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ITU Okays New HomePNA Networking Standard

SOURCE: TelecomWeb (Potomac, MD)

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has standardized the Home Phoneline Networking Alliance's HomePNA 3.1, the only in-home networking standard that doesn't require new wiring adopted by any global standards body.

The action has no doubt caused consternation in both the Multimedia over Coax Alliance's (MoCA) world and the two major broadband over powerline (BPL) communities, all of whom dearly wish they, too, had the imprimatur of an independent standards group like the ITU. The newest spec from the HomePNA crowd, once known as the Home Phoneline Networking Alliance (which perhaps gives a tiny hint that telcos, primarily AT&T, are its biggest champions), boosts the speed supported by HomePNA to 320 Mb/s over two channels, up from 128 Mb/s over a single channel. It's taken the group less than a year since it announced HomePNA 3.1 (TelecomWeb news break , March 28, 2006) to get it approved by the ITU, which may be something of a standards record. HomePNA, as the name implies, uses the telephone wires already in a wall for networking - eliminating the need for Cat 5 cable - and also works over coaxial cable, most likely installed by a cable company. That, of course, riles the cable industry, which has thrown its weight behind MoCA that delivers up to 270 Mb/s. Around a year ago, MoCA members Motorola and Tellabs made a joint MoCA submission to the ITU, which has yet to give its blessing to the technology.

The third "no new wires" technology is, of course, BPL , where Intellon and DS2 are locked in a death battle over whose technology will get standardized by some international body or another. BPL technology works over coax as well as electric wires. Both companies, with their own pet trade groups, are battling in front of ETSI and the IEEE for standardization (for a full update on that segment of the industry, see next week's edition of Broadband Business Forecast ). Despite the acrimony between the various technologies and industries in getting home networking standards approved, the folks at HomePNA just couldn't resist the obligatory canned quote of self-congratulation: "This announcement is an excellent example of the spirit of cooperation that now pervades in the standards world," says Malcolm Johnson, director of the ITU's Telecommunication Standardization Bureau. "International standards in home networking will facilitate access to global markets and allow for economies of scale in production and distribution. We applaud HomePNA's initiative and look forward to working together in the future."

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