How HomePlug Technologies Enhance the Consumer Experience © 2007 HomePlug Powerline Alliance How HomePlug Technologies Enhance the Consumer Experience A discussion on the requirements of the connected home, and how HomePlug technologies meet the tough demands of consumers By Oleg Logvinov and Jim Reeber, Arkados Inc. This paper discusses the merits of the development process used for all HomePlug specifica- tions. The HomePlug Powerline Alliance created a series of processes and a system of checks and balances in order to ensure that our specifications benefit the whole of the industry and are easily licensed between the industry 9s various stakeholders.
As a result, a great mind share of expert industry-wide talent worked to create best-in-class technologies. This paper also shares a compendium of independent test results and figures that support our claims. For those in the consumer electronics industry, every New Year brings a similar feeling: In the same moment that we countdown the waning sec- onds of the old year, we begin to count the seconds remaining until the opening of the International Consumer Electronics Show, which in 2007 cele- brated its 40 th anniversary.
Although both the New Year celebrations around the globe, and the CES show in Las Vegas, ... more. less.
are now a distant memory, the products introduced at CES 2007 are likely to stay with us 3and enhance our life with new entertainment options 3for dec- ades to come. Those who follow these trends will begin to notice that a dramatic shift is beginning to affect both the industry and consumers alike. But exactly what is this dramatic and revolutionary step that will change everything?<br><br> Is it hype? Or is it reality? Two recent CNET reviews provide examples of products that are standouts, and mark the next step for all of us who love movies and television: " Network AQUOS promises HD over power lines " Motorola's place-shifting set-top: Follow Me TV Both of these products are revolutionary.<br><br> But not simply because of the incredible picture or revolu- tionary concepts that they present, but because of how these items connect. These applications would not have been possible without a networking tech- nology that enables easy connectivity among all these devices. How HomePlug Technologies Enhance the Consumer Experience © 2007 HomePlug Powerline Alliance Understanding the Requirements What are the requirements for these connectivity technologies?<br><br> What makes this futuristic vision into a reality of today? Before embarking on any long and detailed devel- opment process, the HomePlug Alliance asks itself the questions above. REQUIREMENT #1 A high-bandwidth network has to be available eve- rywhere in the home; no corner of any room should be cdark d.<br><br> REQUIREMENT #2 Audio and video content has to be delivered per- fectly. In other words, pixilation and frame loss are not acceptable, and the user experience with the content must remain unchanged from one that uses dedicated wiring. REQUIREMENT #3 The connectivity technology must provide a high level of Quality of Service (QoS) to ensure reliable delivery of entertainment content, even in cases when the network becomes congested.<br><br> As networks become more and more overloaded with gaming, VoIP, Internet Browsing, and other traffic, QoS sets the priorities of these various applications. The alliance also addressed these topics: " The number of supported streams per ap- plication " Interoperability with HomePlug 1.0 tech- nology " Security " Geographical & Regulatory Requirements " Cost " Diagnostic capabilities Most digital applications for the home are easily supported with a network speed of about 1.5 to 2Mbps. HomePlug 1.0 technology can easily tackle these kinds of applications, like audio distribution, Internet sharing, wireless extension, gaming, and others.<br><br> The outliers are high-quality video applica- tions such as HDTV. Building a technology that can support a wide variety of simultaneous applica- tions including HDTV is the challenge. To illustrate, the following scenarios show a typical home and typical user experience and demands.<br><br> Scenario 1: Two-person family Scenario 2: Six-person family with small children Scenario 3: Six-person family with small children and teenagers Qty App Rate (Mbps) Qty App Rate (Mbps) Qty App Rate (Mbps) HDTV Home Theater 22 427.8 Mbps 1 22 427.8 1 22-27.8 1 22-27.8 SDTV 3 47 Mbps 1 3 47 3 9 421 2 6 414 Home Theater Audio 5.4 Mbps 1 5.4 1 5.4 1 5.4 CD Audio 0.8 x 2 Mbps 3 4.8 Phone 4VoIP (.064 + .016) x 2 = .160 Mbps 2 0.16 2 0.16 3 0.24 IP Data 2 Mbps 2 4 2 4 5 10 Total 7 34.5 444.4 9 40.6-58.4 15 48.4-62.2 Application App. Rate (Mbps) Table 1: The Application Bandwidth Table from the HomePlug AV Marketing Requirements Document, v1.1, April 18, 2003. How HomePlug Technologies Enhance the Consumer Experience © 2007 HomePlug Powerline Alliance A Brief History of HomePlug Technology Development As with HomePlug 1.0 development, HomePlug AV technology went through an open and scientific process in order to develop the best known power- line communication technology.<br><br> A team of technology and marketing experts from the communications and consumer electronics in- dustries judged the various powerline technologies through lab tests, field tests, and unbiased scoring for powerline technologies. The process has always followed these strict steps as established by the alliance in the year 2000: 1. Determine market requirements 2.<br><br> Make a call to the industry to submit new powerline technologies for study 3. Conduct an unbiased analysis of each sub- mitted technology 4. Choose a baseline technology 5.<br><br> Develop the technology with open partici- pation from HomePlug member companies 6. License the technology and intellectual property through Reasonable and Non- Discriminatory terms (RAND) 7. Promote the technology worldwide for use in all its applications.<br><br> 8. Offer services to perform product certifica- tion and a certification mark This process worked very well for the development of HomePlug 1.0 technology, and with HomePlug AV, the process was kept intact. Developing HomePlug AV Technology Beginning in early 2003, the market requirements were decided by industry leaders from many levels of the value chain and many soon-to-be comple- mentary industries: consumer electronics, network- ing, service providers, retailers, silicon vendors, equipment manufacturers, and others.