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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  • jabber - Monday, January 20, 2014 - link

    Yeah I run 5GHz in a small one bedroom apartment and its fine for that...just. I've even swapped one of the three 5dB antennas for a 9dB and through one brick wall you get a 50% drop.

    In a large brick built house...no way.

    Sometimes you just have to use a piece of wire, even if it powers the kettle too!
  • otherwise - Friday, January 17, 2014 - link

    Give it time. I live in a condo hi-rise that has a population larger than some cities, and there are already a ton of people on the 5GHz band. Even 24 non-overlapping channels in 10 years might be too few.
  • lurker22 - Friday, January 17, 2014 - link

    Have to disagree. I LOVE wired connections as the latency with wireless is really irritating. Maybe AC is better, but my 5ghz N still has it.
  • DanNeely - Friday, January 17, 2014 - link

    Unfortunately ac's wider channels are heavily undermining 5ghz's promise. Most of the world has 3 non-overlapping 2.4ghz channels. 5ghz licensing is really messy at the global level (read in wikipedia if you're interested). In the US for 9/n wifi we currently have enough spectrum for 12 40mhz or 25 20mhz channels which did allow for lots of people to run 5ghz wifi in apartment buildings without stomping all over each others traffic and lead geeks to sing its praises a few yeras ago; we only have 6 80mhz channels available. When next generation AC devices show up with support for 160 mhz channels we'll only have 2 available; a 5mhz slice between the last 2 80 mhz channels is reserved for a different use.

    The FCC is considering reallocating two additional blocks 5ghz spectrum for wifi; if both are approved the numbers would jump to 9/4 channels at 80/160mhz wide. They're facing a lot of pushback on one of the two blocks from the auto industry; that spectrum is currently allocated for use by future car to car communication systems (wifi is too slow to connect at highway speeds); if that one is denied while the other one is approved we'd expand to 8/3 channels.

    Current/proposed new US channels:
  • smartconnectivity - Monday, May 9, 2016 - link

    ..., and did you see how fast they hacked the RING DOORBELL? Easy as logging on in a Starbucks network using your laptop. An AC power source to a DC circuit also requires a ballast based AC-DC converter to get the DC 12V to power these gadgets, so they are not ALL 100% wireless installations. A HD-PLC circuit can carry 100Mbps+ across the house as well as provide power on the same line (AC PowerLine, Cable, or twisted pairs inside an RJ-45 all work). Some cases this is THE preferred methodology. MegaChips HD-PLC and Video-Over-Coax solutions can do this, and achieve above speeds with 1Km-->2Km reach, and also provide the line power provisioning (injector and POL) in a small low cost solution. Supports Layer 7, IGMP, Multicast, Multi-Hop, and star network configurations. Easy to apply, east to optimize for particular needs. Many people are using in both industrial and residential applications today.
  • edwpang - Friday, January 17, 2014 - link

    I have never had powerline ethernet working reliably in my house. I have tried twice with about 1 year in between. The first time I got below 5Mbps, and the second time was better but didn't go above 20Mbps unless I put the adapters in the same power bar(200Mbps at most). The connection dropped pretty often.
    On the other hand, wifi is much better: I have set up a pair of D-Link router(DIR-850)/bridge(DAP-1565). I get about 100-200Mbps using iperf3. It's not as stable as wired ethernet connection, but much faster than powerline.
  • robbertbobbertson - Friday, January 17, 2014 - link

    If by "power bar" you mean a power strip then you were doing it wrong. They are supposed to be plugged directly to the wall with nothing in between. It says so in the instructions.
  • TheThirdRace - Friday, January 17, 2014 - link

    You need to plug it directly in the wall... If it still doesn't work, you might need to change the breaker by choosing a different brand more friendly to powerline ethernet.

    Some brand of electric box just doesn't work if I remember well, so the solution isn't 100% certain to work anyway.

    In any case, even if the speed isn't as great as wireless AC, the sheer reliability of powerline ethernet is at least a thousand time better. I'd go wireless for browsing the Net, but online gaming, streaming, telnet, vpn, etc., are all better with powerline. I prefer to sacrifice some speed and have a 100% uptime on my internet link instead of having a small bump in speed and see my things slow or disconnect twice an hour... It all depends on what you wanna do.
  • eanazag - Friday, January 17, 2014 - link

    I have an old 3 story house with a seperate garage and seperate finished shed. These devices make sense for me in connecting those seperate buildings that are out of WiFi range yet connected by electric circuit. I haven't spluged just because I haven't need the connection enough to through the cash behind it, but if I had money in excess I would just do it. If I had home automation, I would consider it for the basement because WiFi just doesn't get down there enough. I have a 3x3 Asus N router - RT66U or something like that.
  • bleomycin - Friday, January 17, 2014 - link

    I'm very interested in these gigabit level speeds? Who is actually getting these? I've never seen more than ~40 Mbit and i've tried many powerline kits!

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