts and statements you can verify and that will not claim something that is not factual as fact.

    As you said, you like to report facts here, please do so then and make sure not to set up a misleading article through an incomplete gathering of information.
    Reply
  • dougandh - Wednesday, January 29, 2014 - link

    Mr. Egan,

    Is there a list of G.hn products anywhere? I have done cursory searches and cannot find anything. I am very interested in testing some products and would appreciate your guidance.

    Regards,
    Douglas
    Reply

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