<br><br> After the market requirements were complete, and shown to all technology vendors known to the alli- ance, the members of HomePlug began testing and studying proponent technologies from all over the world. HomePlug BoD and committee members thoroughly examined the best technologies avail- able and determined that while all of them had similar performance, none of them met the previ- ously stated market requirements that the alliance had established. Due to the fact that the alliance had access to the world 9s best technical minds that the powerline industry had to offer, we felt we would best serve the industry if we embarked on a mission to im- prove the technology, so that it truly met the re- quirements that the market demanded.<br><br> The majority of the proponent companies began working together to create a new specification that combined the best of what was originally proposed with new features that enhanced the technology and brought it to a higher performance level. But all this work would make little sense if con- sumers were unable to recognize the products that embedded our robust and speedy HomePlug tech- nology. To this end, the alliance created a certification process and a certification mark.<br><br> When a product carries the HomePlug-certified mark, consumers know that each product will work with other HomePlug products, and that they can expect the same level of performance from all the products sporting the mark. How HomePlug Technologies Enhance the Consumer Experience © 2007 HomePlug Powerline Alliance Testing the Technology Since the processes put in place by the alliance be- came the rules by which the technology was devel- oped, it became very important to prioritize and score the performance aspects of the system in a logical manner. Now that HomePlug AV units are coming to market, proving the technology 9s domi- nance is important to potential customers 3 especially in the face of competing proprietary technologies.<br><br> Before the HomePlug AV technology was released, several reports were published by interest groups that support certain proprietary technologies which compared older versions of HomePlug technolo- gies with new 200Mbps-class proprietary technolo- gies. It was important to the HomePlug alliance 3 and to the industry 3to seek the help of an autono- mous testing facility to perform our evaluations. The alliance found a solution in an Independent Test Laboratory (ITL) and commissioned it to con- duct rigorous and unbiased testing.<br><br> The test lab chosen was Laboratoire des Applica- tions Numériques (LAN). The facility is located in France and is used for testing all kinds of digital home technologies. LAN offers a real-life 170 m² home connected to an 800m² laboratory that inclu- des infrastructures for testing xDSL, TV, PLC, and RF technologies.<br><br> Figure 1. The LAN Testing Facility at Cesson Sévigné, France Figure 2. The Test Network How HomePlug Technologies Enhance the Consumer Experience © 2007 HomePlug Powerline Alliance THE RESULTS: HomePlug AV is the fastest and most robust powerline communication technology available!<br><br> The following chart ( Figure 3 ) shows how HomePlug AV powerline technology retains the excellent performance needed to support high-bandwidth applications even in the face of severe conditions on the power line. HomePlug AV outperforms the other powerline technologies especially when encountering a high Signal-to-noise Ratio (SNR). Figure 3.<br><br> The powerline network is a power cable 15m long. The noise is injected on the receiver side. Note: The 100BASE-T Ethernet ports of the computers used in the test limited the maximum UDP throughput to approximately 95Mbps .<br><br> In addition to tests at LAN, Intel con- ducted field tests of HomePlug tech- nology, and released the results at the 2007 Intel Developer Forum in Bei- jing ( Figure 4 ). These tests, con- ducted in real homes around the world, showed the capabilities of HomePlug technologies to deliver robust communications around the world 3 even for challenging digital applications like HDTV. Figure 4.<br><br> Intel 9s results from their international field tests. How HomePlug Technologies Enhance the Consumer Experience © 2007 HomePlug Powerline Alliance Closely following the test results that confirmed the outstanding performance of HomePlug AV technology, the alliance demonstrated the interop- erability of 14 products that were designed for HomePlug AV. These included products from well-known technology companies such as " Actiontec " Asoka USA " Aztech " D-LINK " Devolo AG " Gigafast " NETGEAR " LINKSYS " Intellon Corporation " Solwise " ZyXEL Figure 5.<br><br> The HomePlug Certification Mark All of this translates into one reassuring item: Consumers will benefit from the use of HomePlug technology. HomePlug technologies are breaking new ground for connected home applications, and remain the only industry standard for powerline communica- tion that insures strict interoperability and multi- vendor support. Only HomePlug technologies offer the highest lev- els of performance in the industry.<br><br> Paper authored for the HomePlug Powerline Alliance by Oleg Logvinov and Jim Reeber of Arkados Inc. The testing comparing HomePlug AV technology vs. HD-PLC and UPA technology was conducted at LAN.<br><br> All testing was carefully segr egated to insure that all reporting was independent. The tests were based upon the technological offerings available at the time of testing; HD-PLC and U PA may have modified their prod- ucts and/or introduced other technological features and functions which could cause comparison results to be different if the t esting were conducted at present. Additionally, the methodologies used in the testing do not reflect all possible operating conditions and any conclusions should be limited to those presented in the report.<br><br> All trademarks and/or service marks in the report are used for reference purposes only, are the property of their respe ctive owners, and no rights are claimed therein.