Why Aren’t G.hn and HomePNA Included in P1905?

The G.hn (HomeGrid) and HomePNA (HPNA) home network standards are not currently included in the IEEE’s P1905 effort, although HomePlug 1901 and MoCA are included, possibly because of competition, according to usually reliable sources that claim accurate knowledge of the events. P1905 is an attempt to develop a bridging layer that will encompass multiple home networking technologies.

When the P1905 group met in December 2010, G.hn and HomePNA members were represented and intended to have their standards added to P1905. However, at some point during the December meeting, G.hn and HPNA were excluded with no reasons given publicly, although details of the meeting have not been disclosed. However, the G.hn and HomePNA camp found their exclusion unacceptable and they are appealing the ruling with the IEEE.

Their appeal is to stop the removal of G.hn and HPNA from P1905. The appeal seeks to overturn the vote against G.hn and HPNA on procedural issues. It’s expected to be a subject at a meeting next week on April 27 at IEEE in New Jersey.
The appeal does not appear to be an attempt to block P1905. Several HPNA and G.hn supporters have said they believe that an open P1905 standard is needed by the market and that they support P1905 if HPNA and G.hn are included.

As we reported last week, P1905’s charter clearly states that the spec is written so that other networking technologies can be added. The question is why G.hn and HPNA are not included now.

The future versions MoCA 2.0 and HomePlug AV2 were not included in P1905, as we reported last week, so a case might be made that P1905 should not include standards that are not completed and have no system products on the market as is the case with G.hn. There are currently no known boxes with G.hn on the market. However, the G.hn standard was completed last year (2010) and several G.hn chipmakers have said they will have components this year, well before the 1905 standard is agreed upon.

However, HPNA is an existing standard, and HPNA products are being installed. HPNA proponents say there are about 20 million HPNA devices installed compared to an estimated 35 million for MoCA. HPNA supporters also say they have a much larger installed base than the current AV version of HomePlug, not including the original HomePlug 1.x version, which still has a larger installed base than HomePlug AV.

The P1905 committee has strong ties to HomePlug. The chairman is Paul Houze of France Telecom-Orange, a very large deployer of HomePlug in its pay-TV efforts. The vice chairman is Qualcomm’s Purva Rajkotia who was with the HomePlug chipmaker Intellon when Atheros bought it.

G.hn and HomePNA supporters are upset by the move to exclude their network standards because:

1) Technical merits don’t appear to be the justification for their exclusion.

2) HomePNA is here and now and should be included. Its supporters say it’s being installed in about 25,000 devices a day, perhaps as many as MoCA, and it has a larger installed base than HomePlug AV. HPNA has been in existence for several years and has about 20 million devices installed compared to MoCA’s 30 million. In light of this, excluding HPNA from the P1905 specification does not seem to be justified.

3) The basis is not clear for excluding some networking technologies and including others. For example, the 1901 spec that was developed to make HomePlug AV and Panasonic’s HD-PLC standards-based and coexistent on the same wire is included in P1905 even though there are no products currently being shipped, to the best of our knowledge, with full 1901 functionality, including the Inter-System Protocol (ISP) for coexistence. IEEE 1901 specifies ISP as the mandatory coexistence mechanism, we’re told, and without it, these two powerline networks cannot operate on the same wire.

It’s understandable that G.hn might be excluded because STBs, routers and other products with G.hn are not currently available. G.hn chips are not yet available in the kinds of quantities equipment makers need for a production line.

G.hn is an attempt that, excluding Wi-Fi and wireline Ethernet, surpasses P1905’s ambitions in that it will allow for a single network standard over coax, powerline and telephone wires. G.hn chipmakers could of course include Wi-Fi and wireline Ethernet in their G.hn chipsets.

P1905, on the other hand, is a bridging technology that will allow different network technologies to communicate with each other and to pass along data. P1905, unlike G.hn, HPNA, HomePlug AV and MoCA, is not itself a networking technology. It is a common interface to the networking technologies themselves and includes bridging for Wi-Fi and wireline Ethernet unlike G.hn.

Perhaps MoCA and HomePlug supporters think they need P1905 to level the playing field with G.hn.

G.hn may be a bigger threat to HomePlug than to MoCA because supporters say that its powerline capabilities will be superior to HomePlug, even to HomePlug AV2.

By excluding G.hn and HPNA from P1905, the HomePlug and MoCA camp could have a competitive advantage. However, G.hn proponents say this is against the IEEE sanctioned method for defining a standard.

Using P1905 to add Wi-Fi and Ethernet to G.hn could make G.hn a disruptive force, especially in the telco marketplace . HomePlug AV is not as entrenched with the telcos as MoCA is with the world’s cablecos and others like Verizon and DirecTV that have standardized on MoCA.

P1905 is intended to allow multiple and differing network technologies to appear to upper-layer applications as a single connection type. It would allow products like IPTV STBs, gateways, PCs, smart appliances and other networked devices to use different network technologies and still pass along data without the device having to be aware of the medium used or the settings each has.

There are more than 250 million homes in North America, Europe and the Pac Rim that will soon have an Internet-connected TV set. Many will also have PCs, tablets and other devices connected to the Net via the home network. They need reliable and secure home network technologies.

The P1905 debate is not about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin as philosophers in the Middle Ages often debated about. It’s a multi-billion dollar debate about a vitally important element of delivering video and audio entertainment within the home.

It’s about open standards that allow for free and unfettered competition in the market, which will benefit consumers.

Let ‘em all play!

Current Voting Member of P1905
Atheros Intel
Broadcom Lantiq
Cisco Marvell
Entropic Panasonic
France Telecom Sigma Designs
HD-PLC Alliance SPiDCOM Technologies
HomeGrid Forum (G.hn) STMicroelectronics
HomePNA Alliance Toshiba
The HomePlug Alliance and MoCA are not members. However, HomePlug
chipmakers Atheros and Sigma Designs are members, along with MoCA chipmakers
Entropic and Broadcom.

About the Author

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