– Will No Longer Keep It a Secret
China Telecom is the world’s largest telco as measured by number of telephone subscribers. It may soon become the world’s largest purchaser of home network gear so its selection of G.hn as its wireline standard will send shockwaves throughout the home networking industry.
China Telecom (CT) outlined its G.hn plans for field tests and then deployment at a meeting this week (Wednesday) in its headquarters in Beijing with equipment and G.hn chip makers. It said it would no longer keep secret its selection of G.hn as its standard wireline technology. Those plans will hearten G.hn backers.
Having already successfully conducted in-house trials, CT said it would start conducting field trials by the end July and wants to accelerate to deployments by end of year.
– The field trials will take place in three to six provinces, each of which will have at least 100 locations.
– The product makers are reportedly all well known Chinese brands but we have not yet been able to find out which ones. It’s said there are about six equipment makers involved.
– Marvell chips are in the first test products. Products with Sigma Design’s newly certified G.hn chips would also be included in all the field trials. G.hn chips from Metanoia are expected for the start up of the trials and perhaps shortly thereafter Xingtera’s G.hn chips. The HomeGrid Forum, which conducts G.hn certification, has not yet said publicly that Metanoia and Xingtera’s G.hn chips have been certified.
– Attending the meeting were the CT director responsible for home networks and his staff, CT research labs people who evaluated all G.hn chips and systems from March through May, six to eight representatives from equipment makers and, of course, representatives of the four G.hn chipmakers: Marvell, Sigma Designs, Metanoia and Xingtera.
All of the field trials are for the powerline version of G.hn.
CT said it hopes to learn from the trials what the field deployment experience is like, the mitigation of neighboring network interference, any interoperability problems and real world customer issues that no lab tests can ever fully replicate.
CT did not say it, and we had even heard but could never confirm that CT tested MoCA, but it probably never seriously considered MoCA and the coax version of G.hn because there are so few homes in China where every room is connected to a coax network.
There is a big market in China for Wi-Fi because consumers want to connect portable devices to the Internet.
CT did not mention HomePlug and CT’s selection of G.hn must be a disappointment to makers of HomePlug chips and equipment. CT’s move also means that G.hn has a major in-road into the world’s telcos, whose universally available telephone networks mean that in time they could become the largest purchasers of home network gear, purchasing more that cable and satellite TV companies combined.
Repeated delays in completing the G.hn standard and in building and certifying G.hn chips would, many thought, give the HomePlug chipmakers time to complete the AV2 version and compete successfully against G.hn for the telcos’ business. It could be that G.hn beat HomePlug AV2 to the punch or the fact that G.hn is an ITU standard that made the difference. The United Nations-owned ITU is the telcos’ “most favored” standards body.
HomePlug practically owns the retail marketplace despite the MoCA crowd’s attempts to unseat it. Powerline networking has the advantage over coax because practically every home in the world has an electrical outlet in every room; many have electrical outlets on every wall in every room. (Count the number of them in the bathroom.) G.hn will have a hard time edging into the retail market — although the retail chain Best Buy is a long time G.hn member.
We would not be surprised if AT&T is the next to announce for G.hn although it would more likely be mostly for the coax version of it to replace coax-based HPNA, which it currently uses. That would be a loss for the MoCA crowd although they would not lose any of their current deployers, which are Verizon and the world’s cablecos and satcos — a very large and growing marketplace.
As we have reported frequently, Sigma Designs, the sole producer of HPNA chips, has repeatedly said it will make a single chipset that is both G.hn and HPNA. That means telcos like AT&T could then purchase, stock, ship and deploy one box that automatically connects to existing HPNA networks but would automatically configure to G.hn where there is no HPNA.
The next big battle, assuming that G.hn will soon win the one for the telcos, will be for makers of CE devices. The question is who will succeed in convincing CE makers to build in their chips. HomePlug has a jump in that market because Hisense is doing exactly that by embedding Qualcomm Atheros HomePlug chips in …
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